Interview
Sharad Mohan, Trainerize

Since the pandemic began causing lockdowns and gym closures across the world, there’s been unprecedented interest in services that digitally connect trainers and gyms with their clients. Trainerize was ready and primed to help. Co-founder and CEO Sharad Mohan explains how


What was your background before co-founding Trainerize?
I started my career in the world of customer support. In university, I worked in retail – at The Gap, MEC, and Future Shop – and loved every element of customer service. Then, after my degree in computer science, I entered the industry as a tech support agent and leaned into that focus for my career.

The concept shifted from customer support to customer success, and I worked my way through the ranks, eventually joining the executive team at Hootsuite, running the customer success team there and later, at Vend. The idea of customer service is still a huge focus for us at Trainerize.

How did the idea for Trainerize come about?
Trainerize was inspired by my experience of going through physiotherapy in the early 2000s. Between sessions, I would forget how to do my exercises, I’d lack motivation, and the whole experience felt really mundane. I just knew there had to be a better way to do it.

When smartphones came onto the scene, The other two co-founders – Trevor Chong, our product director, and Ricky Ying, our director of engineering – and I decided to do something about it.

We made the business a reality by keeping our day jobs but dedicating almost every other spare minute we had to Trainerize. We expanded our founding team and were joined by our COO, Farhad Gulamhusein, and our quality assurance director, John La, and together we crammed into one of our apartments and worked on the app every night. We weren’t focused on revenue, we were focused on creating solutions.

Tell us about Trainerize – who is for and what does it do?
At its core Trainerize is here to make fitness accessible. We want to leverage technology to personalise the fitness experience, both online and in person, by connecting clients to real, live coaches. Though trainers and gyms are our customers, the ultimate customer is the end user or ‘the client’, and our priority is to drive motivation for them.

Interestingly, we actually originally built a consumer fitness app, but we realised that if we were going to live up to our mission we were missing a critical component: the personal trainer. We shut down that company, pivoted our focus, and launched Trainerize as we know it today.

What are some of the different options you offer for customers?
Our value proposition at Trainerize is client engagement through a mobile app. We support fitness, nutrition and habit coaching for the fitness consumer – all guided by a qualified professional. Trainerize gives the ability for any fitness business to have a custom branded mobile app on their clients’ smartphones.

If I’m a client of a trainer, their custom branded app will tell me what to do for the day. It could be a workout, but it could also be choices and habits: am I going to walk instead of drive? Am I going to drink eight glasses of water today? I have the ability to finish a workout, check off my habits, and track my meals.

There’s also the element of communication: my trainer can message me at any time, I can do the same, and I can join virtual groups to motivate me and give out high-fives.

What’s the process for PTs or clubs to get set up on Trainerize?
At Trainerize, we take great pride in how easy it is for users to set up the product themselves. Creating an account and building training programmes is simple, but we know that the product is only as effective as the overall strategy it fits into. That’s why our onboarding process for new sign-ups includes a lot of education – and not just about product features!

Education is our not-so-secret ingredient in the onboarding phase of new users.
We encourage our trainers to think hard about their online training strategy. Are they offering hybrid training, with a mix of in-person and online sessions? Are they focusing on online only? Do they have additional training packages available as add-ons? How are they marketing their services and reaching potential clients?

Anyone can sign up at trainerize.com for a free 30-day trial and get up and running in that time. For gyms who want their own custom branded app, our studio team will get them going within 4-6 weeks.

How is Trainerize different to competitor platforms?
In a couple of ways – starting with how we impact the world. Sure, everyone talks about revenue and number of users, but we talk about the impact our trainers have on peoples’ lives.

We’re really proud of the 100,000 workouts tracked in our app per day. Close to a million meals are tracked every day, and anywhere from 20-40 thousand habits are tracked per day. If we didn’t exist, those 100,000 people may not have been motivated to make those healthy choices. We take pride in how our customers use our product.

Second, we started our app as a way for people to get motivated and invested in their health. People on Trainerize work out an average of three times per week. We know what it takes to get consumers working out.

