This NYC Startup Is Redefining Fitness in the City



One of your resolutions this year was to get into shape and, this time, you really meant it.


But you know that you’re not going to get to the gym all the time; that having a personal trainer is helpful, but expensive, and you don’t always want to do the same old thing all the time.

Fitnescity is simplicity for people who want to work out, but where and when and with whom they want to do it. Fitnescity’s plan is the change the way people work out by offering a monthly pass that they can use to do a variety of workouts, and with a variety of personal trainers, in the location of their choice: home, office fitness center, the park.

Cofounder and CEO Laila Zemrani tells us how the company is changing workouts.

Tell us about the service.

Fitnescity is a marketplace that connects customers with carefully vetted personal trainers, enabling people to work out better, and opening up more opportunities for trainers.

We offer a monthly pass that can be used to take any private class, whether it is to achieve specific fitness goals, to pick up yoga or boxing, or to make Ballroom dance a new hobby.

How is it different?

Fitnescity is solving a basic supply and demand problem in the personal training market: The price point is way too high for customers to use training on a regular basis.

Most importantly, the price point is high for the wrong reasons:

1) Gyms, who operate under high fixed costs, take a significant cut (about 70%) when a client works with a personal trainer.

2) Independent trainers need to cover prohibitive customer acquisition costs when they are on their own.

Fitnescity eliminates two hurdles for trainers: low commissions from gyms, and high client acquisition costs. As a result, Fitnescity can afford to bring down the price, while still maintaining quality. In return, this fuels demand for more Fitnescity passes, allowing trainers to receive more bookings, and achieve a higher income at the end.

Fitnescity_Headshot_Laila Zemrani_

Laila Zemrani

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

Fitnescity is going after the $75 billion global health club market. The customer base is composed of users who are frustrated with one-year memberships that don’t necessarily deliver results. They’re users who want high-quality, effective and safe workouts – at a reasonable price.

What is the business model?

Fitnescity sells a monthly pass that allows customers to work out with some of the best trainers in the city, anytime, anywhere. No monthly commitment is expected, since the pass can be paused or canceled anytime. On the other side, trainers are paid a fixed rate anytime a customer uses their services.

Why did you embark upon this venture?

Our team is passionate about health and fitness, and we wanted to find a way to help people work out more, and better. We thought about what makes people get a gym membership and not use it in the end. For most people, it’s the lack of motivation and guidance. It’s the fact that they might not see results, and might get discouraged. Personal training brings more discipline and effectiveness to the experience. It also creates an accountability relationship with your trainer.

While this was our thinking, the initial trigger was our personal story on the trainer side. I also teach private dance classes, and realized that it doesn’t make sense for an instructor to be a ‘part-time marketing professional’ as well. That there must be a better way to connect supply and demand.

What do you say to critics who say this is yet another booking engine?

We don’t see booking as one of the main features of our service. Far beyond that, Fitnescity is changing the economics behind personal training by eliminating the inefficiencies that cause it be too expensive. We’re convinced that there’s an enormous potential for personal training and private instruction services to become much more mainstream than they curently are.

From your data, what types of classes are the most popular in NYC?

Personal Training (or fitness) is the most popular. There’s also a lot of demand for Yoga, including in-home sessions for busy professionals or moms. Dance has been strong since the beginning, mostly because of our background, but we see a lot of traction now in Ballroom dance (weddings!), and a variety of other styles.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?

The platform has been generating revenue since day 1, but it is currently open ‘by request only’ to a number of Fitnescity ambassadors, who can sign up to become early users. The official launch is scheduled for later this spring. Our priority for the following months is to further expand our trainer base, while maintaining high standards of quality.

If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?

It would be Esther Dyson. We’re intrigued by her dedication to improve health, and her approach to promoting healthy living. We also share her perspective on the importance of focusing on real-world problems that change people’s lives, rather than ‘cool’ but less impactful ideas.

Why did you launch in New York?

We actually moved from California to New York before starting the venture. New York has a high concentration of health-conscious individuals seeking to maintain an active lifestyle. We believe that New York is the best city in the world to launch a start-up like Fitnescity.

What’s your favorite NYC happy hour spot in NYC?

It would probably be Nobu. We love Japanese cuisine!

Fitnescity_Screen Shot_1

About the author: AlleyWatch

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