Candace Cordelia is a Pennsylvania-based journalist and on-camera broadcaster/host, with…
Rebecca Balyasny created the online fitness community, bande, during the start of the COVID-19 health pandemic in 2020. Since then, she’s seen the positive effects the online community has had on her clients and beyond. The fitness entrepreneur talks to Athletech News for our CEO/Founder Corner series about bande’s origin story and what keeps her motivated against any and all odds.
Like so many around the globe, bande founder and CEO Rebecca Balyasny found herself at a crossroads at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. During her own period of reflection during this time, she decided to create bande in June 2020, as she tells Athletech News, “with the goal of addressing” her own accountability along with providing the advantages of technology to keep connecting to her workouts. Heading into 2022, Balyasny is committed to providing a way for others and herself to keep connected, healthy, and centered with her esteemed online fitness community in an unpredictable world.
For our CEO/Founder Corner series, Balyasny unveils how bande came into fruition, what she deems to be her greatest accomplishment, her daily habits, and more.
Please tell us about your current company and how either your role or the company (if you are a founder) came to fruition.
I’m the Founder and CEO of bande, a virtual platform that aims to create the best experience and workout in livestream fitness. Using our two-way live video technology, we are able to offer members engaging social features as well as an app that promotes an unparalleled level of connectivity within our community. We offer 100+ livestream classes a week across various modalities including Barre, HIIT, Strength, Yoga, and Boxing that are taught by a curated group of renowned instructors who hail from the best brands in boutique (Barry’s, SLT, Solidcore and Xtend Barre, to name a few). Our instructors will call you out if you drop a weight, support you when you need it the most, and truly care about you during your workout. I had been an early adopter of connected fitness, but once the pandemic hit, I struggled to find a platform that would inspire me, hold me accountable, and provide the tech features that I needed to really feel connected to my workout. So in June 2020, I started bande with the goal of addressing all of these pain points and growing a like minded community of fitness lovers and wellness enthusiasts like myself.
What was your journey like to get to this point?
Starting bande and running this company has been the culmination of many experiences in my life. I love looking back and thinking about how many of my experiences playing sports in high school and college served as a foundation for bande. I always loved the aspect of training and competing with others, and bande fills that void. My experiences as an investor have also contributed to the decisions I make and particularly, my diligence in hiring, which is key as a start-up. Over the last 15 months, it has been all about learning as quickly as possible and applying it to the business. Despite feeling like I’m playing catch-up sometimes, I try my best to look back at our wins and the amazing brand and community we have built. I am so proud of our team of instructors who have taken this medium to another level and their ability to help people achieve their best workout. Our product is also a V1 that I can be proud of – our sound and visuals are better than anything I’ve seen on the market. Plus, our Whisper feature is truly unique. You’ll have to try it.
What is your greatest strength?
What motivates you?
Building something that changes peoples’ lives. I’ve seen incredible changes in both my colleagues and the clients who are noticeably stronger when taking our classes consistently. We hear from so many people who have been positively impacted by bande, saying it’s the most essential part of their day and they don’t have the aches and pains that their friends have because their core is so strong. We have others who say bande has led to improvements in the sports they love to compete in and just simply feeling stronger doing their daily tasks like raising kids and being productive at work.
What are some of your daily habits?
– First thing in the AM, Bande workout (usually Barre or HIIT) every day!
– Wake my kids get their day started on a good note, jokes, riddles, reading, and breakfast time
– On most days, I try to get out for a mountain bike ride with my husband or ski the Teton Pass, depending on the season.
– Family dinner every night.
– Work most nights until I go to bed.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I’m in the process of that, but it will be raising good human beings. So far, so good. I want to raise kids who contribute positively to society and who are builders. As a founder, particularly a female founder, I’m proud that I’m able to set a good example for my kids about the importance of hard work, making an impact, and that everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender, has the ability to be a leader.
Where do you accomplish your best work?
My best ideas come to me after I’ve cleared my mind with a tough workout either on bande or in the mountains.
What was your first job?
I was 14 and I taught tennis to 3-5 year olds at a local country club. I really enjoyed seeing that I could make a small impact on these kids and had some value and wisdom to impart, even at a young age. I also swept the tennis courts, which wasn’t nearly as fun, but taught me that there are always aspects to a job you won’t like.
What charities are important to you? What does philanthropy mean to you?
bande gives 1% of revenue to a different charity every quarter with a focus on children’s health and wellness. We have selected the Kyle Pease Foundation, CityKids, and SteadyBuckets so far and look forward to continued partnerships with other non-profits that share our mission of helping people lead healthier and happier lives. I’m personally invested in charities that are focused on education. During COVID, my husband and I founded Atlas Scholars to give college scholarships and internship opportunities to kids who want to go into finance. We had 17 Atlas Scholars this year (70% women and most first generation college attendees) who are going to the college of their choice without the worry of debt. We are really excited about the prospect of growing the foundation over time and creating a positive cycle of contributions to society. Philanthropy means making the world a better place by empowering more people who wouldn’t have the chance otherwise.
Where do you see the future of fitness going?
Well, virtually of course. I think the virtual world or should I say, the metaverse, will continue to be a strong force in the industry, even in a post-pandemic society. As technology gets better and better, there will be less of a reason to deal with the friction or hassle of in-person workouts. At the same time, people will always have a need for connectivity. bande seamlessly merges these two worlds by focusing on authentic emotional connections through relationships with instructors and fellow members. You are seen, you are pushed, and you are cared about on bande. In this seemingly cold world of tech, people will be looking for something real and that’s what bande is.
Candace Cordelia is a Pennsylvania-based journalist and on-camera broadcaster/host, with a reporting background in wrestling, entertainment, and lifestyle. Her reporting work has been featured on websites and in publications such as Bustle, Pro Wrestling Illustrated, New York Daily News, am New York, ABC News, Yahoo!, Good Morning America, Madame Noire, Sister 2 Sister, etonline.com, Diva Dirt and The Everyday Fan. Her favorite workout influencers include Chloe Ting, Cassey Ho, Pamela Reif and Mary Braun. She still can’t stand burpees and Rebbl Dark Chocolate Immunity Elixir is one of her favorite post-workout protein sips. You can follow Candace on Twitter @CandaceCordelia and on Instagram @thatgirlcandace16.