How do you stay creative and innovative?
We believe there are creative solutions to every problem. We’re growth-minded; we encourage our team to get comfortable being uncomfortable. To us, being uncomfortable means we are all growing, trying new things, and are more likely to succeed in this fast-growing industry of fitness technology.

This value manifests itself in our product. A lot of what we are building did not exist before. We pivoted to online training in 2012 and were the leader – we have an eight-year head start – and we’re widening that gap every single day.

We look ahead too. Right now, we see our users focusing in on wearables, so we’re leaning that way too. We’re always looking at what technology will exist soon and what trends are emerging and are working to connect the dots to the fitness and technology landscapes.

How has Trainerize grown since you began?
It’s been a bit explosive during COVID-19! But our focus has been strong, consistent growth since our pivot to online training. We’ve consistently grown 50 per cent year over year, not just in users but also in usage.

Beyond the business metrics, the company has grown too. We’re now a team of more than 50 people all working on the same mission to make fitness accessible. Most of us are located in Vancouver, Canada but we have team members all around the world.

How many businesses use Trainerize?
We have 19,000 fitness businesses on the app, and within that, we have 150,000 coaches around the world using Trainerize. Our key markets are in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, but if you point to a country on a map, we probably have trainers there using the app. We recently took a peek and discovered we have trainers using us in Laos, Mauritius, Rwanda, Gibraltar, Latvia – we really are everywhere.

What are your future goals for Trainerize?
We never stop looking for the next big way we can empower our trainers to motivate and engage their clients. We are always observing the fitness landscape. We see a boom in connected devices right now. We love the growth of tech with Peloton, Mirror and Apple Watches. We want to keep observing what the digital fitness consumer is interested in.
I also see nutrition in our future – it’s lacking in the industry but our customers love that focus. How can we help people make better food choices? I see us going deep there in the future.

What is Trainerize?

Trainerize helps trainers reach new clients, build stronger relationships with their existing ones, and promote a healthy lifestyle for everyone.

The platform allows trainers and fitness clubs to deliver on-demand and video workouts for between US$5 and US$300 a month, depending on volume. PTs can take their members online with workouts, on-demand classes, in-app messaging, progress tracking and group training, engaging a community with virtual access to their studio.

Tranerize plans start from US$5.00 per month, up to $300 per month for unlimited clients / Shutterstock/Jacob Lund
Trainerize acquired by ABC
Trainerize pivoted to online training in 2012

On 15 September 2020, Trainerize was acquired by ABC Financial (ABC), a leading provider of technology and related services for the fitness industry.

“The addition of ‘Trainerize powered by ABC’ allows us to create a total fitness experience,” said Bill Davis, CEO of ABC Financial. “In a total fitness experience, the gym plays a central role as it provides all the equipment, guidance and community that many people thrive on. And now with Trainerize, ABC can extend the health club beyond the walls of the gym to include all the aspects of fitness in a personalised and seamless solution that promotes healthier lives by helping clubs put their members first, wherever they are.”

“Our mission is to make fitness accessible,” said Sharad Mohan, who will join ABC Financial as managing director. “Together with the ABC team, we have the opportunity to positively influence the lives of over 25 million members and expand the solution for the 150,000 trainers who use this product.”

“As people discover new ways to access health and fitness content, we are enabling trainers and fitness operators to bring together exercise, nutrition and health to create the total fitness experience, personalised and powered by technology, wearable data and app integrations. It’s an exciting time for the industry and I am thrilled that Trainerize and ABC are shaping what’s to come,” Mohan said.

ABC Financial will be adding the entire staff of Trainerize to its team. ABC clients can purchase ‘Trainerize powered by ABC’ as an add-on module, and Trainerize will continue to be available as a stand-alone solution that can be used with other club management solutions.

The announcement came a month after ABC acquired GymSales, a leading international provider of fitness sales management tools.

