Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
Hi readers! I’m a 26-year-old technology entrepreneur originally from Newcastle, UK – now based in London, UK. Health & fitness has been a large part of my life ever since the teens but I’ve never been involved in the industry professionally (until now). My background is in technology startups having founded my first company at the age of 23. As a software engineer I had a lot to learn about running a commercial business but with hard work and some good fortune myself and my co-founder managed to sell that company back in 2014. Since then I’ve worked on a number of projects with varying degrees of success but Flex was an opportunity to match passion with expertise.
What is Flex? How long have you been in business for?
Flex is an online platform that allows people to participate in live video fitness classes with their friends and favourite instructors from the comfort of their home. Using a combination of live video and social features, Flex aims to revolutionise the home workout experience by making it more social and immersive – making it more enjoyable and easier to stick to health & fitness goals as a result.
The Flex platform has been live 12 weeks now and delivered over 100 live health & fitness sessions in that time.
What made you want to join the live streaming space?
Live-streaming is an area of technology just coming of age. 5 years ago the costs of delivering a service like this were so considerable that it you’d need some serious venture capital backing (read Twitch) but now that’s not the case. As a result we’ve seen an explosion of consumer-focused live-streaming apps like Periscope (sold to Twitter), Meerkat and Facebook Live video.
It feels like we’re on the crest of a wave of a new era of immersive video content on the web and Flex wants to be a market-leader in this trend.
The trend is that the most successful startups are those where the founder is a target user of the platform they’re building. The founder identifies with the subject-matter and cares about it deeply, falling into the category of people helped by the existence of the product. This is true of Flex. I’ve worked out at home to the DVDs and YouTube videos and invariably lose focus because it’s such a solitary activity – there’s no support network, no gym partner to push you for that class you both signed up for, no accountability to anyone but yourself, no sense of community. This is something I feel strongly about changing.
What would you most like to accomplish with Flex?
If I were to jump ahead 5 years in the future and take a peek at Flex I’d like to see the number 1 location online for live health & fitness content. I’d like to see trainers around the world using our technology to deliver sessions to thousands of people tuning in at once to everything from high-intensity interval training to yoga. I’d like to see Flex become to the goto social platform that young trainers use to help establish their online presence and develop their career. I’d like it to be the place that new health & fitness personalities are discovered.
Any advice for people looking to start their own company?
Take up an obsession with learning. If there’s any one core principal that the modern startup culture and frameworks has taught us its that learnings are a startup’s most valuable commodity. If you have access to someone that’s achieved what you aspire to, latch onto them and absorb everything you possibly can. Short of that, read books. When Elon Musk and Bill Gates were asked which superpowers they’d like to have they both mentioned speed reading. Books are a fantastic way to absorb the knowledge from individuals you don’t have access to personally.
Here’s a shot of my bookcase as a place to start…
What effect is the Internet having on the fitness industry?
In the broadest context it’s having the same impact it’s having to every industry – information distribution. Fitness professionals were very restricted in their audience reach when television was king and a very small handful ruled the airwaves through VHS, DVD and television shows. Now with technologies like YouTube anyone can put together a program and reach a global audience. This is great for innovation.
We see the long tail effect take hold and increasingly niche programs crop up with extremely engaged niche audiences that identify with those particular exercises and trainers. Hopefully Flex can be a part of this shift.
What makes Flex ideal for trainers?
Flex will never, and doesn’t attempt to, replace in-person fitness sessions. Having said that, there reaches a point in a trainer’s career whereby their schedule is saturated and venue capacity constraints prevent adding more people to existing sessions. Invariably the way to build a career at scale in the digital age is the leverage the internet. Flex can give trainers that voice. Flex is a tool that can help trainers touch the lives of more people in a shorter period of time and earn revenue in the process.
How can someone become an instructor with you?
Simply head on over to Flex for Trainers and sign up!
Who are the classes aimed at?
I think one of the fantastic things about health & fitness is that it transcends age, race, gender, language… everything. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something almost everyone can identify with and, in that sense, Flex is for everybody that needs it.
Currently the audience that Flex is most resonating with fall into any of four main areas…
- Convenience – everything from extremely busy professionals to new parents that can’t get a babysitter just to head to a 30min gym class
- Cost-Conscious – traditional gym memberships and classes that offer that sense of community are little too expensive
- Self-Conscious -anything from individuals unconfident about their body or level or ability
What apps do you use most in your daily life?
For someone in the world of technology I’m not a very app-heavy user. I suppose it’s because I spend a lot of time in front of a computer and use most of my software there. Facebook Messenger helps me keep up to date with all the latest group chat cat GIFs. …and of course the fantastic UB Fitness app 😉
What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time? Pffft. I’m partial to a good booze up – I am from the North East.
If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
This birdie needs to fly.
Thanks to Elliott for doing this interview, be sure to follow Flex below:
UB Fitness has had the pleasure of interviewing other industry professionals too.
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