Joe Bach of ‘BACH’: “Don’t burn bridges”

Don’t burn bridges. I think this is common sense as you get older, but when you’re young and emotional, sometimes you want to verbally blast people when things go wrong, but you never know when that can come back to you or when you don’t know the whole story. As a part of our series about […]

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Don’t burn bridges. I think this is common sense as you get older, but when you’re young and emotional, sometimes you want to verbally blast people when things go wrong, but you never know when that can come back to you or when you don’t know the whole story.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Bach.

Joe Bach is the Founder & CEO of BACH, an at-home private training company that pivoted its business when the pandemic hit and now offers daily free virtual group fitness classes with live instructors. Joe holds a BS in Finance and Public Relations from Syracuse University and was previously an investment professional for Fortune 500 companies. His passion is helping people achieve their wellness goals, and providing the best customer service experience.

BACH has over 20 free livestream virtual group fitness classes per week, ranging from HIIT, yoga, Pilates and barre to dance, stretching, strength & conditioning and breathwork, taught by live certified instructors who can give real time adjustments and feedback to participants. BACH also performs private training, yoga and Pilates at people’s homes or virtually in Los Angeles and New York City, as well as group classes at companies and apartment buildings.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I spent the first eight years of my career working in finance and investments. I got bored and burnt out of the corporate world and quit my job. But before that, I’d be sitting in my office at 7 PM in Los Angeles and wanting to take a fitness class, but by the time I checked 5 different websites to find the best class, I had missed them. I set out to make an app that would allow you to see the different group fitness classes going on around you at any given time. I think this is now ClassPass. I know the founder of ClassPass was also working on her idea at this same time — crazy. I never got that app to the goal line, but I did start simultaneously developing a workout app that put you through a 30-day video guided workout plan. This took about 2 years to develop and launch in the app stores and this took me deeper into the world of fitness. I opened up a group fitness operation at a movie studio and became a personal trainer. People at the movie studio started asking me to come to their homes on the weekends when they weren’t working there and voila, we switched our marketing and operations to focus on training at people’s homes. By 2019, BACH had grown to nearly 100 private training clients with 30 staff members in 3 cities.

Then COVID hit, and we lost 80% of our business. It wasn’t safe for personal trainers to be coming into people’s homes.

I really was not inspired to go virtual because most other fitness companies were doing the same thing. But then I would read the news every morning and see all of these frontline workers literally saving the world. Everyone was running away from the virus and they were running straight toward it, putting their lives on the line for others. I wanted to give back to them and anyone else in need. We launched virtual fitness classes that were free to first responders, essential workers and anyone who had lost their jobs. All hospital workers, firefighters, grocery store workers, package delivery and front door personnel were invited to free, expert-led virtual fitness classes to help stay physically and mentally healthy during this stressful time. The response from participants was great.

In June, as the trauma surrounding George Floyd’s death and the racial equality movement occurred in America, I saw that people were hurting, including myself. I was consumed by the trauma. Teaching our virtual group fitness classes during the start of the pandemic and then through the death of George Floyd and the response that followed, was my only respite from anxiety that was in my thoughts and all over the media and social media. I remember putting my phone down to teach, and 10 minutes into the class I was surprised at how good it felt to be focused on moving my body and accomplishing a task and nothing else. I wanted to share that with everyone. So in June, we made our service free for everyone. If you need a break from the world, come take a class. We’d be happy to have you.

The positive response was overwhelming and got me thinking that we could make this a long-term, permanent thing. In August, we launched our permanently free livestream virtual group fitness offering. Classes are taught seven days per week by live BACH experts, so every time you take a class you’re getting something new. No videos or limited access to workouts you’ve done repeatedly, it’s free forever with instructors that can give feedback in real time. And community!

We’re helping more and more people each week and they’re enjoying connecting with others from around the US and world. We’ve had participants from all 50 states, and beyond the U.S., we’ve had attendees from England, Ireland, Japan, China, Poland, Canada and Argentina. There’s been a great response. It feels really good to help people.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Free virtual group fitness that is a well-rounded program. There’s a lot of virtual offerings right now. But none of them are free; permanently free, taught live by instructors that can give real-time feedback in an interactive format. None of them have the breadth and depth of types of classes that we do. We’re just looking to help people. No strings attached.

A lot of people are struggling with all sorts of things right now: stress, income, job security. We want to make wellness accessible to all. We want to change the healthcare industry to move from reactive care to preventative care.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think a lot of entrepreneurs who are starting a new business are concerned about people signing an NDA before talking to them. The truth is, no one has the time or the unique life experiences and skill set to do exactly what you are doing. Get their opinion — don’t worry about it. Unless you’re talking to an explicit, established competitor, they’re not going to steal your idea.

Especially in the beginning stages of building something, you need a lot of testing and feedback, and even people just to talk to, bounce ideas off of and refine.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I’ve actually never had a mentor. I would like one. I think I fill this role, or at least try to, by always reading about something I want to learn about or in reading or listening to podcasts that interview or are about successful people. The Tim Ferriss Show is my favorite podcast. He interviews successful people from different arenas and uncovers random tidbits about their lives that are super interesting and helpful to hear and apply to my own journey.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Well, I think this is all about unintended consequences. The ability to make food non-perishable and quickly processed (fast food) was disruptive in terms of cost and convenience and seemed like a positive thing, but it is now contributing to obesity and disease in a large portion of our population.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Be radically truthful and transparent in your feedback in a relationship. It will either strengthen the relationship or ruin it. If it ruins it, it probably wasn’t worth having in the first place. As hard as it is for me to give constructive feedback, it really does add so much value one way or the other.

Don’t burn bridges. I think this is common sense as you get older, but when you’re young and emotional, sometimes you want to verbally blast people when things go wrong, but you never know when that can come back to you or when you don’t know the whole story.

Be generous with people and they will in turn be generous with you. I haven’t always seen the generosity come back to me, but at least I can sleep well at night and that is valuable.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I love the challenge of solving problems. There are so many interesting problems to solve: climate change, racism, healthcare, education, transportation.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

There are so many in this vein, but “The Power of Now” by Eckart Tolle.

I credit this book and a few others with helping me to turn into an adult and be much more calm and OK. My entrepreneurship journey has been hard. I’ve failed a lot. People have f’ed me over a lot. You could lose your mind being mad all the time with runaway emotions or you could practice being right here in the present moment where without a future or a past, everything is just dandy.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it.” We can’t control what happens to us, but we can almost always control how things affect us. This is a very powerful practice.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to get all racist people into therapy. I believe that the underlying trauma in a person and / or learned belief systems can be fixed.

How can our readers follow you online?

@BachFitness and @BachAroundTheClock on Instagram

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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