100k workouts are tracked by the Trainerize app every day Credit: Shutterstock/Studio Romantic
Credit: photo: trainerize
Credit: Shutterstock/Studio Romantic
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Fit Tech
2021 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Sharad Mohan, Trainerize

Interview

Sharad Mohan, Trainerize


Since the pandemic began causing lockdowns and gym closures across the world, there’s been unprecedented interest in services that digitally connect trainers and gyms with their clients. Trainerize was ready and primed to help. Co-founder and CEO Sharad Mohan explains how

Mohan co-founded Trainerize after experiencing boredom in physiotherapy photo: trainerize
100k workouts are tracked by the Trainerize app every day Shutterstock/Studio Romantic
photo: trainerize
Shutterstock/Studio Romantic

What was your background before co-founding Trainerize?
I started my career in the world of customer support. In university, I worked in retail – at The Gap, MEC, and Future Shop – and loved every element of customer service. Then, after my degree in computer science, I entered the industry as a tech support agent and leaned into that focus for my career.

The concept shifted from customer support to customer success, and I worked my way through the ranks, eventually joining the executive team at Hootsuite, running the customer success team there and later, at Vend. The idea of customer service is still a huge focus for us at Trainerize.

How did the idea for Trainerize come about?
Trainerize was inspired by my experience of going through physiotherapy in the early 2000s. Between sessions, I would forget how to do my exercises, I’d lack motivation, and the whole experience felt really mundane. I just knew there had to be a better way to do it.

When smartphones came onto the scene, The other two co-founders – Trevor Chong, our product director, and Ricky Ying, our director of engineering – and I decided to do something about it.

We made the business a reality by keeping our day jobs but dedicating almost every other spare minute we had to Trainerize. We expanded our founding team and were joined by our COO, Farhad Gulamhusein, and our quality assurance director, John La, and together we crammed into one of our apartments and worked on the app every night. We weren’t focused on revenue, we were focused on creating solutions.

Tell us about Trainerize – who is for and what does it do?
At its core Trainerize is here to make fitness accessible. We want to leverage technology to personalise the fitness experience, both online and in person, by connecting clients to real, live coaches. Though trainers and gyms are our customers, the ultimate customer is the end user or ‘the client’, and our priority is to drive motivation for them.

Interestingly, we actually originally built a consumer fitness app, but we realised that if we were going to live up to our mission we were missing a critical component: the personal trainer. We shut down that company, pivoted our focus, and launched Trainerize as we know it today.

What are some of the different options you offer for customers?
Our value proposition at Trainerize is client engagement through a mobile app. We support fitness, nutrition and habit coaching for the fitness consumer – all guided by a qualified professional. Trainerize gives the ability for any fitness business to have a custom branded mobile app on their clients’ smartphones.

If I’m a client of a trainer, their custom branded app will tell me what to do for the day. It could be a workout, but it could also be choices and habits: am I going to walk instead of drive? Am I going to drink eight glasses of water today? I have the ability to finish a workout, check off my habits, and track my meals.

There’s also the element of communication: my trainer can message me at any time, I can do the same, and I can join virtual groups to motivate me and give out high-fives.

What’s the process for PTs or clubs to get set up on Trainerize?
At Trainerize, we take great pride in how easy it is for users to set up the product themselves. Creating an account and building training programmes is simple, but we know that the product is only as effective as the overall strategy it fits into. That’s why our onboarding process for new sign-ups includes a lot of education – and not just about product features!

Education is our not-so-secret ingredient in the onboarding phase of new users.
We encourage our trainers to think hard about their online training strategy. Are they offering hybrid training, with a mix of in-person and online sessions? Are they focusing on online only? Do they have additional training packages available as add-ons? How are they marketing their services and reaching potential clients?

Anyone can sign up at trainerize.com for a free 30-day trial and get up and running in that time. For gyms who want their own custom branded app, our studio team will get them going within 4-6 weeks.

How is Trainerize different to competitor platforms?
In a couple of ways – starting with how we impact the world. Sure, everyone talks about revenue and number of users, but we talk about the impact our trainers have on peoples’ lives.

We’re really proud of the 100,000 workouts tracked in our app per day. Close to a million meals are tracked every day, and anywhere from 20-40 thousand habits are tracked per day. If we didn’t exist, those 100,000 people may not have been motivated to make those healthy choices. We take pride in how our customers use our product.

