If you start the week with the best of intentions and promise yourself you’ll hit the gym before work, only to hit snooze when your alarm goes off at an unholy hour, you’re not alone.
According to Ian McCaig, co-founder of Fiit (a fitness technology member of Plexal), just 15% of Brits have a gym membership, and of those 5% are classed as “reluctant users” (people who drag themselves to the gym but don’t enjoy it), 5% love hitting the gym and a whole 5% barely even go at all. Clearly gyms aren’t working for most people – something Fiit is looking to tackle with a healthy dose of tech.
Featuring the hottest personal trainers, Fiit allows users to live stream classes (choosing from three categories: strength, cardio and rebalance). Taking things a step further, they can strap on a Fiit wearabale device to monitor their heart rate, calories burned and reps completed. To keep people monitored they’re also given the option of setting personal goals, earning Fiit points, trying to smash their own personal best or even competing against a friend.
By incorporating these interactive, gamification elements – coupled with the fact that you don’t need to leave your house or even get out of your pyjamas to join a class – Fiit is hoping to tackle the biggest problem most people face when trying to stay active: motivation.
“The gym can be an intimidating place for a lot of people, not to mention the fact that travelling there is a major sap on your time,” says McCaig. “A lot of the more mainstream gyms also tend to have a one-size-fits-all approach and be very crowded, impersonal and anonymous – not great for creating the sense of community that helps people stay motivated to stick to their regime.”
Being a data-driven fitness company has also allowed Fiit to understand the habits of its users (for instance, they take a Fiit class roughly eight times more frequently than they would normally visit the gym) – and it’s even thrown up some surprises.
“We found that about a third of our male users are taking a Rebalance class, which focuses more on stretching, yoga and Pilates,” says McCaig. “That’s definitely not something we predicted when we launched and it leads us to conclude that there are a lot of male yoga fans in the closet who are perhaps put off by going to a class in person.”
McCaig, an ex-Googleer who went on to found personalisation software company Qubit, says his ultimate goal is to help people lead more active lives by making exercise so convenient, accessible and downright enjoyable that it becomes a healthy addiction (rather than a necessary evil):
“I believe the solution to tackling the global inactivity crisis lies in technology – this isn’t something that will be solved organically by traditional fitness providers. The revolution in fitness and the industry’s digital transformation is already taking very quickly, much faster than the pace of change you saw in e-commerce over a decade ago. And London – especially Olympic east London where there’s a real sporting legacy – is the ideal place to be setting up a fitness technology company.”
Fiit’s ever-growing team is based here at Plexal, while its studio (where all the content is filmed) is just a few hundred metres away elsewhere in the Here East campus. And despite only having launched a few months ago, Fiit’s growing fast and is making big plans:
“If you think about video streaming you think of Netflix. If you think about taxi services you think Uber. And if you think about digital fitness? There’s still no one tech company owning that space. There’s no doubt that there will be some major fitness tech players emerging in the next few years, and we hope Fiit’s one of the unicorns coming out of London.”
You heard the man: this revolution is coming and it will be live-streamed.