Back in 2017 I joined a gym.
There isn’t anything particularly special about that statement, as I think i’ve probably joined about 10 gyms over the last couple of decades. Yet there turned out to be one rather fundamental difference. This time it worked!
What I mean is, rather than just traipse along to the gym once or twice a week and follow the same workout routine, I joined a gym that had a Personal Trainer element, and we kept records of results from every session. And guess what? Yep, It worked! Not only did I maintain a strict attendance of three times a week, but I also gained significantly more muscle mass, and was able to feel fitter and stronger than at any time since my mid-twenties.
Coming from someone who’s now nearer 50 than 40, that’s been quite an achievement.
Key to all of this was the PT element of course. Having someone scheduling your workouts, pushing you in the right direction whilst keeping a watchful (sometimes even shouty) eye on your form, really worked well for me. But there was one thing that bugged me.
This new gym insisted that we each kept records on an A4 sheet of paper strapped to a plastic clipboard. Notwithstanding the time lost each session in finding your clipboard out fo the 200+ lined up, but the archaic way of recording limited data really seemed inefficient to me. Now I develop Apps and databases for a living, and I’d also been a member of a gym some years before which ran the full Technogym setup complete with your personalised Workout Key. Of course that sort of investment starts somewhere north of £250k, and is out of reach of most smaller gyms. But as I looked around my new gym I noticed that almost everyone had a smartphone – surely there was a way to use existing technology to create a better tracking and reporting system?
One of the key things for me was to be able to let small gyms, and PTs – who may only have a handful of clients – be able to professionalise their offering, without needing to invest in any new IT kit. I also wanted to make it easier for PTs to be able to track and monitor how well their clients were doing during those workouts when they weren’t present, and all of this had to happen through an easy-to-use interface that could be accessed whilst slowing down on a running machine!
And so, during my next set on the bench press, rather than concentrating on my form or my breathing, I was trying to work out how long such an app would take to develop.
In the end I was only out by six months, (but I least I hit a Personal Best of 105kg) – so it’s not all bad!
The following day I started sketching out the design and User Interface, and getting feedback from the gym team and some other PTs locally. Everyone who saw it seemed pretty positive which really helped with the motivation. I knew we had a lot of experience in developing Progressive Web Apps, and so I got started with the coding. I also wanted to try a different approach to getting it into the marketplace. And so rather than try one-to-one sales, I decided to help adoption by making the system free to all PTs, and let them invite their Clients to join their account if they liked the system.
No upfront costs, and only a very small fee (£3 per month) to the clients if they liked what they saw and could see the benefit of it.
As I write this we’re in the Pre-Launch phase to the early adopters, and feedback is again, really positive. I’ll be updating the website links for new signups later next week, and i’ll look forward to any more comments.