Fitness classes are not for everyone. They don’t fit into our schedule, they are pricey and often times unnecessary. But without a physical trainer how can we ensure that we stay motivated and reach our goals? Introducing Aaptiv, the first audio-based fitness classes led by experts delivering motivational and instructive content giving you what you need to maximize your workout. The app has thousands of classes available in 22 categories, integrated with music to give you the inspiration you need to maximize your workout. With nearly 200K paying customers, Aaptiv is using audio and not video to disrupt the world of fitness.
AlleyWatch chatted with founder and CEO Ethan Agarwal about the startup, its genesis, its future, and how the company has multiplied its team size 6X in the course of a year.
Tell us about the product or service.
Aaptiv creates audio-based fitness classes led by expert trainers. Aaptiv classes pair guidance from trainers with amazing playlists for an inspiring, effective, and fun fitness experience. Aaptiv features workouts and programs for cardio, strength, meditation and more.
Aaptiv is the first and only digital fitness company in the world to provide audio-based classes exclusively. Despite the abundance of video-based solutions, audio is the best way to train for a variety of different workouts, including running, spin, and strength training. For example, a runner can’t run down the street while staring at a workout video on their phone.
Prior to Aaptiv, access to high-quality training was expensive and logistically complicated. Studio classes or personal trainers charged $40-$150 per workout. Classes had to be booked in advance, the convenient classes often sold out, and people were penalized for not showing up. By making people pay each time they workout, trainers and studios were disincentivizing people from working out.
Aaptiv instead charges one fixed price, $100/year, for unlimited on-demand access to thousands of classes led by world class trainers. Aaptiv has classes across 22 categories, including running, elliptical, strength training, 5K training, meditation, and a full 10-month maternity program. Similar to Netflix or Spotify, Aaptiv classes can be taken wherever, whenever, and in unlimited quantities. That’s why our members spend on average 32 minutes a day, 7 days a month using Aaptiv. Every Monday, 40 new classes are released, so the Aaptiv membership becomes more valuable every day.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Today, we serve nearly 200,000 paying members. They’re all over the map both literally and metaphorically, but the commonality among them is that they lead unpredictable lives. It’s difficult for most of us to attend a class in person that meets at the same time every week. Also, classes can be cost-prohibitive for many people. We are giving access to high-quality fitness classes to everyone.
Running makes up the world’s most popular fitness category, with over 40 million people in the United States alone running at least once per week. Our classes help people keep the regimen they already do but to get both more direction and more joy out of their exercising. No matter what type of training you’re looking for — from beginner to intermediate to advanced — we offer classes that will help you reach new heights in your fitness journey.
What is the business model?
With over 2,500 classes, and up to 40 added every week, Aaptiv classes guide members through popular workouts without breaking the bank. Aaptiv’s all-you-can-eat model provides accessibility that has never existed in fitness before, for only $100/year.
What inspired the business?
I was working as a McKinsey consultant and found myself constantly on the road. It was challenging to stay in shape and to keep a healthy lifestyle. None of the fitness solutions I saw met all of my needs. I was looking for high-quality training that would fit my schedule and would help me with the workouts I always already doing. As a runner, I needed a trainer I could take with me whenever, wherever. Of course, the solution had to be digital, but all the digital fitness products at the time used video, which didn’t work for me or the other 40 million people who run once a week. I realized audio was the best delivery mechanism for cardio content. That didn’t exist yet, so I built it.
Why is audio best suited for fitness over in person or video?
Video can be inconvenient for the most popular fitness categories and isn’t a true mobile solution. People stare at screens much of the day, but when you’re exercising, it doesn’t make sense to. You can’t focus and you also risk injury.
Audio, on the other hand, has emerged more and more as the preferred method for education, information, and communication. Just look at the popularity of podcasts, eBooks and products like Alexa, Google Now, and Siri. Aaptiv is following this overall audio trend but introducing it for the first time to the fitness world.
Many of our members have commented how over time they’ve found one personal trainer at Aaptiv who appeals to them and understands what they’re looking to get out of a workout. I’m happy how many members are finding such a personal connection with a trainer on our platform.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Today, we’re reaching nearly 200,000 individuals and giving them more access to phenomenal workout experiences. We’re exploring now what that looks like on the enterprise level. Our sales and business development teams are hard at work to showcase Aaptiv as a mainstay in familiar places and spaces. You’ll start to see Aaptiv emerge as a perk that can reach hundreds or thousands of people at once.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Our company is growing so quickly it’s hard to keep up. We went from five employees to 65 employees in the span of a year. These are good issues to have, propelled by growth, but hiring takes time. You have to choose the right people to lead and to work on the product. As you build a company, the demands don’t slow down, in fact they accelerate. Growing rapidly while staying true to who we are — starting with who we hire — requires a tough balance.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Michael Bloomberg. He’s a technologist, content creator, successful financier, and public service advocate. He also attended the same college I did: Johns Hopkins University.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York City is my home. There’s so much opportunity here. We’ve been privileged to secure local funding for the company and also to bring on advisors from the local NYC tech world. We’re actively recruiting from some of the top schools and most well-known tech companies in the City. We make connections every day to the next generation of talent this wonderful city has to offer.
Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?
You can find me running the West Side Highway every day of the week. There’s nowhere better to get exercise and to also appreciate the beauty this city has to offer.