Interview
Kilian Saekel

Light, sound and vibration are being used by A-Champs to make training more effective and fun for amateurs and pro athletes alike. CEO Kilian Saekel speaks to FitTech about the power of multisensory stimulation


Tell us about A-Champs – what’s it all about?
At A-Champs we’re concerned that people of all ages don’t move enough to stay happy and healthy. And that’s why we’ve recently developed an interactive home training system that’s more fun and effective than any other way of training. It works body and brain at the same time and turns any training into a playful experience.

It’s a platform that features sports science-based training programmes and games – these are delivered through interactive sensor pods that come with light, sound and vibration. Through the app, the users can select different training content for all members of the family. These include: fitness programmes, active games and sports-specific training that lets you train like a pro athlete. And the cool thing is, you can even compete with others from all over the world via the global leaderboard.

Where did the idea for A-Champs come from?
My whole career I spent developing and manufacturing sporting goods in China. When my wife got breast cancer a few years ago it made us much more aware of how important it is to take care of ourselves and our health. Lifestyle and physical activity play a crucial role in staying healthy and fit. So once we got through with all her chemotherapy and rehab we decided to start a business to help families to stay fit, and that’s how the idea for ROX came up.

What was your first product and how did you develop it?
From the very beginning we have been producing solely ROX. The original idea was to recreate the Super Mario game in real life, where kids run between interactive light blocks to get points.

Overall, kids and parents loved the concept and experience, but we found that it was very difficult to market it as it required lots of customer education.

However, sports coaches immediately saw the value in our product. At that time training based on the reaction to light stimuli started to become a hot topic in pro sports, as sports science realised that this kind of training helped to improve crucial mental capacities – like sensory capacities, reaction, decision making, perception and concentration/alertness – of players.

The problem was that until then all available light training solutions were extremely expensive, not user friendly, and based on an old-school technology.

Based on this feedback, we developed our current product, ROX Pro, to be a smart training assistant for everybody in the game of training people. It’s the only interactive training system on the planet that not only comes with light, but also with sound and vibration – this is ‘multisensory’ stimulation, and it’s much more versatile and effective than pure light-based reaction training.

By now some of the biggest and most famous sport clubs and coaches use ROX Pro to create more effective and engaging one-to-one sessions with their athletes.

Who’s your target audience?
Our core target audience for the last 18 months has been performance coaches, personal trainers, amateur sports trainers, physical therapists and PE teachers.

With our new version – ROX Home – we are now targeting families who want to work out at home but who are bored with traditional ways of home training.

How customisable are your products?
The best thing about ROX is the fact that they are fully customisable. They can be integrated into any kind of training, at any place, and help people of all ages, fitness levels and abilities to get effective and engaging training done.

We have interactive content for fitness (HIIT, Family Fitness), active games and sports specific training so that you can train like a professional athlete in many different sports categories. All our programmes are developed by coaches and sports scientists who have worked with and for some of the biggest global athletes and teams.

Every interaction with the ROX is measured, so our users can also track all their sessions, either via the in-app analytics or via the cloud-based dashboard.

Have you done any scientific research into the impact your products have?
Our proprietary MSNP training methodology was developed by a team of sports scientists and coaches around our unique multisensory stimulation function.

Currently we’re working with Victoria University in Australia on a big research project to showcase the performance improvements in athletes and daily life.

How does gamifying fitness create better results?
It’s a key piece! But according to our experience, gamification will only have lasting effects if it is more than just earning badges in ‘boring’ training sessions. In our case we have two levels of gamification: first, we create training experiences that are fun and playful. By putting focus on tapping different lights and sounds while doing gruelling planks, for example, you stop focusing on the pain and you’ll be surprised how quickly 45 seconds can be over.

And then the more traditional gamification kicks in: in the app all results can be monitored and you can even compete virtually with people from all over the world. The competitive beast pushes the bar and makes sure that you don’t miss the next session.

What’s really cool is that this doesn’t only work for regular people in their home training. Even coaches of world-leading athletes report to us that integrating the ROX into their training helps to make athletes work harder and longer because they either want to beat their high scores or those of their teammates.

Do you have any plans for future products?
At the moment our focus is on the launch of our ROX at-home edition. On top of that we will soon launch the Cardio Cage – the ultimate 360-degree interactive training experience. It features our ROX Pro technology in a ‘Thunderdome style’ cage and delivers game-changing sports- and position-specific training as well as fully functional HIIT workouts for individual and partner training. Sports performance academies, as well as gyms around the world, are lining up to get a piece of the action!

We’re also currently taking part in the Techstars SportsTech Melbourne accelerator programme to bring the ROX training experience to Australia.

