Erica Virtue Co-Founder, Vitogo
It’s no secret that strength training is a crucial component of a fit and healthy lifestyle. Whether your goal is to build muscle, lose weight, firm and tone, or just get healthy, strength training (along with proper nutrition and cardiovascular exercise) will help you achieve your fitness goal.
The problem is that strength training can be confusing and intimidating. Any time you walk into a gym, you can see numerous “lost” members who fall into three categories. First, there are the “cardio bunnies”, who will jump on the elliptical or the stairmaster and not leave until their workout is done (or an episode of the Biggest Loser is over). They might try to do a few sets on a machine or two, but wouldn’t dream of going near the free weights!
Next, there are the “wanderers”. Wanderers roam about the gym, observing what other people seem to be doing, and piecing together a routine. Wanderers are usually too intimidated to ask for help, and tend to go to the gym intermittently, never achieving any real results.
Finally, there are the “researchers,” who will buy books, magazines, and videos, and search the internet for exercises and strength training programs. The problem that researchers face is that the programs that they find in books and on websites aren’t tailored to their personal fitness data and goals. It’s easy to find a “15-day Ab Buster” strength training program online, but what do you do once those 15 days are over?
From frustration to startup
Like most people, we at Vitogo were frustrated at how difficult it was to find strength training programs without signing up for expensive personal training sessions, or doing an incredible amount of research. We were especially frustrated with how much difficulty our friends and family members were having achieving their fitness goals and wanted to create a way to guide people through the maze that is personal fitness.
Having an idea is one thing, actually building something is another. Being based in Boston has been helpful for us: there are organizations like Dart Boston that throw big networking parties that have really helped us meet the right people, and get some great advice.
What is Vitogo?
Vitigo is “your strength training architect”, it is an iPhone app and website that takes users’ personal fitness data and goals and builds them a personalized strength training program. Users can take their iPhone to the gym with them and Vitogo will walk them through their strength training program, showing them how to do their exercises through videos and descriptions, counting them down through each exercise, and sending all the data back to the Vitogo website.
On the website, users will be able to see detailed graphs and analytics for their own strength training activity and share this information with their friends. Game mechanics, like badges and a leaderboard, are built into Vitogo to help keep users motivated. After 5-6 weeks of completing their exercise program with Vitogo, users will automatically progress to a new program.
How are we Different?
Vitogo is different from other strength training and fitness apps out there because:
- Vitogo actually builds personalized programs from a large database of exercises based on the data and goals that users enter into the app on sign-up. Most other strangth training apps only provide a list of exercises for users to choose from which is no different that bringing an A - Z text book of strength training exercises with you to the gym.
- Vitigo incorporates game mechanics and the support of friends to keep users motivated.
- Vitogo gives users detailed graphs and analytics of each exercise they complete, tracks their progress and shows how close they are to achieving their goals.
- Vitigo helps users progress by giving them an updated program every 5-6 weeks. This is critical to ensure that users don't plateau or get bored with their current program. As far as we know, there is no other app that provides this service.
What about the Health Graph?
We hate having to enter information more than once, so we are integrating with RunKeeper’s Health Graph so that when you workout with Vitogo, everything about your workout gets pushed to RunKeeper, and when you exercise with RunKeeper, your Vitogo gets updated. This is great, because we hate not getting credit for strength training on our RunKeeper profiles. We especially hate getting those RunKeeper emails asking if we are taking a break from working out, when we have been in the gym every day, but not out running. More integration is better.
Friends, Support and Games
We believe that a support network is critical to helping you achieve anything in life, especially fitness goals. Having someone encourage you to go to the gym, or for a run when you really don’t want to at the end of the day, not bringing junk food into the house, or just having someone help you push out an extra repetition a the gym makes a huge difference in your fitness and health.
A positive and encouraging environment at every stage of your fitness is going to ensure your success. That is why Vitogo is built from the ground up with full social integration, and rewards. Social integration keeps you honest and connected to your friends who are also keeping fit and awards give you something for keeping at it and hitting a personal best. Any encouragement we can give you we will.
So when is this going to happen?
We found some great developers and designers and are building the first version of our product right now. These are exciting times, and things are going really well. We are expecting to launch this Fall and will continue to iterate and expand on our product from there. We’ve been asked why we are focusing on iOS to start, and the simple reason is money. As a bootstrapped startup, all revenue helps and right now iOS is better at selling apps than Android. We also have iPhones and want to use Vitogo when it’s ready. We will expand into Android and other platforms when we are ready.
The Vitogo team is Arel English and Erica Virtue. Arel and Erica both have degrees from the University of Victoria in Canada. Arel spent years coaching sailing and rowed crew in high school and university. Arel also worked for the Canadian Olympic Women’s Rowing Team. Erica has a Juris Doctor from Northeastern University, spent years as a competitive cyclist, and learned a lot about the fitness industry from working at a high end cycling shop.