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Catching a Natural Buzz with Cardio High’s Mark Goodman

All exercise is good, but not all workouts are created equal.

Mark Goodman has taken a rather scientific approach to creating his awesome Cardio High workout program. He’s taken the most heart-healthy bits from a variety of exercises and worked with trainers and physical therapists to put together a program that promises all of the benefits of high-intensity cardio training – but with a much lower chance of injury. This makes it a program that can work for all ages!

I talked to Mark about the path that led him to create his program – read our interview below to learn the story of Cardio High!

image of mark goodman of Cardio High

Mark Goodman, founder of Cardio High

Tell us about your business in as much detail as you can. What is it that you do and who are your customers?

Cardio High provides clients with a healthy form of high-intensity interval training by removing the impact from movement to protect joints. We created our program so that all people, even those with injuries, can experience the benefits of high-intensity training, which we define as training above 80% of the maximum heart-rate. Clients get an immediate benefit because this type of training gives people an energy boost for the rest of their day – and it causes the body to release natural painkillers, giving people a high. Recent studies show that just one minute of high-intensity training provides the same cardiovascular improvements and VO2 max increase as 30 minutes of slower, steady-state training (such as light jogging.)

Our clients are mostly people who are between the ages of 30 and 60. Some want to use our studio to lose weight and get in shape, while others are master athletes looking to improve their performance even as they age.

What made you choose this path? Is it a family legacy or are you a pioneer? Did you go to school for it or are you learning as you go?

I started Cardio High Fitness four years ago because I could not find a fitness program that would raise my heart-rate like playing a sport (such as squash or Ultimate Frisbee.) I trained with a variety of trainers and attended group fitness classes but did not find what I wanted, so I set out to create a program. I trained with a wide variety of sports coaches, trainers, and continued to attend fitness classes. I would pull one or two movements from each discipline that seemed to raise the heart-rate with a low injury risk. After I assembled a basic 1.0 of the program, I took it to physical therapists and corrective exercise specialists and they helped to improve the program and make it even safer. I continue to work with trainers and therapists developing new movements that challenge the core, build strength, and raise the heart-rate.

image of working out at Cardio High

Raising heart-rates with smiles all around!

They say that to be successful you have to be passionate, so share what drives you every day. Why do you love what you do?

The fitness business is going through a revolution right now with massive growth in boutique fitness. Look at the success of companies like Flywheel, SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, and Core Power Yoga. It’s fun to continue to develop a product that stands out in the competitive landscape of fitness. I find it satisfying to hear how much our clients enjoy training at Cardio High. We have quite a few clients who have jumped from place to place over the years and they tell us we are the first program that works for them. Fitness programs get boring over time, so we are constantly challenging ourselves to improve the product and programming so that our clients remain engaged.

Has it been smooth sailing or have you overcome adversity to get where you are?

The business has developed organically and methodically by keeping overhead low and trying to build proof-of-concept at each phase. We have experienced minor issues, like technical issues with heart-rate monitors or building out our facility. But we remain flexible and employ a very smart, experienced advisory board to help us overcome our trickiest problems.

We all know that crazy happens. What’s the wildest thing that’s happened on the job?

I’ve experienced wild things while working in past jobs in the music business for clients like The Allman Brothers and KISS, but Cardio High provides a nice lack of drama that I treasure.

image of The beautiful Cardio High fitness studio

The beautiful Cardio High fitness studio

What do you do with your time off? Are you familiar with that concept?

I spend as much time as possible hanging out with my children and with good friends. I need exercise every day or I become grumpy. I continue to play squash, tennis, and Ultimate Frisbee – and that chews up a good deal of “free” time.

This is the age of the social network. How important is social media to your business and how do you make it work?

Social media wasn’t always a main priority of ours, but as the times change and the engagement through social channels grows, we see that maybe our need to reach that broader audience through multiple platforms is becoming a part of who we are and what we do. People find inspiration through these social channels, and if we can connect with someone to inform and inspire them through social media, there is no loss here, and that is why we do what we do.

How are you involved in your community?

Cardio High supports local elementary schools near our facility. We recently held a competition between clients who were on teams representing local schools. We gave the PTO of the winning school a meaningful donation. We also support local non-profits that are important to our clients. I personally sit on the board of a local arts organization and non-profit squash club and I donate to after-school programs like Squashbusters and Tenacity.

What does supporting local mean to you?

“Supporting local” means working with other local businesses and helping local non-profits.

What does the future look like for you and your business?

We grow our business organically – taking each step slowly and carefully. Our focus is on the next quarter. We have a five-year plan and discuss the major issues and hurdles with our advisory board once each quarter – but a five-year plan is just fiction if you can’t overcome short-term obstacles.

Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners just starting out?

I have worked in more than a dozen start-up companies – some starting “in a garage” and others backed by millions in venture funding. Two points:

  1. Assemble a board of advisors who come from different backgrounds and who know you well. A former manager can provide good reminders of your strengths and weaknesses. An entrepreneurial advisor may help you devise interesting solutions to problems.
  2. Develop your 1.0 product or service for as little money as possible and try to find a couple of clients who love it. This is the main premise behind the Lean Start-up method that is now being taught in some business schools. We used this method and have made a couple of early guinea pig clients part of our advisory board.

One of our advisors pushed us to use this method – even telling us to postpone writing a business plan until we could prove that a few people loved what we had to offer.