According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, the global fitness industry earned revenues estimated at $83.1 billion in 2016, up from $81 billion in 2015, and growing by 2.6%. If it continues at this rate, it should reach $87.5 billion in 2018. As of now, numerous AI vendors claim to assist gyms with signing up new gym customers, developing nutrition and fitness programs, and maintaining good customer relationships. Some offer chatbots that they claim can help gym members maintain personalized fitness regimens.
We researched the space to better understand where AI comes into play in the fitness industry and to answer the following questions:
- What types of AI applications are currently in use in fitness?
- What tangible results has AI driven in fitness?
This report covers vendors offering software across two applications:
- Gym Management Software and CRMs
Gym Management Software and CRMs
Vida Health offers a software which it claims can help individuals and enterprise employees maintain their health and fitness by finding and working with a one-on-one coach using a machine learning-based app.
Vida Health claims its application is capable of matching individuals with a Vida Health coach or therapist based on their health goals, desired coaching style, biometrics, availability, and location.
To start using the app on a mobile phone, users must first provide information about their health goals, whether they are related to physical condition, weight loss, or stress relief. They must also choose their preferred coaching style. Based on the information, the machine learning model behind the app searches its database for attributes similar to those the user selected and match the user with a coach that can help them meet their goals.
The machine learning model behind the app is also used to tailor fitness and health programs to the user, such as weight loss programs, personal training, and race training based on a users’ health goals, behaviors, and preferences. Some of the fitness activities include resistance and strength training, yoga, and cardio workouts on a treadmill and bike.
Vida Health also gives enterprises access to health risk scores for their employees that take into consideration an employee’s health insurance claims history and biometric data such as their blood pressure and BMI. Vida Health then uses this information to tailor specific fitness programs to these employees.
To track their progress on the app, users are encouraged to log their intake of water, food, and sugar, as well as their cigarettes usage and amount of sleep and exercise.
The company claims their software can link to more than 30 connected health trackers and 100 apps and devices, including digital weighing scales, heart rate monitors, blood pressure cuffs, and glucometers. Among the devices that Vida Health connects with are Fitbit, Garmin, iHealth, Jawbone, Runkeeper, Strava, Withings, as well as Apple Health.
Below is a short 2-minute video demonstrating how Vida Health works:
Vida Health does not make available client studies but lists AstraZeneca, Ebay, Steelcase, and West Marine as some of its past clients. It has raised $24.3 million in funding from Canvas Ventures, NGP Capital, Khosla Ventures, The Valley Fund, Aspect Ventures, Slow Ventures, GV, Jesse Draper, Beehive Holdings.
Pramod Khincha is CTO and VP for Engineering at Vida Health. He holds an MS in Computer Science from the Santa Clara University. Previously, Khincha served as Director of Engineering at LinkedIn and Yahoo.
Perfect Gym Solutions
Perfect Gym Solutions is a Polish company that offers a gym management software, which it claims can help fitness and sports clubs using a combination of machine learning, business intelligence, and analytics.
Perfect Gym Solutions claims the software includes customer relationship management, club management, a mobile app, a client portal, business intelligence and analytics, automated marketing, payments, and integrations with 3rd party vendors. These applications, according to the company, are applicable for use in independent and enterprise fitness clubs, swim schools, trampoline parks, leisure facilities, physiotherapy studios, and yoga studios.
Using the CRM, the club management could segment data to know customers by gender, age, preferred workouts or fitness classes, or workout times to determine the factors that could contribute to the club’s revenue. The machine learning processes the members’ behavior, determines which of the classes the gym offers yield the lowest ROI, and recommends more popular classes to the gym to boost members’ attendance to it.
The company also claims that the model collects data about member preferences, workout history, and other facets of the customer to determine which gym offers would interest the customer most. The application could be set to automatically notify clients about these offers.
The application may be integrated with third-party tracking tools such as smart watches and heart rate monitors to help trainers track the member’s workout performance. The machine learning then guides the trainers in creating programs for members based on the member’s data, goals, and progress.
Being able to track the member’s workouts and aggregate this data could inform the gym management on which machines or parts of the gym are used the most or least. This could allow the gym management to make informed facility decisions that could potentially improve customer experience.
We could not find a demonstration video available for the software.
Perfect Gym Solutions claims to have helped Gold’s Gym in Jordan manage the facility and allow the sales team to convert leads into paying members. Gold’s Gym is one of the largest training facilities in the Middle East. The club management needed an application that would boost sales.
The case study did not provide exact details about their sales process, but we can infer that the Gold’s Gym management used the Perfect Gym CRM to give its sales team a view of the lifecycle of prospective gym members, specifically the part where their prospects seem to drop off.
Using historical data in its database and comparing it with the attributes of the prospective member, the algorithms can predict if a prospect might drop off. Knowing this guides the sales team in developing personalized offers such as a personal training package or lower membership pricing to convince prospects to enlist.
The case study did not provide information about how sales have grown since implemented Perfect Gym.
Perfect Gym Solutions lists Precor, Life Fitness, FlySky Trampoline Park, Spark Unicity in Mauritius, Fitness24Seven Colombia, as well as Gold’s Gym in Egypt, Oman, and UAE as some of its clients. The company has raised $6.4 million in funding
Jacek Szlendak is CEO at Perfect Gym. He holds an MS in Computer science from Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology in Warsaw. Previously, Szlendak served as CEO at Creadhoc and Zlote Wyprzedaze.
Virtuagym is a Netherlands-based company that offers an online platform that enables gyms and other fitness organizations to manage the administrative and training aspects of their fitness businesses using business intelligence and machine learning. More specifically, the application enables fitness clubs to manage membership, billing, and online payments, retention, hardware, point of sale, as well as members’ training, nutrition, scheduling, and coaching.
