By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Spend some time with Stacy Baugues, and you’ll quickly learn that she is passionate about health, wellness and fitness. In fact, the Memphis native and competitive gymnast in high school won $3,000 in 2012 in the “Boyd Venture Challenge” at the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville for a fitness start-up idea.
“It was enough to live for three months,” the engaging Baugues told us with a smile on her face. While she began to develop the basic program during that time, she also realized that she needed a part-time job once the prize money was used-up. That led to work as a health educator in the Loudon County School System that transitioned into a full-time role after a year.
“This is where it (her start-up) took a pause,” Baugues said. From Loudon County, she moved on to spend a little more than three years with the Governor’s Foundation on Health and Wellness, a role that has come to an end.
So, seven years after hearing about the UT competition and developing her initial business plan in a week, Baugues has decided to go “all-in” on the start-up that is focused primarily on K to eighth grade students and their school teachers.
“There’s not a strong national brand in youth fitness,” Baugues says. “I want PowerUp Fitness to be a brand people recognize across the country.”
It’s a need she knows very well. Baugues earned two degrees in the field while also working part-time at two area fitness facilities – Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center and the UT Recreation Center. Her undergraduate degree, which she earned Cum Laude, was in exercise physiology, while her master’s, earned Sum Cum Laude, was in kinesiology.
“Fort Sanders wanted a kids’ program, and I jumped on the opportunity,” Baugues, who was then an undergraduate student, told us. “That’s the seed for PowerUp Fitness.”
Once she started working on her master’s degree and became a Graduate Assistant, Baugues had to give-up working at Fort Sanders, but she trained two other instructors to teach the curriculum she had developed. For her thesis, Baugues focused on the accuracy of something called the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) test.
“I showed that the results of using the PACER to predict girls’ fitness levels wasn’t very accurate, but it was OK for boys,” she said.
From the time she founded the company in 2012, Baugues has maintained the PowerUp Fitness website, even though her actual involvement was limited. She gave birth to a daughter about 18 months ago and decided in June of this year that she would focus her efforts full-time of the start-up.
“It’s the only time I’ve got to give this a go,” Baugues says. To help restart her plan, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer has landed a few customers since she started actively selling the services in mid-July and is the midst of a $25,000 crowdfunding effort at iFundWomen.
“We want to make kids fitness fun,” she says.
PowerUp Fitness has two products on the market with a third planned. Those currently available are PowerUp Your School and PowerUp Fitness Classes, the latter for centers. The forthcoming product is PowerUp Peanuts, focused on two- to five-year olds at daycares.
There’s a one-time fee of anywhere from $349 to $1,000 for fitness centers and schools, depending on the number of instructors to be certified through the online training program and the number of lesson materials needed. After that, Baugues says she will be updating the lessons annually, and the cost to renewal a certification is $99 per instructor.
“I have received inquiries from other states.” She notes. “The market is there; the interest is there. Can I be scalable?”