A Cheektowaga gym owner and partner who two years ago created an online fitness training website recently added an app to their repertoire.
Brandon Monin, owner of One Up Sports and Wellness in the Holiday Twin Rinks on Broadway, and Ryan Malinowski launched their Prolific Fitness app in April. They honed it during late spring and early summer for clients mostly across the U.S. and Canada.
The app is available on Google Play for Android phones and the Apple Store for iPhones. Download directions, if needed, are available at prolificfitness.com.
Malinowski, 28, CEO of Prolific Fitness, is also a professional hockey goalie who has played in Poland and Denmark in recent seasons. A few people in those countries also are using the app too, he said during a recent interview.
He expects to return to Europe soon for another season.
Q. Why such interest in online personal training?
We're trying to lower the barrier of entry so that everyone has the accessibility to work out with a personal trainer. We're making it more affordable for more people in a tech 2017 environment. Instead of everyone having to come in and pay $50 or $60 an hour, they're paying $39 a month and have the same experience. They're able to have a custom plan set within the app, so each day they log in, they can click on an exercise, see how it's done. They can message us 24-7.
Q. How does the app work?
It's really easy to download the app. Someone goes on their phone and searches the app by typing in "Prolific Fitness." Then, they fill out a basic questionnaire – are you looking to lose weight, build muscle, what's your exercise environment? If they want to work out at home, great. If they want to work out in a gym setting, great. We build a program based on that. We run everything through a basic fitness assessment and then the payment runs month to month. They enter their credit card info. If at any time they want to stop, they hit the "Stop billing" tab within the app….
When they log in, they see their workout days at the top. They can drag and drop each workout, in no specific order, to whatever day on a weekly calendar they want to work out. ... When they hit, "Take me to today's workout," it will take them to a screen that displays all of their exercises for that day. Say one of the exercises is a plank hold and they don't know how to do a plank hold. They can press the exercise and it shows them a simple how-to video for that. We also have a video capture feature. They can hit that, set their phone down and record themselves doing the exercise and afterward, can press "Send to trainer." We can then analyze what they're doing.
Q. People can communicate with you through the app?
Yes. It's kind of like direct messaging within the app. If someone hits the tab on the lower part of the app, it works like text messaging in real time.
Q. How has it generally worked so far?
Some people log in three or four times a week, others five. It's often when they're having their workouts. We notice that some people like using the messaging while they're going at a workout whereas others will ask for a general update. If we don't hear from them, we'll check in about once a week to see how their workouts are going. We also have a Notes tab that people can use. If someone tells us, "That workout was too easy," we see it right away in the notes and we're able to adjust repetitions, or make it easier if it's too hard. We learned early on this was important with the app.
Q. With 24-7 access, who's helping you with the online clients?
Most of our clients are in North America and our assumption is that within the midnight and 6 a.m. window, not as many people are going to be messaging us on it. If they message us then, instead of responding within 2 to 5 minutes, it may be a little more spread out.
Q. Brandon was a collegiate wrestler who holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and master's degree in physiology. You played junior and collegiate hockey and have more than a decade of personal training experience. What will happen if you need to add more staff?
Everyone we'll bring on board as trainers as the app grows will have a higher education degree related to fitness. We feel that's really important because when you're working with someone from afar, you've got to realize two different people are not in the same boat, even those who are the same age or gender. We always take into account different fitness goals and health issues.
Q. What kinds of clients are you so far attracting?
We have two subsets: middle-aged men and women, pretty even across the board, who maybe have a gym membership or maybe they like working out at home. We also have some athletes who signed up who are in college and maybe can't afford an expensive personal trainer.
Q. Are you looking beyond the fitness end?
We want to start with the fitness aspect but obviously fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand. You can exercise all you want, but if you're eating Cheetos and bonbons every day, you're not going to meet your goals. If people tell us they want to lose weight while they're at exercise, since we have a lot of nutrition clients as well, we have them give us a three-day food log and we'll give them some strong recommendations based on what we're seeing there. … We've helped about 60 percent of our clients with general nutrition because we work with a licensed nutritionist.
Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon