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If I was launching an athletic brand, how would I do it differently?

While biking down New York’s West Side highway I pedaled past a young blonde woman,  mid jog in the opposite direction. Clamped to her head was a pair of white, shiny, over-ear headphones and, on her face was one of the biggest smiles I’d ever seen.

For context, I’d been considering running that day. But ugh, the 90-degree-heat, the impending sweat, the effort that would go into even a short run, all these things that make Nike’s ‘just do it’ tagline carry so much weight… they all made me not want to run. 

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But this girl epitomized every good feeling that happens during a run.  When you hit your stride and feel a burst of energy. When you feel powerful. When your music can barely keep up with the endorphins pumping through your body. It’s less just do it, and more enjoy doing it (copywriter needed).

The beginning of a run is the hard part. Getting out of my bed…lacing up.. building speed.. it’s too easy to look at the barriers and decide eh, I’ll run tomorrow. But thinking about her and the look she had on her face I thought, man I’d kill to be running right now.

Toughness is sexy. Nike’s brand is strong because of that. The dominant players in the athletic shoe market (Nike, Adidas, even Reebok and Under Armour) all love to celebrate the badass-ery of working out and giving your all to something really difficult.

But enjoyment and fun is also cool. As my friends and I have gotten more into working out, we’ve had conversations about the workout classes we really enjoy. The difficulty of the workout is not mentioned as a bragging point. In fact, it’s usually a plus: ‘Kore kicked my ass.. I felt great afterwards. You guys should try it.’

I wonder if there is space for a brand to own the feeling of awesome that comes during and post-workout.When your instructor tells you to smile through it. When you smile through it on your own. When you walk out ready to take on (and eat) the world. Those feelings make me crave a work out. Don’t just own the difficulty; make me want to work out because you feel great. I think some spin classes (e.g. Flywheel, Swerve) are starting to get into the ‘fun’ element of a workout.

What about a shoe brand? Or a line of workout gear?

What I liked about that blonde girl is she didn’t fit the Nike look. In fact, those headphones looked kind of dorky compared to a Nike photoshoot. But I was ready to buy in. And, if I am going to try to compete with the Nike’s of the world, I’d try to come up with a new angle.