In the middle of yoga teacher training two years ago, Karly Pavlinac had an idea that could change the future of fitness. While planning her routines, she longed for a video library with all the different exercises and the ability to sequence them together. After Pavlinac lived in Hawaii on a farm for three months, teaching paddle board yoga and working at an architecture firm, she came back to finish college at NC State and moved full steam ahead with her startup: WAAM, a soon-to-be-released app that brings Pavlinac’s original idea to life.
“We created a toolbox for the top influential fitness trainers to monetize their fan base and to create a community of encouragement around movement,” Pavlinac said. In fact WAAM is an acronym for “We Are A MOVEment.”
She started working on the company in earnest in October, 2017, and participated in the NC State Andrews Launch Accelerator (which we wrote more about today) in the summer of 2018, which connected her with one of WAAM’s developers. Soon—when WAAM goes live on the App Store in 3-4 months—fitness enthusiasts will have the option of following the exercises of their favorite trainers on the go.
Last week, the company closed a seed round with Cary’s Cofounders Capital, which invested $300,000 with the option of putting in $200,000 more. Cofounders Founder and Managing Partner David Gardner said Pavlinac is a very coachable entrepreneur to bring under his wing.
“It’s all about the entrepreneur,” Gardner said. “Karly is just—even though she’s only a year out of school—she’s just all piss and vinegar.”
BnaFit will be a $20 per month subscription service to access all the trainers and workouts, but some workouts will be free. BnaFit has already acquired 45 trainers, ranging from the trainers of NFL players to a professional ballerina to the first CrossFit trainer with cerebral palsy who creates adaptive workouts in a wheelchair.
“We want everyone to be included in this and to not think of fitness as so scary or so ‘you have to look this type of way,’” Pavlinac said. “It’s really just about feeling good and moving your body.”
Gardner believes WAAM may completely transform the exercise community, where many members find it inconvenient to get to the gym for a class at a certain time and have unpredictable work schedules.
“Karly’s building a system where you’re going to be able to buy your own playlist, pick your favorite trainers, pick just the exercises you want, how long you want to rest,” Gardner said. “That’s super exciting. I think it’s going to have the same impact in the exercise community that iTunes had in the music community because it’s a proven paradigm. This is what people want.”
WAAM targets busy bodies on the go and will offer trainers in Raleigh, Charlotte, Washington D.C., Nashville and Atlanta on the app.
“It’s being able to have the top, best trainers at your fingertips,” Pavlinac said. “When you have a busy lifestyle, maybe you’re traveling for work or you have to pick up your kids from school, and you can’t make it to that class or go to the gym. Or you spend a lot of time driving to the gym—you could have already been done with your workout by then.”
For Pavlinac, the ability to connect a specific workout with a specific location—such as a park where the exercises are geared toward the actual stairs, bars, and other physical features—and creating a community will be strong aspects of WAAM. In addition to working out at home on their own schedules, WAAM members might also meet with other community members to work out together, performing exercises designed for that physical location.
“I want it to be more than just fitness,” Pavlinac said. “It’s really, really about the community and bringing people together, and that’s what I want people to know that we’re here for.”