Between long work hours and Netflix rapidly growing its original content library, it’s near impossible to find the time, let alone motivation, to hit the gym.
To help kick people into shape and provide motivation are personal trainers, although more often than not these fitness gurus are hidden behind deceptive gym contracts and overpriced class fees.
Pummel is a connection app that looks to go beyond these ploys by allowing users to connect with personal trainers and fitness experts in their local area directly.
Personal trainers are able to sign up and establish their profiles, detailing their area of expertise, such as pilates or running. Users can then discover and connect with a trainer by selecting what fitness areas they want to train in, before being presented with a selection of professionals.
Pummel’s founder, Damien King, who previously founded business-to-business (B2B) startups in the UK, saw an issue with the traditional fitness model adopted by gyms and fitness centres.
“The biggest problem was a lack of motivation to exercise. There’s also a lot of misinformation as a consumer. There seems to be so many conflicting ideas with fitness and how to exercise it gets a little insane,” said King.
This was an issue King himself experienced, who as a parent and full-time worker placed his health in a “secondary position”. The only way he found motivation to exercise was to use a personal trainer.
“There are a lot of pre-recorded workout apps, online guides and videos out there, but they simply don’t work for unmotivated people,” said King.
While it’s common for gyms and fitness centres to offer personal training services, the founder said these places often deter people away due to their pricing and the intimidation factor.
“They try to set you up with a direct debit, and it’s awkward to get out of monthly things, but sometimes you don’t match and so on. Some people just need a trainer to motivate them, so I kind of see Pummel as an accessible motivational platform,” he said.
With the primary audience for the platform being women, particularly mothers, who may not be comfortable with the loud, public atmosphere of gyms, King said Pummel looks to help them gain confidence as many of its personal trainers are from smaller, bespoke studios.
To build up a network of fitness trainers, Pummel took online applications while also forwarding an on-the-ground approach by attending fitness expos and facilitating signups there.
“We got our first hundred on board by the end of last year,” said King.
Currently, trainers can sign up for the platform online or via the app by filling out their employment history and qualifications.
The startup then vets each user to check they have substantial credentials, although this process doesn’t currently involve an background employment history check.
Beside choosing what areas they’d like to train users in, fitness experts also select what demographic they’re most comfortable with, be that a specific gender or age range.
Pummel currently offers fitness experts across boxing, weight training, stretching, and core strength amongst others. There are also nutrition and rehabilitation categories available, although King said the app’s current MVP focuses on targeting core fitness training professionals.
“We do have a diverse range already though, for example we have a few trainers who do yoga and exercise scientists on the platform already,” said King.
Trainers are able to select their location, the range they’re willing to travel and their price – although currently pricing isn’t displayed on the app.
Discussing this, King said that users have requested pricing to be shown on a trainer’s profile, so the startup will look into possibly displaying a rough price range.
The process for a user signing up for the platform involves entering a few basic details about themselves and selecting what exercise goals or areas they’d like to progress.
“They swipe through all the trainers in the area that match their search. They can look at their profiles, then select them by messaging or calling to set up a session, which are either at an agreed location or the trainer’s facility,” said King.
King said that the app currently has no rating or feedback feature to measure each trainer, although it’s a feature the startup will look to implement. Pummel is also looking into adding a feature allowing trainers to build a client’s motivation by posting images of their progress privately on the platform.
“This may be an image of their personal best time, a fitness selfie or training progress,” said King.
The startup also wants to onboard data integration features, using wearables to help track a user’s fitness record. King said the feature diverge from other fitness data apps in the market, like Fitbit, as the trainer would be able to see the data and use it to help motivate their clients.
Since Pummel is currently operating without a revenue stream and bootstrapped, King said the business is looking towards data collection as a source of finance.
“We’re also looking into adding machine learning and other automated features to help simplify and improve how the app works,” King added.
King said expanding the app’s features in response to early feedback will be a key focus for Pummel, so the app can evolve and expand around Australia.