Hosting Online Workouts Part 4: Fitness Specific Apps

Digital Fitness

Fitness specific apps range from free to relatively expensive depending on the vendor.  The big advantage is that they are focused on fitness, and many add in features like heart rate and calorie metrics to bring interactivity - like Apple Fitness+ and Peloton.  Also, they work out of the box, so the cost and technical risk is significantly lower than custom building an app.  Most are focused on personal training or small groups versus larger classes or boutique studios, others are focused on fitness influencers.

  • Salut:  Salut has been founder by one of the executives from Twitch, and it’s specifically focused on fitness workouts.  There is no concept of studios today, their focus is more on individual coaches and trainers getting onto the platform to do live workouts with users.  They have live classes and on demand replays.  Coaches can get donations like tips similar to Twitch both live and on demand.  Right now the platform is free to use, the app will likely end up taking a commission on donations.  There’s no white labeling, gym management integration, customization etc - it’s like Twitch for fitness.  You can see other people working out alongside the coach, but it’s small on a phone screen, it does have text chat.  As of today, there are no leaderboards, fitness wearable integration, casting, etc - but a lot of that is likely coming.  Video quality is OK, but not as good as say Vimeo or YouTube Live, likely due to the tech being used.
  • Recess:  Similar conceptually to Salut, it is an online workout platform for trainers.  Instead of being donation based like Salut, users pay per class, and they buy coins (in app currency) to pay for workouts.  Typical prices are $12 to $15, that will be split with between the platform and coach, but some live classes cost less or are just donation based.  No mobile apps yet, no white labeling, no fitness wearable integration or leaderboards, no customization - it’s a desktop optimized browser app.  Some workouts can show timelines for sets and reps, and Recess supports emoticons like fire, clapping, punching, etc.  Having tested a workout, the video isn’t great quality today, likely due to the tech being used.
  • Exer:  Primarily focused on form analysis (using a computer to watch people working out and analyze whether they’re doing it right), Exer is similar to what Tempo’s doing with their specialized camera for computer vision.  Exer Studio is designed for coaches to use in live workouts with their clients.  Exer also has an SDK and the ability for other companies (like Tribe) to embed its form analysis tech.  The studio product is free right now while in beta, it doesn’t include any video chat tech inside the studio itself, but the studio is designed to be used alongside Zoom, Hangouts, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, etc.  There’s no white labeling or customization yet, other than embedding the SDKs (hard), but Exer is more cutting edge on the form analysis side right now as opposed to an end to end virtual workout solution.  As special 3D sensors become mainstream in the recent iPhone Pros, form analysis likely will become a big deal, but it’s still a bit on the “rocket science” end today.
  • PNOE:  PNOE is definitely all about hard core fitness, and metabolic analysis in particular, where you wear a Darth Vader mask and then measure your workout efficiency.  But they also have a Virtual and Live training tool, and it has some nifty features specific for fitness.  Yes it has coach video and participant video similar to Zoom, but it also integrates via a mobile app with Bluetooth heart rate straps and Apple Watch for heart rate zones and calorie counting, if you do the metabolic test with the mask.  In addition, the tool has embedded form analysis for a library of movements to try to see how well the participants are working out, and the ability to correct form.  There’s no white labeling or gym management system integration today.  The user experience seems more designed for small group classes up to 20 than larger classes for 50+ attendees, although it supports 200 users based on the screenshots.  Pricing is 50 cents per user per workout, so a 50 person class would cost $25.
  • Uptivo:  Based in Italy, Uptivo started off similar to MyZone focused on group heart rate tracking with their own fitness bands, and then moved into remote workouts during 2020 as Covid hit.  For their in gym solution, their bridge box works with other bluetooth heart rate bands like Polar and Wahoo, for their virtual solution it only works with their own fitness bands - there’s no support for Apple Watch etc.  They don’t have much customization, gym management integration or any white labeling, pricing for up to 500 members is Euro 117 per month.
  • Spivi:  Spivi is entirely focused on fitness, and in particular group cycling classes - they have a virtual cycling platform a bit like Zwift but for group classes.  It integrates with bike sensors to look at power output and cadence, so if you’re a spin studio, it’s definitely worth looking at.  They have two way video with galleries as well, like Zoom, and heart rate monitoring.  The user experience is a bit dated as the company has been around for 10 years and it seems more Windows focused, but the group riding experience is quite unique for local spin studios.  Pricing is $69 per month and then 69 cents per attendee per class.
