June 8, 2021

How our first gym proposition fell through.

We started our company GymStory because we wanted to use our own product. We use activity tracker apps for almost anything, like walking, running, cycling, skiing and sleeping; and we know how much fun it is and how much more fun those activities become.


So, after years of going to the gym, we wanted an activity tracker app for fitness as well. Nobody was doing it, so why not make it ourselves. First stop: market research. After dozens of interviews with gym owners and gym managers, very soon we figured out that the best way to succeed was to partner with gyms. That way our connected fitness product could be installed on equipment and members could use it as a part of their gym membership. The reason for this was that it was the only way to make sure that ALL metrics of my workout could be tracked by my phone/app. These metrics are the exercise I am doing (1), the weight of my exercise (2), the reps (3) and sets(4). We did not want to make any concessions to these metrics, because we figured that otherwise the product was not good enough for people to adopt it on a large scale.

If we wanted to get gyms on board, we had to figure out how we could make our GymStory product appealing to the owners. We thought that only a fitness activity tracker would not cut it. Very soon we figured out that a permanent installation of our product on fitness equipment would create new benefits: for one, that the usage of equipment was tracked continuously. This meant that gyms will be able to monitor what equipment is used often and which equipment is under-used. From this data gyms could optimize their Return on Investment on fitness equipment, meaning that they can swap under-used equipment. This also works out for gym members, because they will never have to wait in line to use equipment. Additionally, equipment maintenance would shift from periodically to when it’s actually needed, which saves costs.


So, what do you think, were gym managers and owners excited about our proposition? Nope, not even a bit. They couldn’t bother less.This proposition was a cost saver and not generating new revenue. That’s what they really wanted.


Of course, there were some exceptions. Bigger fitness chain managers and “new-age” fitness formula owners were interested, but in general optimization was not a priority of gyms. This was extremely valuable information for use and a good starting point to work from.