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Heat bootcamp: "78704 checked virtually every box for me"

Updated: Feb 29

Heat Bootcamp is a south Austin gem locally-owned business that is nested inside TPG's 78704 Neighborhood Center in the iconic South First street. The gym has been steadily gaining popularity in recent years, becoming an area favorite attracting a wide range of people from all walks of life who live or frequent this eclectic and beloved area of our city.

We had the chance to sit down with Haider Laghari, one of the main forces behind Heat's success.

Owning a small business is always a big challenge, especially a fitness-driven business in a city that highly values exercising and outdoor activities. Talking to Haider, we understood that having a successful gym in a competitive city like Austin takes a great deal of strategic thought, passion, perseverance and a fantastic team. Learn more about it by reading Haider's enlightening reflections on this interview:

How did you end up here, owning a successful business in Austin's 78704 neighborhood?

I started my career as an auditor in Houston, then worked in Operations for a company in downtown Austin which is how I ended up here. As a I looked to transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship, it was important to me that I find or start a business in an area in which I would want to live/work/or be in long term. The 78704 checked virtually every box for me so it was an easy decision to end up here.

HEAT has grown and evolved over the years, building a super strong community of loyal patrons that love your brand, talk to us about how that process has been for you and the different milestones you have all accomplished.  

From the day HEAT launched in 2006, our founder Cody made it his mission to build a studio that was community first. As the baton was passed last year to myself and my partner Danny, we do everything in our power to continue that focus. Even though at the end of the day we are a business, we constantly make decisions that would be considered “bad” for the business in the spirit of focusing on what’s best for our members and staff. We truly believe that the foundation Cody laid for focusing on our community and staff over all else is the reason we have such strong brand loyalty. We’re so proud to have so many members who have been with us for 10+ years or done 1000+ classes and feel so much joy each time our members hit milestones with us.

We're sure that owning HEAT has been a journey filled with challenges and very rewarding moments.  
If you were to go back in time and talk to a Haider that was getting ready to acquire Heat, what suggestions would you now be able to give to him?  

The biggest thing I’ve learned during my time at HEAT is that entrepreneurship is a game of constantly overcoming new challenges. Those that succeed aren’t the ones who never fail those challenges, but those who work with the people around them to persist past every failure until eventually they succeed.

If I could tell myself one thing - it would be to not dwell on small failures. Instead I should focus more on persistence and iterating constantly until eventually there’s a success. Luckily, my partner and staff are so talented the successes come much easier now so long as I’m listening to their advice.

What's HEAT's philosophy when it comes to exercise. It seems you mix different styles, and offer different options to your members, is that correct? 

HEAT has two main parts of our business - Personal Training & HIIT Classes.

On our PT side - our biggest focus is on the “Personal” part of “Personal Training.” We’re passionate about connecting with our clients and adapting our training style to exactly what their specific goals are. Every PT client has unique goals, so we work hard to avoid taking a one size fits all approach to training and really dig deep into what we can do for each individual to ensure they hit their personal goals.

For our HIIT Classes - we strongly believe HEAT the best coaches in Austin, so it makes sense for us to let our coaches do what they do best, and that’s coach. That means we give them a huge amount of freedom to design each of their classes in their own style (but still under the HEAT foundation). Our members love that they’re getting new, intense workouts every day from coaches who have thought deeply about each workout, which in turn keeps our members engaged. Being engaged means they stay consistent and hit their goals, which is a huge win for everybody.

Reaching new customers and retaining old ones is typically a tough challenge for most - if not all - small business owners.  What's your secret?  

Our secret is simple. We have a deep, intense focus on ensuring our current members both feel valued and are receiving value every time they come through our doors. When are members are valued, they become our biggest advocate for referring new members and helping sustain the business. Our strategy has allowed us to get to a place where we’re almost out of space for new members and only rarely need to advertise. We’re extremely lucky to be where we are and we don’t plan to ever lose our community first mindset.

What does HEAT's future look like? What's next for ya’ll?

What we have here at HEAT is special. Our biggest goal as we inch closer to 2024 is to focus on expansion and spreading the message of what we do here to other parts of the city and beyond. If things work out, we’ll see a second location in the city by the end of next year.

What do you like the most about being in the 78704 district? What do you think that makes this neighborhood unique?

As I’ve gotten to spend more time in the neighborhood one of my favorite things is that no matter if I’m talking to neighborhood business owners, creatives, or anyone else here, there’s this general sense of positivity and vibrance you always feel. It’s as though the people who find themselves in this part of town are always doing something interesting and are so excited about it. They say you are who you hang around and ever since finding myself at HEAT and in this neighborhood, I’ve constantly felt like we can go so far if we keep pushing. A huge part of that is from hearing about how far so many of the people who I interact with here have gone. It’s a great feeling and I think that mindset is why there are so many interesting, unique, and successful businesses and people in the neighborhood.



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