GAIN Fitness unbundles the exercise class with new platform – and new funding

Plenty of new apps promise to put a personal trainer in your pocket, but GAIN Fitness doesn’t just want to offer quality workouts, it plans to provide a whole marketplace of them.
With its new strategy, GAIN won’t focus on promoting its own line of exercise apps but will partner with other fitness experts, training centers and franchises to provide the underlying technology for their content.  For example, it’s created a basketball app with the Peak Performance Project in Santa Barbara, Calif. and a weight-training app with DF Keifer, a nutrition and training expert. Soon, the workouts won’t just be available as in-app purchases, but as stand-alone apps in Apple’s app store.
Since launching in 2011, the company said it’s logged about two million users (on the Web and iOS(s aapl)) and about 600,000 downloads.  From within its iPhone app, yogis, weight-lifters and other exercise enthusiasts have been able to buy (for $1 to $7) workouts that include audio coaching from trainers, animated illustrations and video, personalization options and progress tracking.
But after two years of offering its workouts under one umbrella, founder and CEO Nick Gammell said GAIN Fitness plans to take a platform approach.
“Fitness is an industry of niches,” said Gammell, who formerly worked at Google. And while GAIN’s initial course was to aggregate the different markets, “in the past year, we’ve focused on creating a tech platform and features that can be useful across different types of fitness instruction,” Gammell continued.
In addition to launching the new marketplace on its website, Gammell also said the company had raised $550,000 on top of the $650,000 round it had previously announced, bringing its total amount raised to $1.2 million. Funders include InterWest Partners, former Square COO Keith Rabois and Practice Fusion co-founder Matthew Douglass.
GAIN’s pitch to potential partners is that with its technology, it can provide a higher quality app in less time and with more exposure. Each deal is different, Gammell said, but they all include a revenue share and co-marketing.  So far, it’s attracted five partners but it plans to release a new app every month going forward.  And its pricing strategy could entice partners reluctant to cheapen their products in an App marketplace that favors apps in the $1 to $2 range.
Instead of charging users a subscription fee or a higher flat fee, GAIN lets people pick and choose the kinds of exercises they want, a la carte. For example, aspiring yogis can pay $6.99 for a basic yoga class and then purchase additional $3.99 “packs” on balance, strength or focus areas.  Strength trainers can purchase packs that target their glutes or abs, or push them to a higher level.
For users who want a convenient way to exercise while traveling or coping with a busy schedule, GAIN provides the ability to buy and customize the content most relevant to their level and goals. And for companies and franchises that have made their names with pricey offline classes or cheaper (but still potentially pricey) DVDs, the company’s approach could be a way to reach a greater audience.
GAIN will have to prove to consumers that its paid apps are better than other free and lower-priced options. And it will need to convince more “celebrities,” popular trainers and organizations to join its site. That could be a challenge if companies have deep enough pockets and think their brand is big enough to stand alone. But given the rise of quantified self-type tracking devices, like the Fitbit and Nike Fuelband, it’s clear that consumer interest in fitness-related technology is growing. It seems only natural that they’d have a strong appetite for quality mobile fitness content as well.