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Gomad Goes Online to Stay Sane and in Business

When Ng Chic Wern, Wan Muhammad Hafiz, Wong Kok Siew and Ngow Fei Fei got together to set up Gomad Bootcamp last September, little did they know that just as it was starting to really take off, they would be forced to cease all outdoor activity, owing to the MCO.

The four partners had all been part of another bootcamp. They decided to start Gomad because they wanted to run a bootcamp along different lines, putting the customer (or ‘recruit’, as they are called in these army-style bootcamps) first and looking not just at their exercise regime, but at their health as a whole.

Ngow says the four partners were looking to introduce community-centred bootcamps in different areas, taking into account healthy diets according to individual needs, recovery and muscle improvement, among others.

‘We listen to people, find out what they want to eat and what healthy food suits them. It’s about everything healthy, a more holistic approach to fitness,’ she adds.

Gomad did not invest in a gym. Instead, the instructors would just rent a community hall where they could use the field and basketball area for workout sessions. They also bought equipment such as sand bags, sand balls and rifles for the sessions.

To book a session, recruits would have to go to Gomad’s website and pay by credit card.

It set up bootcamps in four locations – Bandar Utama, Damansara Heights, Ampang and Subang – and was looking at a fifth location when the MCO hit. Also, it was in the midst of an eight-week challenge and had to refund some of the money it had collected earlier. In fact, sales dropped 30% and there was also a matter of venue bookings that had already been paid for but which had to be cancelled. ‘We don’t know whether we will get a reimbursement.’

When news of the MCO first came out, the partners immediately came up with a game plan. If they could not hold a regular bootcamp, they would shift their classes online.

‘Before the MCO, we had sessions onsite on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at the different fields. Going forward, we could still have those but do our virtual sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday,’ says Ngow.

‘At first, we used Facebook Messenger because we didn’t know how many people would join us, but it wasn’t smooth. More people wanted to join it, but Facebook Messenger limits the number of people who can participate. So, we shifted to Zoom and paid for sessions so they could last more than [the first free] 40 minutes,’ says Ngow.

Some of the partners had already been using Zoom for other purposes, so they were familiar with the application. They introduced three sessions a week – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Each instructor monitors his or her own group of recruits from different laptops. While this may not sound ideal, Ngow says they bring the bootcamp spirit to these online sessions. ‘The main benefit of working out on Zoom under your instructor’s eye is that if you are tempted to stall, he or she can call out, “Hey! Come on! You can do it! Don’t stop!”’

Although the MCO has been a major disruption to Gomad’s mode of operations, Ngow believes its clients understand and are supportive. ‘They also understand that staying active while being locked down in the house is very important. They are very pleased and very happy with it.’

Gomad had planned to offer virtual training in the future to those who could not come to its training venues, including mothers who could not leave their children at home.

The MCO just accelerated its plans. ‘Before the MCO, we had sessions onsite on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at the different fields. Going forward, we could still have those but do our virtual sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

‘People like what we have to offer because we pay attention to what the recruits have to say and give them extra to make the whole thing more holistic. We call ourselves a military-inspired bootcamp fitness [operation] with a lifestyle-driven support system,’ Ngow says.

Gomad goes online to stay sane and in business

On site training.

This article was originally published in The Edge on 10 April 2020.