Responding to the somewhat impersonal 24 hour gyms opening up on every second street, the last couple of years has seen a rising tide of fitness startups offering a two-sided marketplace to connect fitness professional to consumer.
Among these are apps such as HealthCoach, which connects users to health professionals, such as personal trainers, for online consultations. Queensland-based MyGym, meanwhile, helps people sign up and manage their gym memberships online, while Brisbane app Pummel directly connects a user to trainers and fitness experts for an exercise session.
Looking to get ahead of the competition by offering a three-sided marketplace is Melbourne-based fitness startup AirActive, which is rewarding users with Velocity Frequent Flyer points with each booking made.
Through a partnership with Bupa, users attached to the health fund are also able to claim on their bookings made through the app. Additionally, the platform looks to trim fitness cost and fill classes by offering on and off-peak bookings.
AirActive’s fitness offerings are focused on “activities”, such as group fitness classes, team sport activities or just about any type of “fitness wellness” out there. Not all these activities are group based, however, as the platform features personal training sessions too.
While a number of these activities are connected to the recognisable big gym or fitness chains, the startup is placing a strong focus on featuring smaller providers too. The startup’s cofounder, Emmanuel Goutallier, said the business plans to extend the platform’s offering to providers as niche as rock climbing.
“Our goal is to unlock all the providers we have in the active lifestyle space and make it easy for users to find these providers and book them in real time. One of the shortfalls we found was that to find those activity providers on the web, the experience was cut short,” he said.
Banding together with four other cofounders, the group had looked at the fitness market and seen a “misallocation” in the capacity of people in fitness activities, in that the numbers were unevenly dispersed between overpacked classes in at a local gym in the afternoon, and a class commencing at midday; for example.
According to Goutallier, the fitness industry is continuing to grow, although misallocation remains a problem for a number of fitness providers.
To remedy this problem, the startup built AirActive’s booking platform and pricing model for providers around on-peak and off-peak times. Goutallier explained that this would encourage people to help book the more affordable, off-peak option and help balance out the distribution of members.
“The fact is that your club or activity may not be full every lunchtime, so we want to fill them,” he said.
This model, Goutallier added, would be a strong alternative to a membership subscription, which many gyms and fitness platforms offer to try and push people to make the most out of their buck and attend a class. On top of that, a number of fitness classes charge an extra fee for attendance.
“When you’re selling memberships, you have a fixed membership price, as well as a variable costs every time a user comes to a club. They rely on people showing up, and it doesn’t help fill classes,” said Goutallier.
To help providers set up their prices using this pricing model, the startup has developed a backend web platform through which providers enter their base pricing, before the algorithm churns out the optimal on and off-peak pricing.
As for AirActive’s hand in revenue, Goutallier said the business takes a flat $3.50 cut from each booking.
“It’s a very new idea of a fixed price cut. If you take a percentage, it can be harmful to a provider. Why would a personal trainer like to have 15 or 20 percent taken away from their $70 fee? You’re not going to fill up classes. We’re trying to be as fair as possible to all parties and cover the variety of all the activities. And that’s what we’re about, promoting variety,” he explained.
On the consumer side, AirActive works by asking a user for their location, the type of activity they’re looking for, and the preferred time of day for a session.
Bookings are paid for through the app, and users are rewarded with Velocity Frequent Flyer points if they’re a member. Goutallier said this partnership, as well as that with Bupa, comes as a way for the startup to navigate the challenges of marketing to a large audience while bootstrapping.
“The next question is, how to we get this side of the market in the eyes of users, and the answer is usually to buy the market and spend money on things like marketing, giving out free vouchers and such. But we’re bootstrapped so that’s not possible,” he explained.
“Our strategy was to partner with B to B to C, so work with large organisations that have members that are interested in the health and wellbeing space. That’s why we partnered with Velocity and Bupa. We have a lot more partnerships coming in, one is the sports industry and one is in the food space.”
Currently, AirActive holds roughly 20,000 activities across 500 different fitness providers. Most providers operate within Australia’s major cities including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, although Goutallier said a number are scattered all over Australia.
AirActive is now looking to continue to build upon its provider base, as it looks towards onboarding kids’ fitness activities onto the platform. The startup has also launched a funding campaign on equity crowdfunding platform Equitise.
“We want to own the active lifestyle space, that’s our objective. To become a one-stop shop, we have to onboard as much variety as possible,” said Goutallier.
Image: Cofounders Jo Russell (right) & Emmanuel Goutallier (left). Source: Supplied.