Innovation
Bold move

With most digital fitness aimed at younger audiences, Amanda Rees saw a gap in the market for Bold – digital strength and balance training to decrease the risk of falls in older people


What’s your background?
I studied chemical and biological engineering, and I started my career working in energy and transportation, working with community leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers to develop more renewable and resilient energy systems.

I’m also a trained dancer and yoga instructor, and movement and exercise have always been an important part of my life. Before starting Bold, I was teaching group spin classes at a local studio and weekend chair yoga classes at senior living communities.

How did you come up with the idea for Bold?
I lived with and cared for my grandmother for eight years and during this time she began struggling with her balance and had some scary falls while I was at work. When I started to research ‘how to prevent falls’, I found an incredible amount of research showing how balance and strength training can prevent most falls.

Hari Arul, my partner and Bold’s co-founder, had been living with us, and was helping support my grandmother’s health as well. Together, we looked for ways to get her an online programme, and then realised there really weren’t any options because nobody was building digital health and wellness programmes focused on older adults.

We realised there were millions of people looking for ways to stay healthy as they age, but putting together a personalised exercise and wellness plan could be overwhelming, time consuming or expensive.

Together, we got excited about the huge opportunity to build modern products that could make it easier for people to improve their health as they age, and we decided to start Bold as a company dedicated to that mission. Balance and strength training for fall prevention was a great place to start!

How did you turn this idea into reality?
We raised a small amount of money to develop the programme content and we hired a team to build out the software platform. We launched Bold at the start of 2020, which was crazy timing since gyms and senior centres shut down a few months later because of COVID-19. Most people were desperately seeking ways to stay active at home during the pandemic as a way to protect their mental and physical health.

We ended up raising US$7m in venture capital from some incredible investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital.

How did you design and develop the programme?
Bold’s Balance and Strength for Fall Prevention programme was based on evidence-based programmes that had a variety of focus areas, such as lower body strength, balance training, and tai chi movements.

In creating Bold’s programme, we combined the most potent elements from these interventions, and worked with kinesiologists to design our own 12 week programme.

Then we developed a way to match a person with the most appropriate programme based on their current preferences and abilities. For example, if someone is interested in short exercise sessions and prefers to be seated, they receive a whole different class series from someone who’s comfortable standing and moving for longer periods of time.

All Bold’s classes were designed to be easy to follow and accessible at home, and each is guided by expert instructors who have extensive experience working with older adults.

We spent a year testing and measuring the impact of Bold’s fall prevention programme through our own research, which we conducted with our medical advisor, Dr Randall Stafford, a professor at Stanford’s School of Medicine and the director of the Programme on Prevention Outcomes and Practices.

What does the programme include?
Bold’s Balance and Strength programme combines on-demand exercise classes guided by fitness experts with educational content and personalised motivation and support from Bold’s team via phone, text and email.

The Bold journey begins with a short assessment that evaluates current exercise habits and fall risk factors. Based on the results, people will receive a personalised programme of weekly exercise classes and educational content designed to improve their strength and balance. Bold’s team also connects with members to provide accountability and inspiration.

The balance and strength programming combines functional lower body strength exercises with a variety of tai chi inspired movements and basic stretches.

As Bold has grown, we’ve added programmes beyond our focus on fall prevention, and now members can access guided cardio, upper body strength, pilates, yoga and meditation classes.

How do you incorporate research and evidence based practice?
Our entire programme development process begins with reviewing existing research and science to ensure we’re providing Bold members with evidence-based exercises to help them achieve their healthy aging goals, such as improving their balance. Bold also uses data science and research to help personalise members’ programmes and adapt to their progress and needs over time.

How often is new content added?
We release new classes and programmes every month. Our most recent series of classes focuses on addressing pain and function for knee osteoarthritis.

How broad is the offering?
Bold has classes for people of any fitness level – we have short, seated exercise classes that don’t require any props and we also offer higher intensity cardio and strength classes similar to those you’d find at your local studio.

Bold specialises in helping members who don’t currently have a regular habit of exercising by helping them find the right place to get started and incorporate more movement into their lives.

How have you made the platform user-friendly?
Designing digital products that are accessible is super important, not just for a particular age group, but to ensure it’s easy to use for anybody. In addition to thoughtful design and frequent testing with members, we have amazing member experience associates who help address any technical challenges via phone, email and text.

How many users do you have?
We have tens of thousands of members, mostly older adults, in every state across the US and internationally.

How has the pandemic affected your business?
It’s become clear we must build digital products to meet the needs of older adults and that drive growth for Bold – through individual members joining our community and healthcare organisations taking a closer look at how they can better support their members by partnering with companies like ours.

Can you show proven results that your programme prevents falls?
Yes! We did a research study last year with our medical advisor, Dr Randall Stafford, director of prevention and outcomes at Stanford University School of Medicine, to measure how Bold prevents falls amongst older adults who have a higher than average risk of falling. Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme.

What are your goals for Bold?
We’re excited to continue growing our partnerships with innovative insurance plans and healthcare providers so we can increase our impact and help more people age well. We’re working to expand the types of programmes we can bring to our members that go beyond strength and balance and can make it easier to understand and improve how we’re aging.

