FitTech Insider

Virtual Gym: The platformization of the fitness world

Apps instead of gym rooms, AI coaches instead of human trainers: technologies for virtualizing gyms are democratizing training. What innovations are currently driving the development of virtual training offerings, Nerissa Zhang (The Bright App), Tanya Parfenyuk (Zing Coach), and Emilia van Keyserlingk (Pepper)?


1. Nerissa: We build Digital Platforms for trainers

Nerissa: The true value asset of the gyms is the trainers. They engage and retain the clients, but historically make the least amount of money.  We wanted to build something that focused on the value-producing part.

For trainers, "The Bright App" does what Airbnb does for hosts. Our trainers get vetted, approved, and as long as they're up to date on their platform, they're able to see their schedules fill up with clients and get paid weekly.

80% of clients using The Bright App never tried personal training, so they don't even know how to choose a personal trainer. We've learned that most customers just want to be matched the way they were in a physical gym because they don't quite know who to choose. With the platform, clients see reviews of the trainers to know who is the best fit for them personally.


Nerissa Zhang: In the front for remote personal trainers
Nerissa Zhang's path as a CEO started early on when she was selling Girl Scout cookies. She founded a daycare and catering company before entering the FitTech world. Today, she runs two private gyms and founded The Bright App. (🤝 Meet Nerissa at Linkedin)

The Bright App: A turnkey solution to becoming a virtual trainer
The Bright App is a platform that turns trainers into digital entrepreneurs independent of Fitness studios. It promises trainers to earn 40% more income than common big box gyms. The Bright App also created a marketplace, where clients can find digital trainers throughout the whole world.
(👁️ Check out The Bright App)


2. Tanya: We make real sessions digital

Tanya: The Zing coach is deep tech. Our core component is building fitness AIs, based on data and the platform. The innovation: We put data from real sessions and make it digital. Since many people started to work out remotely during the pandemic, they redesigned their living rooms. Many of them created a workout space at home and filled it with gadgets. This is the opportunity we saw and we are complementing it with more content.

It's hard to replace humans. We don't have real trainers, but we offer video content which is a big need for those who train at home. People have expectations about a coach's personality and style. Some prefer the strict, more boot camp style of trainers while others want to get the feeling of exercising with a close friend. We ask people what style they expect in their coaches and adapt it to the content we deliver.

Training with video isn't just mimicking what you see and hear. We also wanted the clients to get some feedback also get feedback, so we decided to work with a computer vision company. With the scanner industry, we can have a broader position of training and this functionality will change the workout significantly. Soon we might have avatars and get digital feedback constantly.

100% growth every six months ...
... and 200.000 downloads Zing Coach received within the first year since founding.


Tanya Parfenyuk: In the front for remote personal trainers
Tanya Parfenyuk started her career at software companies Viaden, Apalon and became Chief Product Officer at fitness app Verv in Minsk. In 2020, together with health tech company Palta, she founded the app Zing Coach. (🤝 Meet Tanya at Linkedin)

Zing Coach: Up for a chat with your AI Fitness Coach
Zing Coach is an A.I. trainer designed to turn all fitness and smart home gadgets into a personalized workout experience. The App uses intelligent software and provides immediate feedback to create individualized and customized training regiments.
(👁️ Check out Zing Coach)


3. Emilia: We merge app and wearable

Emilia: We deliver software and hardware through our electronic muscle simulation coach Pepper. We have developed software providing content that is connected to your suit. There you can control the intensity during the workouts. We're setting our focus on the software - but also on the community. The community encompasses our EMS experts, our trainers, and our user base.

I think the solution for the fitness industry including gyms is hybrid. During the pandemic, many people bought themselves a Peloton or discovered fitness apps and I believe the trend is here to stay. People will continue to train at home. At the same time, there will be a target group that will continue to go to the gym. Our approach is to have hardware that not only makes training much more efficient but can also be used anywhere - including the gym. Pepper is at this interface between staying at home and going back to the gym from time to time.

All the trends in the fitness market are going towards gamification. These elements were also embedded in our product. We already have various gaming elements in the app. We also see opportunities in our hardware. By wearing the suit to get electrical impulses, you can also integrate sensors or certain wearables which will help you track your data.


Emilia van Keyserlingk: The high performing EMS-enthusiast
Emilia von Keyserlingk studied in Munich and Beijing before joining the consultancies Accenture and PwC focusing on Digital Operations. In 2021, she founded the start-up Pepper.
(🤝 Meet Emilia at Linkedin)

Pepper: EMS-suit training in a content pack
The 2022 founded Startup Pepper combines Electronic muscle stimulation training with a diverse set of individual workouts within the App. With the help of the wireless EMS suit, workouts are claimed to be 300% more effective.
(👁️ Check out Pepper)


4. These trends will shape the market


Many women avoid gyms, but not the virtual trainer
Nerissa: Every year, $10 billion are spent in the gym industry - but mostly by men. Women just don't go to the gym for various reasons. But training makes them feel better, makes them more productive and happy. They deserve as much personal training as men. With the remote personal training "The bright app" offers, 70% of the clients are women.

The new text message from your trainer: the integration into messenger apps
Tanya: Trainers might soon be integrated into messenger apps as people feel comfortable with that form of communication. Zing coach and comparable solutions are focused on messenger applications to meet clients where they are at.

More wearables, more fun
Emilia: As Gen Z enters the FitTech space, they will drive the market. They expect to exercise with more wearable integrations and with the overall goal of having more fun. This will shape the fitness industry of tomorrow.

17,6% annually growth for the fitness App market ...
... is expected from 2022 until 2030 according to grandviewresearch.com.


Context of this article: FitTech Summit - FIBO Edition: High Tech Society

The context of the contents of this article: The sixth FitTech Summit at FIBO 2022. The German- and English-language business conference asked: How are fitness technologies (Fittech) developing our society? Answers were provided by 14 experts on three live stage shows:
Power to the People - how fittech is changing the reality of (new) audiences.
Cases of Places - how Fittech transforms places of (public) life.
The Planet's Tenet - how fittech influence worlds and systems.

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