The company claims that their model can help trainers engage with clients by enabling push notifications and tracking client progress from a distance via integrations with wearables and smart monitors.
For instance, gym managers will be able to view the reservations for slots in classes over the last years. This allows managers to predict in the future which classes and time slots will be popular. Combining data logs about nutrition, workout performance, age, weight, and gender will also give the model a basis to predict a member’s success at achieving their goals by searching its database for results with similar attributes. It also guides the trainers to recommend other workouts or nutrition plans if needed.
Below is a 9-minute video demonstrating the financial model of Virtuagym:
Virtuagym claims to have helped Nestle in Switzerland manage the company’s fitness facilities. As a major employer, Nestle took responsibility for its employees’ wellness. With its increasing number of fitness members, the company needed to find a replacement for its locally installed legacy software, which was installed on only one desktop. “It was slow, and annoying, and outdated in the age of the cloud,” says Laurent Bischoff, Digital Innovations Manager at Nestle.
The company needed a more modern platform that could be deployed in multiple locations. Nestle’s basic requirement was access control and member management, using employee access cards with a barcode scanner.
Today, the fitness centers enable the entrance of employees with badges, their spouses, and company retirees. After this feature was integrated into the Virtuagym software, the other functions were added.
The company can follow-up with members and collect important medical information to help them customize the fitness training plans, using the more than 4,000 animated exercises. The mobile community of members also helps the gym-goers receive answers for any inquiries. The administration-focused modules also helped the Nestle’s gym staff with scheduling.
Virtuagym also lists Crossfit Vechta, XSport Fitness, Sweat Equity, Posch Fitness as some of their past clients.
The company has raised $10.2 million in funding from Endeit Capital, Saffelberg Investments, and Sanoma Ventures.
Paul Braam is the CEO at Virtuagym. He holds an MS in computer science from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Previously, he served as CEO of Digifit and Project Manager at Everest BV.
Chatbots for Fitness
Zova is an Australian company that offers Zara, a mobile application which it claims provides fitness enthusiasts with smart, personalized workouts using natural language processing capabilities through a chatbot. According to the company, Zara customizes the workout programs to individual users.
We could not find a demonstration video available for the software.
The application also features an Activity Score which averages the user’s activity level for seven days, including all steps they take and workouts they do, and determines an intensity level for these activities.
The algorithms might then go through its database of trainings and workouts that have similar attributes as the user’s lifestyle and recommend workouts that will help the user meet their fitness goals. The workouts can be streamed and logged using Zova.
Our research yielded no results when we tried to find case studies nor customers for the software. The company has received $850,000 after two rounds of funding.
We were unable to find any C-level executives with AI experience on the company’s team.
FitWell is a UK-based company that offers a chatbot named Hailee, which the company claims can help individuals track their fitness progress.
The application features training services that are based on the users’ goals, whether they want to be stronger, flexible, or toned. The app’s algorithms will search for its database for training programs that match the user’s preferences. Over time, the algorithms will adjust the workouts depending on the user’s previous performances to ensure they achieve their goals.
The application also includes a bot that the company claims enables users to track meals and snacks by providing detailed nutritional information on their food intake.
Over time, the company claims that the bot learns the user’s food preferences based on their questions and their food log and could make meal suggestions through a customized daily and weekly meal plan. The company also claims that the bot could potentially recommend places to go for fitness activities.
We could not find a demonstration video available for the software.
Our research yielded no results when we tried to find case studies, clients for the software, nor a C-level AI expert within the company. The company has received $1.5 million after four rounds of funding.
Boltt Sport Technologies
Boltt Sport Technologies is an Indian company that offers tech applications that aim to improve users’ health, fitness, and sports performance. The offerings include a natural language processing-based voice or text chatbot that serves as a coach.
The company claims that over time, the coaching chatbot collects data and learns the pattern of the user’s daily activities and health habits. The app then uses this data to find similar patterns in its database. Based on that, it offers guidance on exercise, sleep and eating habits to help keep the user stay on track with their health and fitness goals.
The company also claims that the chatbot enables the user to reflect on their daily activities to determine where improvements can be made.
Below is a short 1-minute video demonstrating how Boltt works:
Boltt does not make available any case studies reporting success with their software, client lists nor C-level AI expert within the company. It claims to have partnered with UAE Trigon and Quantifi South Africa. The company has raised $600K in funding from unnamed investors.
Takeaways for Business Leaders in the Fitness Industry
Based on the companies featured in this report, it seems the most viable applications would be those the end-to-end solutions offered to fitness clubs and enterprises. On the business and management side, these applications are the best-funded ventures and they are backed by PhD-level computer science talent.
The fitness club management applications also feature the most case studies and marquee clients as well as broader success rates, while the chatbots provide individual testimonials.
From the fitness club management applications, businesses can expect the AI to help management predict which prospects will sign up, which parts of the gym or classes are most used, or which workouts and nutrition plans would work best for individuals.
The companies offering fitness club management applications do not clarify integration times. Some of them also come in modules, enabling businesses to conduct a phased integration. It is unlikely that integration with these platforms requires an in-house data scientist on the part of the client.
AI-based Fitness chatbots, however, provide cause for concern. The chatbots discussed in this report have all raised relatively little money, and the companies offering chatbot solutions for fitness do not employee AI or computer science talent on their C-teams.
Business leaders in fitness may want to avoid these companies until they can demonstrate success by listing case studies and clients on their websites. Businesses that can afford it may want to look into AI vendors that build vendors for multiple industries. Some of these companies seem to have real traction, as discussed in our report, Chatbots for Customer Service.
Header Image Credit: Groove Health & Fitness