Second, we started our app as a way for people to get motivated and invested in their health. People on Trainerize work out an average of three times per week. We know what it takes to get consumers working out.

How do you stay creative and innovative?
We believe there are creative solutions to every problem. We’re growth-minded; we encourage our team to get comfortable being uncomfortable. To us, being uncomfortable means we are all growing, trying new things, and are more likely to succeed in this fast-growing industry of fitness technology.

This value manifests itself in our product. A lot of what we are building did not exist before. We pivoted to online training in 2012 and were the leader – we have an eight-year head start – and we’re widening that gap every single day.

We look ahead too. Right now, we see our users focusing in on wearables, so we’re leaning that way too. We’re always looking at what technology will exist soon and what trends are emerging and are working to connect the dots to the fitness and technology landscapes.

How has Trainerize grown since you began?
It’s been a bit explosive during COVID-19! But our focus has been strong, consistent growth since our pivot to online training. We’ve consistently grown 50 per cent year over year, not just in users but also in usage.

Beyond the business metrics, the company has grown too. We’re now a team of more than 50 people all working on the same mission to make fitness accessible. Most of us are located in Vancouver, Canada but we have team members all around the world.

How many businesses use Trainerize?
We have 19,000 fitness businesses on the app, and within that, we have 150,000 coaches around the world using Trainerize. Our key markets are in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, but if you point to a country on a map, we probably have trainers there using the app. We recently took a peek and discovered we have trainers using us in Laos, Mauritius, Rwanda, Gibraltar, Latvia – we really are everywhere.

What are your future goals for Trainerize?
We never stop looking for the next big way we can empower our trainers to motivate and engage their clients. We are always observing the fitness landscape. We see a boom in connected devices right now. We love the growth of tech with Peloton, Mirror and Apple Watches. We want to keep observing what the digital fitness consumer is interested in.
I also see nutrition in our future – it’s lacking in the industry but our customers love that focus. How can we help people make better food choices? I see us going deep there in the future.

What is Trainerize?

Trainerize helps trainers reach new clients, build stronger relationships with their existing ones, and promote a healthy lifestyle for everyone.

The platform allows trainers and fitness clubs to deliver on-demand and video workouts for between US$5 and US$300 a month, depending on volume. PTs can take their members online with workouts, on-demand classes, in-app messaging, progress tracking and group training, engaging a community with virtual access to their studio.

Tranerize plans start from US$5.00 per month, up to $300 per month for unlimited clients / Shutterstock/Jacob Lund
Trainerize acquired by ABC
Trainerize pivoted to online training in 2012

On 15 September 2020, Trainerize was acquired by ABC Financial (ABC), a leading provider of technology and related services for the fitness industry.

“The addition of ‘Trainerize powered by ABC’ allows us to create a total fitness experience,” said Bill Davis, CEO of ABC Financial. “In a total fitness experience, the gym plays a central role as it provides all the equipment, guidance and community that many people thrive on. And now with Trainerize, ABC can extend the health club beyond the walls of the gym to include all the aspects of fitness in a personalised and seamless solution that promotes healthier lives by helping clubs put their members first, wherever they are.”

“Our mission is to make fitness accessible,” said Sharad Mohan, who will join ABC Financial as managing director. “Together with the ABC team, we have the opportunity to positively influence the lives of over 25 million members and expand the solution for the 150,000 trainers who use this product.”

“As people discover new ways to access health and fitness content, we are enabling trainers and fitness operators to bring together exercise, nutrition and health to create the total fitness experience, personalised and powered by technology, wearable data and app integrations. It’s an exciting time for the industry and I am thrilled that Trainerize and ABC are shaping what’s to come,” Mohan said.

ABC Financial will be adding the entire staff of Trainerize to its team. ABC clients can purchase ‘Trainerize powered by ABC’ as an add-on module, and Trainerize will continue to be available as a stand-alone solution that can be used with other club management solutions.

The announcement came a month after ABC acquired GymSales, a leading international provider of fitness sales management tools.


Originally published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 1

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd