On the 22nd of March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison shut Australia down. Restaurants, pubs and gyms were all forced to close to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
For business-owner, personal trainer and Bachelor alum Sam Wood, the drastic announcement triggered an incredibly stressful 24 hours.
“It was really hard,” he told Yahoo Finance.
“Not just logistically, but you don’t really have any time to prepare yourself psychologically or emotionally. And I don’t just mean me - I have 30 personal trainers who work out of my studio here in Melbourne at the Woodshed.
“That was really hard for a lot of my trainers.”
The Woodshed ended up loaning out the equipment to trainers so they could continue personal training sessions, while clients stepped up and encouraged more friends to take on personal training sessions.
But while the pandemic posed some initial challenges for the Woodshed, it was a huge opportunity for another of Wood’s ventures: 28 by Sam Wood.
In the last six weeks, sign ups for the app jumped 258 per cent on the six weeks prior as online exercise classes and regimes took off.
And, Wood is proud to say, this rapid leap in subscribers occurred without a hitch.
“It’s been the perfect test, and it  has come through it with flying colours. The users on the program have grown by nearly 500 per cent over the last 12 months and the experience for the member hasn’t changed and the tech capability has handled it beautifully.”
Wood puts it down to the original goal: to design the best tech platform with the best workouts and the best content.
“The last three months have really been exciting because it’s proven that the sky’s the limit.”
The app is personalised to users’ needs, whether that’s vegan recipes, better sleep and wellness, a goal of losing a few kilograms or weight training. And it’s intelligent enough that it will constantly evolve to keep up and challenge its users.
It’s also a premium service, Wood says. At $59 a month, it’s closer in price to a gym subscription than other apps. But you get what you pay for, he said.
Key to Wood’s success
Wood credits the app, and his personal success, to finding the right people to work with and understanding his own limits.
“It might sound a bit cliche but building a great team around me in areas that I’m not strong [has been important],” Wood said.
“I’m a great people person and I’m very passionate and very strong in the fitness space, but ensuring that we have experts in each of the key uses of the program, whether that’s a psychologist or a brilliant nutritionist or a great CEO or bringing in a brilliant tech person in house [has been critical].”
He said that two years ago, 28 by Sam Wood employed seven people with the rest of the workers coming from different agencies.
“It just slowed things down. In this tech space you want to be agile and you want to be quick, and when you’ve got everything at your fingertips under one roof you can make really quick, smart decisions and act quickly as well.”
And while the app started out with just Wood and one web developer, it now employs 23 full-time staff.
So what’s next for Wood?
“The reason I started this business was to help as many people as I could,” he said.
“When you’re in a gym doing one on one training, you can only see so many people and I wanted to break through that. Now, nearly five years later, that goal hasn’t changed. It’s just even more exciting now. I really feel like we’re on the precipice of exploding and being able to help hundreds of thousands of people, rather than tens of thousands of people.”