Zoom's New Vision for Online Fitness

Connected Fitness

Everyone knows Zoom.  During Covid, everyone has used Zoom regularly, and if you’re reading this you probably took or even led a group fitness class on Zoom.

Zoom has the best video chat technology out there among any of the tools designed to host meetings (WhatsApp has some pretty great video chat tech, but it’s not for hosting classes with anyone showing up).  But Zoom up to now has had a single video chat experience for meetings - everybody has pretty much the same experience of Zoom video chat, from a quarterly sales meeting to a yoga class.

Not any more.

In order to keep growing, Zoom is pivoting from an end user video meetings tool into a broader communications platform.  If you look through their website, it includes text chat (like Slack), a phone system (like Twilio or any of the SMB digital phone systems), a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system (like HubSpot or Zendesk), an events platform (like Hopin, for hosting virtual conferences and tradeshows) … and increasingly embedded software developer tools.

Zoom has launched a new product called the “Video Software Development Kit (SDK)”.  This is essentially a way to embed Zoom into other apps, but it then doesn’t look like Zoom anymore.  In fact, a person using an app with embedded video chat including this new Zoom Video SDK would know that he or she was doing video chat, but would have no idea that it was being powered by Zoom.

Why is Zoom doing this?

Well it turns out there’s a big market for making software components and services that other companies then build on top of.  For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most profitable part of the whole of Amazon, and it hosts servers and software services on the internet.  Mindbody, Peloton and tons of other companies you would know are actually built on top of building blocks (like legos - see below) from Amazon’s AWS.

For Zoom, their goal is to work with other software companies who focus on particular use cases and sectors, and still make some money from being part of the solution.  A great example is telehealth - there are all kinds of product features you need for telehealth, Zoom doesn’t want to become a healthcare software provider, but it wants to enable the video call part of the user experience.

There are lots of industries in which Zoom would like to see its new embeddable Video SDK used to create app experiences that are designed just for that use case.  Here’s Zoom’s diagram from their slide deck about the SDK:

So how about fitness?

Zoom has some special initiatives that focus on the fitness industry running internally, because their leadership team places a high value on wellness more broadly.  But they’re also working with partners, and at Tribe we are a special partner in fitness with Zoom.

Each year Zoom hosts its Zoomtopia annual user conference.  It’s a big deal with thousands of people showing up (in person and virtually) to see what new products and features Zoom has added to their offerings.  This year it’s next month in mid November, and is being held in person in San Jose.

For Zoomtopia next month, Zoom has selected Tribe as its launch partner for the new Zoom Video SDK.  Not just in fitness and wellness, Tribe is the launch partner doing a joint demo with the Zoom development team to show to thousands of software developers across all industries.

Why did Zoom pick Tribe?

Several reasons:

  1. Tribe’s demo of our own product to the software developers building Zoom’s SDK wowed them.  Like they were bring their friends over in the office to look at it.  Honestly, this was the main reason.
  2. The Zoom business team that works with their SDKs believes that Tribe has a great solution for lots of brands in the fitness industry.
So what does Tribe do for live fitness classes that Zoom’s regular meeting app doesn’t do?

Here are some examples:

  1. Wearables - support for live data from Bluetooth heart rate straps and smartwatches.
  2. Leaderboards - so people can rank and compete against each other based on their performance.
  3. Timelines - with segments and countdown clocks during the class.
  4. Camera access rights - so class participants can decide who gets to watch them during class.
  5. Media clips - allowing a coach to include prerecorded movement libraries alongside live coach video.
  6. Content management - lists of upcoming live and past on-demand classes, all in great user experience like Apple Fitness+.
  7. Easy white labeling - apps in the app store with your logo on them and your design versus just looking like regular Zoom.

Zoom is building video chat for everyone, not just for fitness coaches.  A developer program is how Zoom can support the fitness industry without having to become a fitness software company itself.

If you’re hosting a video meeting, use Zoom.  At Tribe we’re a customer and we all use Zoom every day.  But if you’re hosting live group fitness classes, check out Tribe, and see what got Zoom so excited.

You can access Zoomtopia for free virtually, just register on the website. A case study of the Zoom & Tribe partnership is available here.

Another way to take a test drive is to try a live class from Tribe’s showcase studio - theBEAT.  We’ll be doing a live class demo using the Zoom Video SDK from theBEAT during the Zoomtopia presentation, but theBEAT team also host free live fitness classes you can go try each week to see Zoom’s new Video SDK in action.

Justin Marston

Thinker, writer, innovator, runner, Star Wars fan

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