Wedding season is almost in full swing across the country, bringing even more reason for enthusiasm as the warm weather comes along with it. One classic song sure to play at most weddings this year, as in years past, is “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston. The anthemic chorus includes the famous lines “I wanna dance with somebody, I wanna feel the heat with somebody.”
It seems ‘somebody’ took those lines to another level of commerce within the fitness industry, according to a recent article from Fast Company. That somebody is actually two people, namely Mark Mullett and Ashley Mills, who founded the popular fitness app Obé.
Story author Rina Raphael spoke with both founders to get the inspiration behind the innovative model, writing:
In May 2018, Mullett and fellow Creative Artists Agency (CAA) alum Ashley Mills launched the Brooklyn-based Obé, an acronym for “our body electric.” The live-streaming and on-demand fitness platform offers a more design-centric experience with a focus on lighting, setting, even fashion. For a $27 monthly subscription, users access 14 daily classes, each boasting a color wheel of pastel and neon colors against a minimalist background. It feels like a mix between a Jane Fonda workout and the movie Tron, with a dash of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” video.
“Our customer wants something different,” explains Mullett of his (mostly) millennial audience. “She wants something that feels branded, that feels special–that evokes joy.”
Like many Angelenos, Mullett and Mills were obsessed with boutique fitness studios. The two CAA colleagues routinely found themselves dissecting everything about the L.A. exercise scene: Whose class did you take? What was the atmosphere? What music did they play? How was the instructor? …
For inspiration, the duo reached back to a cultural moment where people were most excited to feel the burn: The Jane Fonda fitness video era (and to a lesser extent, Richard Simmons). The fitness heyday of the ’80s pushed spandex-clad women across the country to energetically lunge in their living rooms. At the height of her empire, Fonda sold hundreds of thousands of cassettes a year, occupying Billboard’s top 10 videocassette sales chart for 145 weeks. She sold 17 million copies total.
“Our moms worked out in the ’80s and they were always having a really, really great time,” says Mills.
Working out is not the primary source of fun for just about anyone, but it certainly can be enjoyable and even “evoke joy,” as Mullet suggests Obé offers its users. It will take more than just a catchy theme to keep people coming back, but the exciting throwback branding might be enough to bring them in and help them feel the heat.
To read Raphael’s full writeup, click here.