Amanda Rees co-founded Bold with her partner, Hari Arul Credit: Image: BOLD
The Bold programme combines strength, balance and tai chi exercises Credit: Image: BOLD
The programme provides different classes for different ability levels Credit: Image: BOLD
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Fit Tech
2023 issue 1

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Bold move

Innovation

Bold move


With most digital fitness aimed at younger audiences, Amanda Rees saw a gap in the market for Bold – digital strength and balance training to decrease the risk of falls in older people

Rees saw a gap in the market after researching programmes for her grandmother Image: BOLD
Amanda Rees co-founded Bold with her partner, Hari Arul Image: BOLD
The Bold programme combines strength, balance and tai chi exercises Image: BOLD
The programme provides different classes for different ability levels Image: BOLD

What’s your background?
I studied chemical and biological engineering, and I started my career working in energy and transportation, working with community leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers to develop more renewable and resilient energy systems.

I’m also a trained dancer and yoga instructor, and movement and exercise have always been an important part of my life. Before starting Bold, I was teaching group spin classes at a local studio and weekend chair yoga classes at senior living communities.

How did you come up with the idea for Bold?
I lived with and cared for my grandmother for eight years and during this time she began struggling with her balance and had some scary falls while I was at work. When I started to research ‘how to prevent falls’, I found an incredible amount of research showing how balance and strength training can prevent most falls.

Hari Arul, my partner and Bold’s co-founder, had been living with us, and was helping support my grandmother’s health as well. Together, we looked for ways to get her an online programme, and then realised there really weren’t any options because nobody was building digital health and wellness programmes focused on older adults.

We realised there were millions of people looking for ways to stay healthy as they age, but putting together a personalised exercise and wellness plan could be overwhelming, time consuming or expensive.

Together, we got excited about the huge opportunity to build modern products that could make it easier for people to improve their health as they age, and we decided to start Bold as a company dedicated to that mission. Balance and strength training for fall prevention was a great place to start!

How did you turn this idea into reality?
We raised a small amount of money to develop the programme content and we hired a team to build out the software platform. We launched Bold at the start of 2020, which was crazy timing since gyms and senior centres shut down a few months later because of COVID-19. Most people were desperately seeking ways to stay active at home during the pandemic as a way to protect their mental and physical health.

We ended up raising US$7m in venture capital from some incredible investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital.

How did you design and develop the programme?
Bold’s Balance and Strength for Fall Prevention programme was based on evidence-based programmes that had a variety of focus areas, such as lower body strength, balance training, and tai chi movements.

In creating Bold’s programme, we combined the most potent elements from these interventions, and worked with kinesiologists to design our own 12 week programme.

Then we developed a way to match a person with the most appropriate programme based on their current preferences and abilities. For example, if someone is interested in short exercise sessions and prefers to be seated, they receive a whole different class series from someone who’s comfortable standing and moving for longer periods of time.

All Bold’s classes were designed to be easy to follow and accessible at home, and each is guided by expert instructors who have extensive experience working with older adults.

We spent a year testing and measuring the impact of Bold’s fall prevention programme through our own research, which we conducted with our medical advisor, Dr Randall Stafford, a professor at Stanford’s School of Medicine and the director of the Programme on Prevention Outcomes and Practices.

What does the programme include?
Bold’s Balance and Strength programme combines on-demand exercise classes guided by fitness experts with educational content and personalised motivation and support from Bold’s team via phone, text and email.

The Bold journey begins with a short assessment that evaluates current exercise habits and fall risk factors. Based on the results, people will receive a personalised programme of weekly exercise classes and educational content designed to improve their strength and balance. Bold’s team also connects with members to provide accountability and inspiration.

The balance and strength programming combines functional lower body strength exercises with a variety of tai chi inspired movements and basic stretches.

As Bold has grown, we’ve added programmes beyond our focus on fall prevention, and now members can access guided cardio, upper body strength, pilates, yoga and meditation classes.

How do you incorporate research and evidence based practice?
Our entire programme development process begins with reviewing existing research and science to ensure we’re providing Bold members with evidence-based exercises to help them achieve their healthy aging goals, such as improving their balance. Bold also uses data science and research to help personalise members’ programmes and adapt to their progress and needs over time.

How often is new content added?
We release new classes and programmes every month. Our most recent series of classes focuses on addressing pain and function for knee osteoarthritis.

How broad is the offering?
Bold has classes for people of any fitness level – we have short, seated exercise classes that don’t require any props and we also offer higher intensity cardio and strength classes similar to those you’d find at your local studio.

Bold specialises in helping members who don’t currently have a regular habit of exercising by helping them find the right place to get started and incorporate more movement into their lives.

How have you made the platform user-friendly?
Designing digital products that are accessible is super important, not just for a particular age group, but to ensure it’s easy to use for anybody. In addition to thoughtful design and frequent testing with members, we have amazing member experience associates who help address any technical challenges via phone, email and text.

How many users do you have?
We have tens of thousands of members, mostly older adults, in every state across the US and internationally.

How has the pandemic affected your business?
It’s become clear we must build digital products to meet the needs of older adults and that drive growth for Bold – through individual members joining our community and healthcare organisations taking a closer look at how they can better support their members by partnering with companies like ours.

Can you show proven results that your programme prevents falls?
Yes! We did a research study last year with our medical advisor, Dr Randall Stafford, director of prevention and outcomes at Stanford University School of Medicine, to measure how Bold prevents falls amongst older adults who have a higher than average risk of falling. Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme.

What are your goals for Bold?
We’re excited to continue growing our partnerships with innovative insurance plans and healthcare providers so we can increase our impact and help more people age well. We’re working to expand the types of programmes we can bring to our members that go beyond strength and balance and can make it easier to understand and improve how we’re aging.


Originally published in Fit Tech 2023 issue 1

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