  • MyZone:  MyZone started off with their own heart rate straps and a solution for heart rate leaderboards in gyms and studios, similar to Orange Theory Fitness.  They have a virtual offering with coach video combined with a leaderboard showing calories and heart rate zones of participants.  Participants can’t see each other, but they can show their video to the coach.  The video streams are actually powered by Zoom, so you need a Zoom Pro account as well.  There’s no white labeled apps or integration with systems like Mindbody, so you have to create the class in the MyZone admin panel.  MZ-remote costs $150 per month.  
  • LIFT Session:  Their primary focus is larger studio franchises like Equinox and small group training.  Their experience is web-based (no apps), and laptop / desktop only (not mobile).  They use two way video where people workout and the coach comments on form etc, often using clips from a large movement library rather than the coach doing the workout.  There’s no heart rate sensor integration, but LIFT Session attempts to estimate calories burned based on info about the person working out and monitoring their movements on video chat.  Branded pricing starts at $500 per month and they can do a lot of customization on top of that, base pricing starts at $149 per month, and then $4 to $6 per 30 minute session.  Overall the regular user experience feels a bit dated compared to the others.
  • Zomo:  An early stage fitness streaming platform, it has two way video with the coach and activity points (not based on heart rate data).  It does have a separate laptop and iPhone interface, and a timeline for the workouts for the coach to follow.  No white labeling or gym management system integration, and it’s currently free.
  • TrainHeroic:  Another app for personal trainers and boutique studios, it’s really designed for individual training.  It has a library of video clips of exercises (you can add your own) and lets you build programs for members.  There’s no live video option, no white labeling, and no out of the box integration with gym management tools (TrainHeroic really is a fitness management tool).  Pricing varies from $10 to $400 per month depending on the number of “athletes” being trained.  There are a lot of apps like this for personal trainers, video is often one feature in a broader solution, and the app often hands live video off to Zoom or another video chat or live streaming platform.
  • Playbook:  Playbook is one of several companies aimed at fitness influencers who have built large Instagram followings but now want a way to monetize.  It’s well designed and feels high quality, and it feels like an “Instagram premium”, with workouts based on short clips in chapters versus continuously recorded video.  There’s no white labeled apps or gym management system integration as that’s not the audience here.  The platform is free for creators to use, then they take 20% of subscription revenue from fans, and a 3% credit card transaction fee (a similar percentage to OnlyFans, but with fitness focused content).
  • TalentHack:  In Spaces, TalentHack has a platform designed for trainers and fitness influencers to engage with their clients and followers.  It supports live video, on demand video and in person classes - with both the technology and the billing mechanisms.  Trainers can create workout content, challenges, programs etc on the platform.  There’s branding but not white labeling - a trainer can have their own web page with their logo but it’s part of the TalentHack site, and there are no mobile apps yet (though that’s likely to change).  I asked them about using in boutique club setting, and they were transparent: “Some studios/gyms use us but very candidly, we are a great solution for a solopreneur, probably not the best solution for a company with tons of instructors.”  There’s no integration with Mindbody etc, though they did offer to “facilitate a migration over from MindBody”.  Pricing is 8% booking fees or $35 per month and around a 3% fee - live video is done over Zoom.  They also have a marketplace offering where they bring the clients, and take 30% of the revenue for that.
  • Sutra:  Another solution for individual trainers to do digital classes and charge for them, Sutra has video on demand on the platform then integrates with Zoom for live classes.  They have an iOS app but no Android app it seems, there’s no app white labeling or gym management integration.  Pricing is free and an 8% booking fee or $25 or $50 per month for premium packages.
  • Moxie:  A trainer marketplace similar to Salut and Recess, Moxie has web and mobile app options for live and on demand classes.  There’s no white labeling, wearable support or gym management integration, but the target is individual trainers not larger boutique studios.  They do integrate with Feed.fm for commercial music options though.  Video quality is better than some of the other options here, but not amazing or as good as you would see in video on demand platforms (so a bit fuzzy and jerky).  Pricing is either an 8% or 12% transaction fee.

If you really care about brand, these fitness specific apps may not scratch your itch.  We find that the larger the business, the more emphatic they are about getting custom branding and white labeling, so these apps are more suited to individual trainers and fitness influencers than boutique studios or boutique chains.  If you are trainer or influencer, it might still be worth taking a look at companies that do offer white labeled apps, as they tend to have regular offerings without white labeling too, and the pricing for many of them is not that different to some of the options given above.

Justin Marston

CEO
Thinker, writer, innovator, runner, Star Wars fan

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