According to Saekel, top sports coaches report that ROX Pro makes athletes work harder and longer Credit: A-Champs
ROX is fully customisable and can be adapted for any age or ability Credit: A-Champs
Users can track their progress and compete virtually using the ROX app Credit: A-Champs
A-Champs uses play and competition as key drivers in its products Credit: A-Champs
The ROX Home interactive sensors can be used in a variety of settings Credit: A-Champs
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Fit Tech
2021 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Kilian Saekel

Interview

Kilian Saekel


Light, sound and vibration are being used by A-Champs to make training more effective and fun for amateurs and pro athletes alike. CEO Kilian Saekel speaks to FitTech about the power of multisensory stimulation

Kilian Saekel is the co-founder and CEO of A-Champs A-Champs
According to Saekel, top sports coaches report that ROX Pro makes athletes work harder and longer A-Champs
ROX is fully customisable and can be adapted for any age or ability A-Champs
Users can track their progress and compete virtually using the ROX app A-Champs
A-Champs uses play and competition as key drivers in its products A-Champs
The ROX Home interactive sensors can be used in a variety of settings A-Champs

Tell us about A-Champs – what’s it all about?
At A-Champs we’re concerned that people of all ages don’t move enough to stay happy and healthy. And that’s why we’ve recently developed an interactive home training system that’s more fun and effective than any other way of training. It works body and brain at the same time and turns any training into a playful experience.

It’s a platform that features sports science-based training programmes and games – these are delivered through interactive sensor pods that come with light, sound and vibration. Through the app, the users can select different training content for all members of the family. These include: fitness programmes, active games and sports-specific training that lets you train like a pro athlete. And the cool thing is, you can even compete with others from all over the world via the global leaderboard.

Where did the idea for A-Champs come from?
My whole career I spent developing and manufacturing sporting goods in China. When my wife got breast cancer a few years ago it made us much more aware of how important it is to take care of ourselves and our health. Lifestyle and physical activity play a crucial role in staying healthy and fit. So once we got through with all her chemotherapy and rehab we decided to start a business to help families to stay fit, and that’s how the idea for ROX came up.

What was your first product and how did you develop it?
From the very beginning we have been producing solely ROX. The original idea was to recreate the Super Mario game in real life, where kids run between interactive light blocks to get points.

Overall, kids and parents loved the concept and experience, but we found that it was very difficult to market it as it required lots of customer education.

However, sports coaches immediately saw the value in our product. At that time training based on the reaction to light stimuli started to become a hot topic in pro sports, as sports science realised that this kind of training helped to improve crucial mental capacities – like sensory capacities, reaction, decision making, perception and concentration/alertness – of players.

The problem was that until then all available light training solutions were extremely expensive, not user friendly, and based on an old-school technology.

Based on this feedback, we developed our current product, ROX Pro, to be a smart training assistant for everybody in the game of training people. It’s the only interactive training system on the planet that not only comes with light, but also with sound and vibration – this is ‘multisensory’ stimulation, and it’s much more versatile and effective than pure light-based reaction training.

By now some of the biggest and most famous sport clubs and coaches use ROX Pro to create more effective and engaging one-to-one sessions with their athletes.

Who’s your target audience?
Our core target audience for the last 18 months has been performance coaches, personal trainers, amateur sports trainers, physical therapists and PE teachers.

With our new version – ROX Home – we are now targeting families who want to work out at home but who are bored with traditional ways of home training.

How customisable are your products?
The best thing about ROX is the fact that they are fully customisable. They can be integrated into any kind of training, at any place, and help people of all ages, fitness levels and abilities to get effective and engaging training done.

We have interactive content for fitness (HIIT, Family Fitness), active games and sports specific training so that you can train like a professional athlete in many different sports categories. All our programmes are developed by coaches and sports scientists who have worked with and for some of the biggest global athletes and teams.

Every interaction with the ROX is measured, so our users can also track all their sessions, either via the in-app analytics or via the cloud-based dashboard.

Have you done any scientific research into the impact your products have?
Our proprietary MSNP training methodology was developed by a team of sports scientists and coaches around our unique multisensory stimulation function.

Currently we’re working with Victoria University in Australia on a big research project to showcase the performance improvements in athletes and daily life.

How does gamifying fitness create better results?
It’s a key piece! But according to our experience, gamification will only have lasting effects if it is more than just earning badges in ‘boring’ training sessions. In our case we have two levels of gamification: first, we create training experiences that are fun and playful. By putting focus on tapping different lights and sounds while doing gruelling planks, for example, you stop focusing on the pain and you’ll be surprised how quickly 45 seconds can be over.

And then the more traditional gamification kicks in: in the app all results can be monitored and you can even compete virtually with people from all over the world. The competitive beast pushes the bar and makes sure that you don’t miss the next session.

What’s really cool is that this doesn’t only work for regular people in their home training. Even coaches of world-leading athletes report to us that integrating the ROX into their training helps to make athletes work harder and longer because they either want to beat their high scores or those of their teammates.

Do you have any plans for future products?
At the moment our focus is on the launch of our ROX at-home edition. On top of that we will soon launch the Cardio Cage – the ultimate 360-degree interactive training experience. It features our ROX Pro technology in a ‘Thunderdome style’ cage and delivers game-changing sports- and position-specific training as well as fully functional HIIT workouts for individual and partner training. Sports performance academies, as well as gyms around the world, are lining up to get a piece of the action!

We’re also currently taking part in the Techstars SportsTech Melbourne accelerator programme to bring the ROX training experience to Australia.


Originally published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 2

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