Access Thousands of Gyms

With One App

Interview posted: April 27, 2020

FlexIt, led by CBS ’16 alumnus Austin Cohen, created a mobile app that quickly and seamlessly enables users to access gyms where and when they want, and only pay for the amount of time that they are in the facility. Now in partnership with more than 2000 gyms in 23 states, and growing.

CBSACNY:   Why did you see the need to create a flexible, pay-per-use gym access model?

Cohen: Millennials and Gen-Z’s are conditioned to access everything they want, at the tips of their fingers, on-demand, using their phones, across all consumer verticals. We wanted to cater to those preferences while simultaneously helping gym owners and operators best market and to attract this demographic; we see this marriage as a true win-win for both the gyms and the users. Users are able to access gyms in a way that suits their tastes and consumption preferences, while gyms see new traffic through their doors--driving increased revenue, leads and memberships.

CBSACNY:  How is FlexIt different from your competitors?

Cohen: We recognized that our gym partners are understandably averse to services that aim to offer secondary memberships to their facilities. We seek to partner with the gyms, not to commoditize the industry. That’s why we don’t offer memberships. While we do seek to create a marketplace for gym access, we fundamentally see ourselves as an extension of our gym partners’ marketing departments. We both benefit by driving users through their doors--for us that relationship is front and center.

Turetsky: On the user side, we aim to make the gym process as seamless as possible. Once a user creates an account with FlexIt, he/she can walk into any of our partner facilities and work out. There is no tour or paperwork to fill out prior to the workout; we are the only service that offers that kind of seamless access. Furthermore, we strive to match consumption trends around spend control. Users are only charged for the amount of time they’re actually in the gym: If a user stays for 30 minutes, the user pays for 30 minutes, and if the user is in the gym for an hour, the user pays for an hour.

CBSACNY:   How do your club partners benefit from partnering with you?

Turetsky: Think of FlexIt as a megaphone for our partner gyms. We are a marketing tool for the gyms on our platform, giving them more exposure and helping them to reach new users. Our cost-free marketing efforts serve to drive users through their doors, increasing membership conversions as well as generating incremental revenue.

CBSACNY:   What are you doing to respond to COVID-19?

Cohen: Our focus during this pandemic has been around using our expertise in technology and our reach to provide fitness access to consumers and to help our gym partners as much as we can. We initially considered creating and distributing live or streamed fitness classes, but we quickly recognized that the space was quite saturated with content.

Instead, we decided to expand a feature we had recently premiered: personal training. We had initially created this feature to help our gym partners fill unused trainer time in their facilities, but with the turbulence surrounding COVID-19, we realized that there was a market need for virtual, at-home personal training. Users were clamouring for the kind of attention normally provided by the $9 billion personal training industry, but were unable to get it. So we’ve quickly built out a platform to help our gym partners, many of whom have kept some trainers on payroll, reach users and monetize these trainers’ time.

Turetsky: And this requires no lift or effort from our partnered facilities. Plus, the response from our user-base has been overwhelmingly positive. We believe at-home fitness will become an increasingly valuable channel post-COVID.

CBSACNY:  Where do you see the fitness industry going?

Cohen: In the immediate term we think there will be a rebound of users visiting gyms and studios. People have been stuck inside for so long that they will be more motivated and excited than ever before to get out there and exercise--whether alone or with friends. In the longer term there will definitely be a movement towards at home fitness. So many people have invested in equipment (including everything from Mirror to Peloton to dumbbells) that there will be a contingent of people who will not return to gyms or studios in a meaningful way. These are the people we believe will continue to use services like our virtual personal training.

However, there will also be many people for whom gyms and studios provide something that they simply can’t get at home: community. Humans are social creatures and, as we’ve found out, for many of us video conferencing is simply not a replacement for in person interactions. Plus, there will always be exercises that cannot be performed at home--especially in dense urban areas such as New York City. At the end of the day, strength training cannot be done at home the way it can at a gym.

Finally, we think that our business model is now more relevant than ever. As we stare into the face of a recession users will be more focused on spend control than ever, and that benefits a flexible-based product such as ours. That increase in attention, and user base, will enable us to better help our gym partners. We believe that here our offering is more valuable than ever as well. Gyms will need to be ever more effective marketers to drive users through their doors and that is something we excel at.

CBSACNY:  Are you guys funded?

Cohen: We closed our seed round in the middle of 2019 from private equity backers. FlexIt is currently fundraising, and is planning for our Series A.

CBSACNY:   What are some gyms and locations where consumers can use FlexIt?

Cohen: We are partnered with large national chains such as Blink Fitness, Crunch Fitness, and Gold’s Gym in addition to regional chains across the country and boutique studios like [solidcore].

Turetsky: We are currently in partnership with over 2,000 gyms in 23 states across the United States. We plan on expanding deeper in the markets we are already in and into new markets in the future with hopes to reach all 50 states by Q4 of 2020.

FlexIt founder, Austin Cohen’s contact info and phone numbers are in the database of the alumni club, or feel free to message him at

Abbreviated bios of the founders:

Austin Cohen
President & CEO, FlexIt Inc.
Founding Team & Partner, Chief of Staff - Wheels Up
Columbia University, BA '11
Columbia Business School, MBA '16 

Austin is an entrepreneur with broad-based experience in strategy, business development, finance and capital raising across the consumer health & wellness, sports, entertainment and technology verticals. Austin has spent about half of his career in venture capital, and the other half operational with early-stage companies. Austin is on the Founding Team, is a partner and was the Chief of Staff at industry-leading private aviation company Wheels Up, which is now valued at over $1B.

Justin Turetsky
Founding Team, Chief Operating Officer - FlexIt Inc.
Columbia University, BA '11