Why This Club Operator Created an App that Makes Training More Affordable

Personal training has been a mainstay in the fitness industry for years. It is one of the biggest revenue generators in the industry, and affords health club trainers opportunities to form personal relationships with members, while playing a direct role in helping them reach their fitness goals.

For Robert Shapiro, the owner of BodyScapes Fitness in Boston, Massachusetts, personal training has been very important. “I was a personal trainer — that’s where I got my start,” he said. “It’s always been an interest of mine.”

However, for all the benefits that personal training has, the service was declining in popularity at BodyScapes Fitness. Shapiro started to take notice that only about 5 percent of members were participating in personal training, and that number was declining.

Shapiro and his coworkers started to dig into why people weren’t participating in personal training as much as they used to in his market. What they discovered was a combination of cost, intimidation and lack of sociality holding people back.

As a big proponent of personal training, Shapiro was determined to find a solution. The result was the SPLITFIT app. “What SPLITFIT has done is create a way to workout with a personal trainer for $20,” said Shapiro.

The app’s users can workout with a trainer alone for $80, which is still less than traditional training in the Boston area, or split the cost among a group of four people, called a “pool.”

The SPLITFIT app grants people access to personal trainers and training sessions without having to join one specific gym. “It’s easy to use — it’s accessible,” said Shapiro. “You don’t have to be a member to come in.”

For consumers, it’s as simple as finding a time that fits their schedule at a nearby gym. No memberships are required and the trainers will even personalize your workout by answering a pre-workout survey.

According to Shapiro, SPLIFIT has recently earned great momentum, with 1,000 downloads in the last 60 days alone. And, 60 percent of the app’s users have never used personal training before.

“SPLITFIT puts [personal training] in a context where it’s on-demand and fluid,” explained Shapiro. “This is about the consumer — it’s not about the gym.”

But, the gyms that participate do benefit. For one, their trainers and facility get exposed to exercisers who might not have entered their gym if it weren’t for the app. According to Shapiro, some gyms are only accepting SPLITFIT sessions during off-peak hours, but they can put up as much or as little inventory as they’d like.

“We have 10 facilities on the app, and we’re adding more,” said Shapiro. “Gyms come on the platform and they put up their inventory — they put up whatever they want.”

The ultimate goal for Shapiro and SPLITFIT is to build up a deeper lineup of clubs in the Boston area, and then expand into the rest of the U.S. But for now, the immediate goal is perfecting the app’s ability to offer gym-goers an affordable, group-oriented workout customized for their needs.

“It is small group training if you think about it, but it’s access to a personal trainer that you ordinarily would never have gotten access to,” said Shapiro. “This is on-demand, and it’s more fluid — there’s no time commitment.”

Shapiro believes the SPLITFIT app will change the way consumers seek out personal training services, which will be important as the industry shifts to accommodate for Millennials and revolutions in technology.

“Think about it like Uber Pool — you’re all going to get to the same place, but you’re going to split the cost of the trainer,” explained Shapiro. “When you’re finished, you’re done. You don’t have to worry about signing up or the hard sell from the trainer.”

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