A Springfield fitness company is beginning work this month with the U.S. Air Force after being awarded a $1.25 million federal contract.
Barbell Logic Inc. owner and CEO Matt Reynolds said his online-based business will work with hundreds of airmen, specifically Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal units, in the company program. The contract was earned through the Small Business Innovation Research program, for which the U.S. Small Business Administration serves as the coordinating agency.
“This was definitely a big win for us,” Reynolds said, noting the bidding process is “highly competitive.”
He estimated thousands of companies submitted proposals seeking funding for projects through the program, which he first heard about from one of his employees, who was active duty in the military in 2021.
Reynolds said the program will use Barbell Logic’s software platform and private online strength and health coaching to help improve physical fitness assessment scores of airmen and reduce nonbattle injuries.
“The Air Force hired us to try and improve strength, conditioning and performance, but primarily to do those things in order to cut down on injuries and have a higher percentage of combat-ready airmen,” he said. “So many of our soldiers are stuck at home, can’t be deployed because they are injured for one reason or another.”
The project is expected to last 18 months, although Reynolds said the bulk of the work will be done this year. He said the last few months will primarily be data gathering and compiling a final report to present.
He said part of the contract bidding process involved submitting a memorandum of understanding with a partnering Air Force flight and an extensive 18-page proposal that communicated Barbell Logic’s value proposition to the government.
Reynolds was among several Barbell Logic employees that traveled earlier this month to Hill Air Force Base, near Ogden, Utah, to meet with Air Force officers and airmen to make a presentation of the training program. He said the company initially will work with roughly 50 officers and physical training leaders.
“We’ll then onboard the officers and PTLs for the first few months to give them a taste of what our online coaching looks like,” he said. “We’ll also educate the PTLs through our Barbell Academy, where we teach strength coaches how to become experts in the field.”
The EOD flights, the Air Force term for units, will number around 500 people and be onboarded by late summer, Reynolds said. The main role for EOD flights is to detect, disarm and dispose of bombs and other explosive devices.
“They will utilize our software platform, but the PTLs will be their primary coach,” he said, adding Barbell Logic will train Air Force staff how to provide programming and training to the airmen for use on base and while stationed overseas. “Our staff will help oversee that just to make sure we can answer questions or provide any customer service or help with roadblocks they may run into.”
Most airmen are typically responsible for their own training, either by themselves or in group settings, Reynolds said, adding it often is inefficient to meet goals.
While meeting Air Force personnel to kick off the project could have been done virtually, Reynolds felt it was important to have in-person meetings.
“With this being a large contract and an initial contract with the Air Force, it’s more about getting leadership buy-in,” he said, adding Capt. William Kent of the 775th EOD at Hill Air Force Base has been his primary contact.
Kent didn’t return messages seeking comment by press time.
Barbell Logic, which has 20 full-time employees and 60 contract workers, was founded in 2016 as Starting Strength Online Coaching. The home-based venture provides online strength and health coaching, as well as a podcast, YouTube channel and Barbell Academy training program. The Barbell Logic podcast, which covers topics such as home gym needs, training during vacations and nutrition-based content, generates around 200,000 downloads per month, Reynolds said.
He said revenue in 2022 was roughly $2.9 million, just shy of his $3 million projection.
While last year’s revenue was a record for the young company, Reynolds expects it will be a short-lived one. He estimates the Air Force project will push Barbell Logic to $4 million in revenue this year.
Reynolds said the company’s client total will be roughly 1,850 once the Air Force program is in full swing. Turnkey Coach, the fitness venture’s software, will track the airmen’s health data.
Barbell Logic has previously worked with members of the armed services in the private sector, including from the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada, Reynolds said, adding that gives him confidence in the Air Force project.
“So, we know this leads to lower injury rates and higher performance rates,” he said. “We know we’ll see their strength go up and conditioning go up and improvements on their (physical fitness test) scores. Ultimately, we want deployable airmen.”
Reynolds expects the EOD airmen will be good clients but is hopeful the project will lead to future opportunities and wider access to Air Force active-duty members. The military branch had over 328,000 people in active duty as of September 2022, according to the most recent data on its website. That includes an unspecified number of representatives of the Space Force, a separate armed services branch organized in 2019 under the Department of the Air Force.
“The first part of this is getting your foot in the door and becoming an actual contracted company with the government,” he said. “That’s the first major step to future contracts. We don’t want to miss the forest for the trees. It’s really important for us to knock this contract out of the park. We want to do very well. If we don’t do well on this, we’re not going to get future contracts.”
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