Digital is taking the world by storm, transforming everything in its path. While apps like Classpass and Fitmob are already disrupting aspects of the boutique fitness studio operating model, a new app, Aaptiv, is looking to eliminate the studio itself from the industry by completely digitizing the operating model of the boutique fitness experience. Aaptiv is an audio-based fitness application that provides members with a motivating workout routines right from their phone for a fraction of the cost of a boutique fitness studio membership. By synchronizing the podcast-esque voice recording of a personal trainer or class instructor with a curated playlist at the pace of a workout, members are able to access their workout on demand instead of paying $30+ for a class at a packed studio.
Former Wharton MBA, Ethan Agarwal, started Aaptiv in a desperate attempt to find an affordable, no-pressure fitness regime to help him lose the weight he gained during his time in graduate school. Conversely, he struggled to find a truly immersive fitness experience that was not compromised by staring at a screen to follow a video. The idea to develop a workout podcast-esque app centered around the customer value proposition of affordability, versatility of content and music selection, and ability to access certified personal trainers.
Aaptiv operates in the highly fragmented, competitive fitness industry and therefore its business model must deliver a differentiated value proposition for customers. Aaptiv’s promise to users is to deliver an on-demand audio experience comparable to studios like Soul Cycle by syncing the upbeat playlists hallmark to the boutique studio experience with the motivational guidance of a certified personal trainer. The app provides users with access to a list of workout categories and classes, which can be customized by filtering for aspects like desired distance, duration, level of intensity, and trainer. For only $10/month (or less if members opt into multi-month bundling packages), members are granted unlimited access to all classes and app features at their fingertips. These business goals are supported throughout every aspect of Aaptiv’s operations.
With the goal of bringing an elevated workout experience to a global community, Aaptiv uses technology to make the boutique fitness studio and personal trainer experience accessible anywhere. The Aaptiv platform leverages audio to merge the experience of working one-on-one with a personal trainer with the act of taking the highest quality fitness class. For that reason, Aaptiv’s operating model includes an extensive music library catered to customer preferences. While workouts or running to music is not new, the act of working out and exercising has evolved with digitization over time— from portable cassette tapes to delicate CD players and later to walkmen and other MP3 players. However, by adding audio fitness programs over music choices carefully selected for their beats per minute, Aaptiv is looking to transform the digital health and fitness experience even further.
Technology also influences how classes posted on the app are structured and performed. By allowing customers to rate their experience after each workout, Aaptiv can quickly iterate and implement incremental design changes to the app and/or class itself via user feedback. The rise of data-driven workouts and ability to continuously iterate allows developers to add 150-200 new classes each month, all of which are vetted by trainers, providing clients with variety that keeps them engaged and willing to continue use.
The app operates on a monthly membership model, and also carries a wide variety of classes including running, cycling, elliptical, yoga, and full 5k and 10k training programs. Such a range is not operationally feasible to offer at boutique fitness studios. Unlike boutique fitness studios, Aaptiv does not own gym infrastructure. Its main asset is the technology behind the platform and the content curated by the 14 professional trainers and 9 full-time staffers it employs.
Is Differentiation Sustainable Given Digitization?
While on demand and virtual programming is becoming big business, my fear is that the market may become oversaturated. While in this example, digitalization allows customers to access a wide variety of classes on demand, this operating model is easily replicable in the digital world. Further, it seems even more plausible for studios with cult followings like SoulCycle to replicate this operating model and eliminate apps like Aaptiv simply by leveraging its brand equity over Aaptiv’s.
Skyfit app puts personal trainer in your pocket http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/technology/sdut-skyfit-fitness-app-personal-trainer-2016aug12-story.html
SKYFIT Announces Rebrand to Aaptiv https://s3.amazonaws.com/aaptiv-assets/assets/documents/SKYFIT%20ANNOUNCES%20COMPANY-WIDE%20REBRAND%20TO%20%E2%80%9CAAPTIV%E2%80%9D.pdf
New Connected Home Health Data in Support of World Health Care Congress
Health And Fitness Apps Are Exploding In Popularity — Here’s Who Is Using Them, http://www.businessinsider.com/health-and-fitness-apps-exploding-in-popularity-2014-6
Skyfit Raises Seed Round http://stockguru.com/2016/06/01/skyfit-raises-1-52-million-seed-round-from-arena-ventures-and-pejman-mar-ventures-2/