Rising fitness star Cass Olholm has clapped back at her former employer with a dramatic win in court that paves the way for her to immediately launch her rival business.
Bikini Body Training Company feared the Queensland influencer’s Train With Cass App, due to launch on Thursday, could potentially draw away up to $1m in revenue as subscribers move from Sweat, the company’s massively popular training program, to Ms Olholm’s new offering.
The company, founded by South Australian fitness tycoon Kayla Itsines but now owned by a US company, went to court to block Ms Olholm from launching her app on Thursday, arguing her move breached restraint of trade clauses.
But Judge Jack Costello denied Bikini Body the injunction, which means Ms Olholm can now compete immediately with Sweat.
“The applicant (Bikini Body) has not made out a prima facie case that it has a legitimate commercial interest to protect, or one that requires the imposition of a restraint,” Judge Costello said.
“The applicant has not made out a prima facie case the restraint period of 12 months is reasonable.
“On the evidence it has not a prima facie case that any further period is required to break the connection between its subscriber clients and Ms Olholm.
“An award of damages would not be an adequate remedy for the applicant.”
Ms Olholm and Ms Itsines were close collaborators in the fitness space, with Ms Olholm regularly appearing in Ms Itsines’ Facebook videos after she joined Bikini Body in 2020.
The company reportedly brings in about $65m in revenue each year.
The Train With Cass program is also a subscriber business, currently priced at $21.99 a month or $139.99 a year.
On Tuesday, the warring parties laid out their arguments before Judge Costello.
Nicholas Swan, representing Bikini Body, argued Ms Olholm’s “attractive force”, or the goodwill she possessed and which Bikini Body had paid her for, should not be used to build up a rival business inside of the 12-month restraint clause.
“The main question in this case, as we see it, is whether until February next year is a reasonable time,” he said.
“That is the core point. In our respectful submission, 12 months, in the context of the history of this matter, in the context of the nature of the business, in the context of what is involved, is eminently reasonable.”
Thomas Macfarlane, representing Ms Olholm, said it was unreasonable for the company to try and restrain his client’s goodwill, something he said she had built up herself over several years, including years when she was outside of the company, and something that was outside of non-compete protections.
Ms Itsines sold Sweat to US company IFit in 2021 for a reported $400m.
The court heard Ms Olholm had spent some $580,000 preparing the new business.
Judge Costello also ruled Bikini Body must cover Ms Olholm’s legal costs.
It is understood Bikini Body will pursue a full trial against Ms Olholm and the parties will meet again for a trial directions hearing on October 23.