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Fitmo – Humanizing Health And Fitness Technology

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Dave Roeloffs

Written by: Dave Roeloffs, CEO and Founder of Fitmo


Our story begins down under. I was living in Sydney at the time, and while health and fitness wasn’t exactly at the top of my list of priorities, I was staying with a friend who was very health-conscious. He would run every single morning without fail and ask me to join him. After weeks of harassment, I finally gave in. I bought a pair of running shoes and joined him the next morning.

I remember that run so vividly. Sydney is an amazing place and my route through the botanical gardens, around the Opera House and over the harbor bridge with the sun coming up was unforgettable. I was surrounded by all these good-looking, healthy people in their workout gear. It was as if I had stepped into some kind of parallel universe. I loved the experience and was amazed by the positive energy it gave me afterwards. I didn’t know it at the time, but that would be the life-changing experience that would eventually lead to the creation of Fitmo.

My new healthy lifestyle got me thinking about health and fitness more generally – if being healthy felt so good why are so many of us struggling to stay fit? I realized that while most people want to be fit and healthy, we often lack the knowledge when it comes to achieving our health goals. Where to start? Who’s opinion to trust? We get the gym memberships and buy the gadgets, but none of these offer a solution to keep you motivated. Most of us need someone to hold us accountable. Someone who motivates us when we slack off or another person to share our accomplishments with. In other words, a personal trainer.

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However, there’s a problem: personal trainers don’t come cheap and very few people can afford that level of support – this is why I started Fitmo.

Coaches have the desire to specialize however their current business model does not allow them to do this. They are forced to be general as their immediate area of coverage is geographically-bound and their price point is so high that very few people can afford their services. Fitmo allows coaches to find their coaching niche – which most of the time is their passion – and we match them with people who share that passion. As a result the chemistry between coach and client is much better and we really see friendships emerge.

Running Fitmo hasn’t been a walk in the park, that’s for sure. We still face many challenges as we evolve our business model. It’s a tricky one as the human aspect of our service plays such a significant role and generally makes it harder to control the experience. However, the human aspect is also the reason why our clients love Fitmo compared to other health apps that offer a generic, algorithm-driven, solution. While it’s still a work in progress, we are testing our app every day in order to fine-tune our user experience. We’re aiming to provide a service that connects like-minded people so that both client and coach get the most out of their relationship.

In this sense, I like to think of us as emulating some of the techniques Amazon employed to create a platform where even the most eccentric writer could find an audience. This is what I would like to achieve with Fitmo where coaches and clients with very specific interests are matched and friendships are formed.

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It is our ambition to become the Uber or Airbnb of online coaching services. Whether you want to run a marathon, need guidance throughout your pregnancy or want to climb the Kilimanjaro – you will be able to find your coach-match on Fitmo. As we grow so will the diversity of coaching expertise.

What I love about FItmo is hearing the success stories of our customers. People who have managed to turn their lives around. In the end that is what makes all of this worthwhile. The life of a startup entrepreneur and the people around them is not an easy life. Lots of sacrifices are made, time away from family and friends without any guarantees of success. Quite frankly you need to be slightly insane to do this, but I believe that personalisation is key for successful behavior change and this level of support should be available to everyone – not just the 0.3% of consumers who can afford it. We are on our way to democratize these preventative health coaching services which will help to improve the lives of millions of people around the world. That’s what gets me out of bed every day.

When I came up with the idea several years ago, the technology wasn’t quite there nor was the willingness for people to form online relationships. You don’t really build a intimate relationship with someone through a unreliable skype connection where the screen freezes or the connection drops. In the meantime wearable technology has moved from the quantified self scene to the mainstream and it’s completely normal to form online relationships due to better, more intimate, forms of communication. Desktop applications have moved to mobile apps and the accessibility of broadband internet means we can have crystal clear video call sessions right there on our smart phones.

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However, it’s becoming increasingly evident that automated systems are not living up to their potential or claims. A recent study by Endeavour Partners has shown that a third of US consumers who used a wearable fitness product stopped using it within 6 months of purchasing it – fitness apps just don’t seem to be delivering the kind of long-term behavioral change that they should. Even companies like Lumosity – the brain training app had to settle with a $2M fine after being sued for false or unsustainable claims. Human-to-human (via tech) offers in our eyes the best potential for sustainable behavior change – that’s where Fitmo comes in.

When I think about it, we have come a long way. But one thing I know for sure, is that this is only the beginning of a journey that could take us anywhere and I’m looking forward to the ride.

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