Startups

Upswing Fitness’ founders want to bring connected, remote workouts beyond the pandemic

This forthcoming app is the brainchild of two West Chester-based fitness enthusiasts who entered the tech space with the help of a fractional CTO to solve a timely problem.

Upswing fitness cofounder Chris Putsch (L) and Shaun Ziegler.

(Courtesy photo)

West Chester-based cofounders Chris Putsch and Shaun Ziegler were visiting the gym multiple times a week when the pandemic shut down nonessential businesses.

Like many others, they found themselves trying to replicate the gym experience as best they could at home. Putsch, who was diagnosed early in his life with with type 1 diabetes, had used exercise and sports to help regulate his numbers. He worked on the side as a personal trainer and had a handful of clients when the pandemic hit the Philly region.

There were some at-home options like Peloton and small group fitness classes, but the experience of following a workout plan with clients or hitting the gym with friends just wasn’t the same. He recruited Ziegler that summer and the pair began work on what’s now known as Upswing Fitness, a tech solution to replicate group workouts or working with a personal trainer.

“I wanted to be able to put my clients into a group program that everyone could do on their own time,” Putsch told Technical.ly. “I went looking for a software, but none of them brought members together the way I was looking for. They loved being able to interact even though they were stuck at home.”

A view of the Upswing app. (Courtesy photo)

So Upswing Fitness’ platform, which launches to the public June 1, does just that. He got connected with fractional CTO Nico Westerdale, who began work on a platform that would allow trainers to connect with their clients and release fitness content to them. Members can follow a coach for free, or subscribe to their “upspace” for exclusive content and plans. Members themselves can also friend each other and follow progress.

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With Westerdale’s help, the cofounders got the app to MVP stage and brought on a dev agency for further iterations.

Putsch and Ziegler “came with a huge vision of the product,” Westerdale said. “We made technology choices that gave us speed to market, discussing the tradeoffs of where we needed to spend time, versus where we could go quickly. Now we’re in the exciting moment of building out our own internal team, bringing on skilled engineers to refine the UX and add in features that our founding trainers are asking for.”

The platform is currently a progressive web app, but will become an iPhone and Android app before their launch to the public. It’s built on React Native, Node.js and stored in Firebase with the goal of being very mobile friendly.

Though Putsch’s background is in employee benefits, he wasn’t too intimidated to enter the tech space, with the right team. Currently, it’s a team of four with sales and marketing and one full-stack engineer under Westerdale.

“I’m a quick learner and  technology is all around us,” Putsch said. “I knew there was something here and that technology was the solution. If I wanted to build this, I didn’t really have a choice but to learn tech.”

While the platform was initially developed for the trainee-trainer relationship, the client base is expanding as they do beta testing to include nutritionists, life coaches and people working in exercise for mental health treatments. The world looks different than when the app’s conception came about in lockdown of 2020, but Putsch thinks that’s a good thing.

“I want it to be clear — COVID-19 forced people to work out from home and people are going back into the gym,” he said. “Were not strictly an at-home workout system. You can use us going into the gym and working out from home. It’s here to help supplement those experiences, whether you’re training in person, remotely, in a gym or at home.”

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