There are a lot of reasons not to go to the gym. You may recognize them as time, motivation, other plans or the mere act of going to a crowded, sweaty gym. Having a personal trainer helps, but cost remains a barrier for many.
With gymGO, founder Donavan Cox is looking to harness tech to help more people get access to personal trainers. The Columbia-based startup’s platform utilizes two-way video that allows trainers to provide instruction, and the people working out to do so from anywhere.
Along with convenience, adding live video helps make sure that movements are being done correctly. To Cox, it was important to have a platform that enabled “that true accountability between a trainer and a client.” It may seem like instructors in a video are talking to you, but it’s another thing to actually have them observing live and able to talk to you.
“They’re looking at you and communicating with you similar to how they would if they are in your presence,” said Cox, a former Baltimore police officer with 25 years of experience in fitness. The platform is “using technology to facilitate a session, but you don’t lose any of the things that make a personal training session effective,” like motivating and making sure movements are done correctly, he said. Group classes are also available.
The two-way communication is one among a number of models we’ve seen in the fitness video platform space. Owings Mills-based BurnAlong looks to keep the social aspect of workouts, while other startups stream directly from the studio or stationary bikes.
gymGo, which has a team of 12, officially launched the platform in May. Around the same time, personal trainer Gunnar Peterson, who is known for his work with celebrities and athletes, officially came on as Chief Training Officer.
Along with the clients, Cox is equally interested in helping trainers. In their case, time and proximity can limit the number of clients. By reaching more people on the web, “it opens up a whole new client base for you,” he said. Pricing is set up on a per-session model, with the trainer getting a percentage that is higher than in-person classes, Cox said. The startup also sees a big potential in user-generated content.
“It’s a great opportunity for individuals who are passionate about fitness to become entrepreneurs,” he said.