In this episode, Rick Mayo interviews Farhad Gulamhusein, Trainerize Cofounder and COO. Trainerize is the largest personal training digital fitness app in the world. They built it with one purpose in mind. Learn why they built the app and how that purpose drove exceptional growth and an eventual acquisition in 2020. They are on a mission to make fitness accessible.
Here at Alloy Personal Training Fitness Franchise, we use Trainerize as one of our software vendors. It came in handy during the pandemic closures by helping us keep our retention rates high even when other fitness facilities lost clients.
We live in an increasingly digital age where everything we do has a digital touch, and fitness is no exception.
To succeed in the fitness business, you must continually improve the customer experience and keep your clients engaged, even when they are not inside your facility. Personal training apps are great at achieving this.
” Persevere through the hard times and stay consistent.”
Farhad Gulamhusein – Best Business Advice Received
How Did Trainerize Become A Viable Business Concept?
Farhad is one of 5 Co-Founders of Trainerize. Sharad Mohan was another Co-Founder, and he is now the CEO after the acquisition in 2020. Farhad and Sharad were both computer science grads from the University of British Columbia. They met at the same software company they both went to work for after school. They met the rest of the Co-founders at that company while working together.
Sharad had an accident and needed physiotherapy. He tried to figure out how to do the therapy exercises from looking at the stickman figures they provide on the exercise cards. They thought there had to be a better way to deliver these workout instructions to people so that they can actually perform the exercises correctly and track their progress. In the early days of their fitness app, around 2008-2009, there weren’t many fitness apps on the market. Mobile technology was limited at the time and mostly Blackberry devices were in use.
When the iPhone came out and other touchscreen devices, fitness trainers started approaching them to use the first prototypes with gym members. After extensive research, they determined gym member’s pain point is they don’t know how to do exercises and they have limited access to a fitness professional in the gym. So in late 2012, early 2013, we officially launched a trainer facing fitness app. The initial app wasn’t pretty initially, but it has come a long way since then.
The business lesson for entrepreneurs is that many opportunities start with a personal experience or they experience a problem in a market. If you start with the customer experience first, like that physiotherapy session, and then work backwards to build the technology, that it is the best way to approach the product creation. They built a machine to solve that problem, perform market research, and bring it to market.
That’s how the Trainerize mission was born to make fitness accessible to everyone. They want to connect everyone with a fitness professional. It sounds like a lofty goal, but achievable. Everybody is more successful with a coach.
“Make Fitness Accessible to Everyone”
The Trainerize Mission
Just like Alloy, the Trainerize mission is to bring the price down to make personal training more accessible and cheaper. Alloy chose them because they wanted a suitable vehicle to communicate with clients, not only in the gym but also outside of the gym. A big part of what a personal trainer does is not to stand there and count reps for those two or three hours a week while they are training. It also includes the time outside the gym to help people adhere to better habits to reach their fitness and health goals. A big part of personal training is not only getting people to show up for training, but to do additional things outside the gym training hours to improve the quality of their life and reach their goals.
Should You Build Your Own App?
You run into people all the time that want to build their own app. Developing a branded software app (application) is not practical for many small and medium-sized fitness businesses. It is very expensive. We talked about why you should keep your main thing your primary business focus in Focus on the Main Thing to Succeed in Business. Mainly because you are not in the software business, and you’ll likely do a poor job at it. Developing an app incurs a lot of cost, time, and resources. When it’s not your core business, it’s a terrible idea.
Why Alloy Chose Trainerize
For Alloy, it was a smart move to partner with Trainerize, who already had the fitness app on the market. They already experienced all the development and improvement costs. Alloy needed these functions to help with trainers and clients. We also wanted the innovations and advancements Trainerize keeps releasing. While the user interface is so easy for clients, Trainerize has a lot of complexity, research and testing behind the user interface. They bring in many users to “kick the tires” and make sure it all works really well.
Trainerize has grown to about 120 employees, now well over 30,000 customers, where one customer could be a gym with 100 locations, for example. Users are definitely in the millions.
What’s Coming For Trainerize?
They have a lot of work with different modalities. They have had a focus on fitness, personal training, and member experience for clubs and studios. Then we brought in the habit programming, which we are still developing. So nutrition is kind of next and there will be a whole evolution in nutrition. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to help empower trainers by automating tasks to perform better and achieve member results without having to think through all the pieces themselves. It isn’t necessarily to replace people, but to bring on efficiencies, like one click instead of two. Or algorithms that can deliver the human connection quicker, or be a more seamless operation.
There are ups and downs in entrepreneurship, and the goalpost is always moving. The actual key is to always move forward. There’s always another challenge, and when you overcome that one, there’s another challenge. You learn to love this process in the middle of your business lifecycle. We talked about how you should Set Business Expectations With Kantor’s Law. Learn how Trainerize handled the middle part with innovation to get to their acquisition.
Farhad Gulamhusein shares the best advice he received: “persevere through the hard times and stay consistent.”
As you’ll be hearing in this episode, building an app that looks simple on the interface and has the innovations needed to keep adding features and updates takes a lot of time and money.
Farhad Gulamhusein. COO Trainerize
Sharad Mohan, CEO Trainerze
- How Trainerize came into being (01:36)
- Why you shouldn’t be building your own app (06:22)
- What it takes to build a ‘simple’ app and business (10:22)
- Innovation to drive growth (17:27)
- How technology enhances the fitness experience (18:22)
- Trainerize purpose and vision (19:03)
- The challenges of scaling a business (26:07)
- What’s next for Trainerize (29:26)
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