March is here, so if you listen real close, you’ll hear the sound of thousands of New Year’s resolutions dying sudden deaths after showing signs of being terminal in February. The most common resolution that’s made each year – and broken, by extension – is to lose weight and/or get fit(ter). If finding a gym in the vicinity or making the time to schlep out to one is what’s been putting a wrench in your fitness goals, there’s a new startup that’s offering an easy workaround.
Flex, a startup that just launched at the end of February, is the self-proclaimed “Twitch for fitness”– it is a live streaming service for various kinds of exercise sessions for people that prefer to get in shape from the comfort of, well, anywhere that has an internet connection. The community-driven platform especially emphasizes its social features, and aims to host the largest network of fitness professionals in the world.
Flex currently uses LiveStream to broadcast workouts that include squats, core blast, yoga, belly dancing, and Zumba among others. This is only a stopgap solution, though – the team is working on building its own infrastructure to live stream sessions and build an environment that’s better suited to their particular brand.
An important element of this infrastructure will be the social and community features; users will be able to invite friends, view social streams, and chat with other users before and after workouts. The application will be gamified through leaderboards and milestones to foster competition and create a habit loop. Apart from the virtual rewards, Flex is also investigating the viability of sending people physical rewards like branded merchandise, supplements, training equipment and more.
Since fitness trackers are becoming more and more common, the startup will make it possible for users to integrate their data with the Flex community and exercise programs to track things like real-time heart-rate, calories burnt, steps made, and squats executed – this gives users the ability to easily quantify their progress. The social and wearable tech integrations also create the feeling of being part of a community, which is always a great way to keep people invested in a cause.
Flex offers something unique for trainers and fitness professionals as well. Apart from being able to easily connect with a fanbase and grow their personal brand, trainers will have the option of conducting paid classes. Users who choose this option will gain access to more high-end trainers and two-way live streaming for a more intimate training experience with individual feedback. Trainers are only required to own basic video cameras and smartphones to stream sessions; the platform will provide the ability to play music directly into the stream.
Flex is the next level in a series of home-fitness content services that first began circulating back in the day on VHS and most recently broke into on-demand video. Be wary as more such services pop up, though – you’re not going to have very many excuses to flake out on your fitness goals for much longer.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.