Hosting Online Workouts Part 7: The Bottom Line

Connected Fitness

Alrighty then, that became a kind of epic blog series on the complex answer to the question “Do I need my own fitness app?”, but here’s the key take home messages:

  1. Almost all fitness apps will have their backends running on one of the (server) clouds from Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
  2. The vast majority of these fitness apps share core technical components or building blocks, just as Peloton, Tonal, Mirror, Tempo etc do.
  3. “My own fitness app” typically means a branded icon in the app store, but what’s behind that app icon varies dramatically - from an “off the shelf” app with custom colors to something that’s much more unique.
  4. The more custom your app, the greater the risk levels and investments for both upfront creation and ongoing support.
  5. The more custom, the more subscribers you need to make a profit, and the less personalized the experience tends to become (like when you have 10,000 people on a Peloton ride).
  6. The vast majority of boutique fitness studios use gym management software from Mindbody, Mariana Tek etc rather than reinventing the wheel.  Building an interactive fitness app “from scratch” is more like reinventing the engine.
  7. Expectations of interactivity (e.g. calorie leaderboards) are increasing in fitness apps, and that stuff costs a lot more to build as a one off custom solution than just having a video on demand library.
  8. In the commercial fitness apps space, Covid and 2020 have together spawned a ton of apps and marketplaces trying to connect trainers and coaches directly to end users - disintermediating boutique studios.
  9. In fitness apps you could use, there are options where you just participate in their app space (more like being on YouTube or Facebook) and others that allow white labeling and branding - so it looks more like “your own app” without needing to reinvent everything under the covers.

At Tribe, we believe that boutique studios and influencers are going to continue to want to brand their digital offerings (including white labeled apps), but (unless you are Equinox and Variis) we are taking the bet that this means branding an existing platform not working with a customer development shop.  You don’t want to try to stand toe to toe with Apple and Peloton in a user experience dance off without a kick ass backing troupe.

The good news is that local boutique studios already have incredible interactivity in their studios, with more accountability and community than Apple and Peloton will likely ever achieve in pure digital offerings.  

Hybrid is the most compelling future for digital fitness that keeps people engaged and hitting their fitness goals - at Tribe our focus is enabling a boutique studio’s online workouts to be as interactive and high quality as possible, including through white labeled apps.

Justin Marston

Thinker, writer, innovator, runner, Star Wars fan

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