This startup thinks people will work out more if they can do it with their friends online
When Daniel Freedman was selling cyber security software, he had to convince people to buy a solution to a looming problem they couldn't foresee.
Years later, Freedman is now tackling a problem that not only most people have, but one that's also top of mind to fix right away: going to the gym.
Unlike scaring people into cybersecurity, Freedman realized that most people have a common problem of wanting to be more in shape, but there's never a one-fits-all solution.
Yet, Freedman isn't looking to totally replace a workout routine. Instead, his new startup BurnAlong, which he co-founded with PayPal veteran Mike Kott, is meant to plug the gaps on those days when you're too busy to make it to the gym with friends.
"Our message is not 'Forget your local gym, you can do everything at home.' We believe the two go hand-in-hand," Freedman told Business Insider.
BurnAlong works by having a local fitness instructor either record a class or host one live on the site. Then, you log in with your friends to watch it at the same time. You can see up to five people, instructor included, on the screen or you can just take classes by yourself. All of the videos are designed to be done with minimal workout equipment at home — a barre class, for example, can teach you how to use a chair instead.
"It's the same as when you're with friends in a class. You can look at them. you can joke with them. You can push each other. You can have a laugh together," Freedman said.
Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr
Freedman is hoping to find a hit with people who normally do online workout videos but also with those gym-goers who rely on their friends to keep it fun and hold them accountable.
Beyond helping friends hold each other accountable, Freedman hopes BurnAlong will make people more eager to try their local gyms around them too.
"I think a lot of people don't go to the gym because they think 'I'm not going to get it,'" Freedman said. "With this, you get to familiarize yourself with a local gym and a local person. It's like you learn the dance moves. It doesn't matter whether you're wearing mascara or how high you're lifting your leg. It's like let's do this. And let's do it together."
BurnAlong was born out of Freedman's transition from living in Manhattan and always playing soccer with friends to starting a family in Baltimore and watching his windows of free time shrink. He wanted to work out with friends, but the schedule of classes no longer fit his schedule of life.
BurnAlong is meant to fill the edges, when you might have a few minutes free after bed time or before the kids wake up to be able to squeeze in a work out with friends, Freedman says. And instead of popping in a workout DVD by yourself, BurnAlong is designed to make it feel natural to be working out with friends, either in person or online.
Thousands have already tried it through its beta program, and it's rolling out to the general public in September. Membership starts at around $10 a month and that includes all of the classes.
"When you look at a lot of things in the fitness industry, you see people who look like super models and guys who have six packs and look like they're off the cover of GQ magazine," Freedman said. "People want something that's more authentic. With our experience, it's not a Hollywood production. If someone slips, it's fine. It's a place where anyone is comfortable no matter how you look."
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