Jordanian athlete combines love for tech, fitness

Salah Haddad
Salah Haddad, founder and CEO of CONNECT TO FIT, combined his love for fitness and technology to start his own business. (Photo: Ghaith Al Bahri)
AMMAN — The MENA region’s first online fitness marketplace grew out of the pandemic and a mixed martial artist’s ties to the fintech community.اضافة اعلان

"The preliminary stages of CONNECT TO FIT has not been short nor easy," Salah Haddad, founder and CEO of CONNECT TO FIT, said in an interview with Jordan News.

"When I first began my career, I had worked for a few years in sales and marketing, from which I made the jump into the startup" scene when I joined CashU, MENA's first fintech startup.

Haddad added: "I began training with high-level and professional athletes and traveling the world, joining top training camps during more than a decade of the journey. I started gaining a vast network of professional athletes and fitness managers.”

However, working at a start-up provided Haddad with the tools and resources to operate a business while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

“I was blessed to be involved with CashU-Souq but knew that I was destined to create something that would contribute to transforming people's lives, and that's when I decided to start my own company,” Haddad said.

CONNECT TO FIT is a hybrid cloud-based fitness management software built to help businesses involved in fitness, as well as individuals. 

We are a two-sided platform, a SAAS (software as a service) and a marketplace for members-customers to book and pay for fitness services online.

Starting your own business can be risky and challenging Haddad said, adding that Jordan’s small market size and limited sources of funding were uniquely challenging. However, the Kingdom’s human resources and youth innovation make Jordan unique.  

"CONNECT TO FIT has enormous potential. We are enablers for fitness businesses who want to scale and grow," Haddad said. "Especially after the pandemic, digitalization is here and a must for businesses to survive. Also, after the lockdown, the demand for fitness services was huge because our community started to notice the substantial positive impact of fitness on the immune system and mental health of individuals of all ages.”

Haddad said that his goal is to connect Jordan and the Arab world to the world of fitness and wellness. 

"At the early stage of CONNECT TO FIT, we had so many doubts about how a company could do business through fitness and wellness. We were rejected by many because it was something new and new in technology in the region,” Haddad said.

But the concept ended up attracting customers. “We are currently a revenue-generating startup growing every month since we relaunched after the lockdown without any source of local or international funding,” he said.

The fitness company ended up filling a gap in the market, allowing gym owners and personal trainers to post their services and providing them with cashless payment options, Haddad said. The team is also preparing to launch a mobile application.

“CONNECT TO FIT is growing on average 40 percent month over month, and we just launched with a well-known fitness club in Cairo (Egypt),” he said, adding that the company offers live classes, management, online payments, bookings, and other marketplace offerings. 

At the beginning of the crisis, the activation of the national defense law put a stop to services provided by gyms and training services across the country.
However, the company responded by launching an online live streaming service for training services.

He also emphasized: "Staying active at home during lockdown is not only crucial to maintaining our physical status but is indeed essential to maintaining a healthy and balanced mental status.”

“We took advantage of the total lockdown and pivoted completely from our previous business model during the lockdown to a hybrid platform software to encourage trainers and gym owners to innovate and deliver classes virtually and physically,” Haddad said.

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