Sunday, September 24, 2023

Bye-bye beer belly

Many of the 258 breweries that have started in North Carolina over the last decade (according to the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild) have also become fitness hubs for folks wanting to burn off that beer gut. A website business started in Charlotte by Penn State grads Melanie Fox and Alicia Thomas in December 2016 caters to the “beer fitness” lifestyle.

[/media-credit] Alicia Thomas (left) and Melanie Fox co-founded Work For Your Beer in 2016. compiles local breweries’ offerings of affordable fitness classes combined with free beer. The site includes activities for all fitness levels and interests, including brewery events such as yoga, boot camps, dancing classes and running groups.

When Thomas, 24, moved to the Queen City, she was excited by all of the fitness class offerings by different breweries. What started as Excel sheets that Thomas compiled listing fitness class information for personal use turned a website platform as more people asked for copies of her lists. Now, Work For Your Beer lists 90 to 100 classes a week at various locations, and has more than 11,500 followers on Instagram. Although the company caters exclusively to Charlotte, Thomas has plans to expand to other parts of the Carolinas by the end of the year, and eventually, other states.

Thomas discussed the business behind Work For Your Beer in a recent interview.


Why do people choose Work For Your Beer classes instead of buying a gym membership?

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We have three different buckets that we put our audience into. The first is the “new-in-town.” People who have just moved to a new place and are looking for a low-key, low-stress environment to meet new friends. This is somewhere you are going to work out and drink beer, and you know that the people around you share those interests. It gives you a starting point to begin a conversation.

The second is our “fit but frugal.” They want to be working out regularly, but maybe they can’t afford a $250 a month yoga studio membership. Our classes are really affordable, which makes it exciting to that group of people.

The third is the “multitasker.” That’s someone who has such busy days — they want to work out, and they want to hang out with their friends, and they want to check out this new brewery — but they don’t have time in their schedule to do all three separately, so they do all at one time.

People want it because it’s affordable, convenient, and something new that they can try out that’s unique. I think that’s really enticing.


What is your typical demographic?

Yoga classes tend to skew female. The running clubs are usually pretty evenly split between male and female. Bootcamps are usually also an even split, sometimes leaning a little more male. Our dance classes are mostly female, but we do get a few males sometimes, which I love. Our website is 60% female, 40% male. … The age range is usually 21 to 45, although we did have a 70-year-old come to a twerk for your beer class. It was awesome!


How much money did you invest to start the company?

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We started on Indiegogo [a crowd-funding website] to gauge if this was something people would want or care about. This was in October of 2016. We offered people different incentives at different price points: tank tops, t-shirts, water bottles. Our goal was $3,500 for everything that goes with having an online platform. We reached and surpassed our goal really quickly [at around $3,900], which we were really excited about. At this point we don’t have any investors. We want this business to be our own and make sure that we are putting the needs of our audience first.


Where does your revenue come from?

We try and make our classes really affordable for the people that come, usually around $5 to $10 per person. The brewery or fitness studio that hosted us gets a percentage, a percentage goes to the instructor, and a percentage goes to us. Or the alternative, some places prefer not to do the headcount model, and they prefer to pay us a fee to market the class and they run the class themselves.

“One of our other revenue streams is our apparel. “We’ve got Work For Your Beer” tanks and T-shirts, and “I Beer CLT” apparel that sells really well at beer festivals. That’s actually a pretty big chunk of our revenue.

We also have partnership options that include marketing content on our social media, Brewsletter [weekly e-newsletter], blog, website advertising.


What do you enjoy most about your work?

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We’ve had several different stories that have really tugged at my heartstrings. This girl that started coming to our bootcamps at Lenny Boy (a south Charlotte brewery), she was completely new in town and didn’t know anybody. She met this really strong group of friends that started going to the class every week and hanging out outside of it. Four months later, she came to us and said, “Hey, I have to move for my job, but I just want to let you guys know that I wouldn’t have made friends in Charlotte if it wasn’t for you.” Those stories make me really happy that we’re doing what we’re doing.

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