Edgard Corona is one of the celebrated entrepreneurs in the wellness and fitness sector. He leads Bio Ritmo and Smartfit, a network of fitness centers that spans Peru, Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Colombia. Corona was born in 1958 and trained as a chemical engineer at Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado (FAAP) right after secondary school. Before establishing his business, Edgard Corona ran his family’s sugar production plant, Açucareira Corona, which had a chemical laboratory. When he joined the family company, it was experiencing financial challenges, but Corona implemented a new business management strategy that drove the plant to profitability. However, he left the family business in the 1990s because of internal conflicts.
In 1996, Corona founded the Bio Ritmo chain in Sao Paulo by opening one unit even though he lacked experience in the fitness sector. As a result, Bio Ritmo faced several challenges during the first years of operations because of the company model’s hierarchical nature. Thus, Corona decided to make some changes to the administration to boost the company’s growth. With time, the demand for modern fitness centers increased. Edgard Corona visited the United States and came across Planet Fitness, one of the biggest networks of gyms at that time. Planet Fitness had a business model that aimed at providing top-notch services at competitive rates.
When Corona returned to Brazil, he decided to implement Planet Fitness’ business model, which helped him keep monthly charges constant despite the inflation Brazil faced from 2009 to 2014. Consequently, the number of gym subscribers increased to 500,000 in Latin America. Today, Corona’s fitness group has 480 gyms, becoming the fourth largest fitness conglomerate globally. In 2017, the gym chains earned over R$ 1 billion in revenue.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affected numerous businesses in the fitness sector, and Smartfit is not an exception. Edgard Corona announced the plans to temporarily close all his centers in Brazil and Latin America to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. However, the gym chain introduced a new digital program that offers free online classes to encourage students to continue their wellness and fitness journey during lockdowns. However, with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, Smartfit and Bio Ritmo have started to resume operations.