Before COVID-19, online training was niche. The normalization of virtual interactions quickly reached the fitness sector, however, where government lockdowns shuttered gyms early and often throughout the Pandemic.
“There has been a sizable disruption and shift in Canada’s wellness industry,” Curtis Christopherson, the founder of Canadian fitness startup WRKOUT, observed last year.
As CEO of Innovative Fitness, a chain of personal training studios across BC and Toronto, he and his team felt the effects of lockdown immediately.
The only adaption forward was to take a business model based on physical interaction and bring it into the digital realm. It was an all-new experience for both trainers and clients.
“Despite the challenges the industry has faced, Canadians have found new ways to work out,” Christopherson told Techcouver in 2022. “Many Canadians have embraced the transition to online workouts and home gyms.”
Fitness is not going anywhere, gyms open or closed, Canadians have determined. In response to government-mandated gym closures, sales of exercise equipment increased more than 40%.
The online version of Innovative Fitness proved popular enough that Christopherson spun it off into WRKOUT, a Vancouver-born startup that raised $3 million in seed capital last year for its digital-first approach to fitness. The company was named the Top Fitness App this year by the Good Housekeeping 2022 Fitness Awards.
The WRKOUT platform efficiently connects clients to their ideal trainer—who could be anywhere in the world—without either person leaving their house.
“It’s like having an UberEats or Airbnb of personal trainers to choose from, right at your fingertips,” Christopherson offered.
For trainers, there is appeal in having the freedom to train their clients where they want, when they want, and how they want. Features include a stopwatch, countdown and interval timers, live chat, heart rate monitor tracking, client scheduling and direct billing.
According to Christopherson, the next generation of fitness technology is already here. Judging by the evidence, he may be right.
“We’re on a journey to change how Canadians view their health and fitness,” he told Techcouver. “Our mission is to create a global community of fitness creators and help them deliver the best fitness and wellness experiences to Canadians, and beyond.”
The latest offering in this vein is WRKOUT Store, which enables trainers to use influence as a fitness professional by providing an ability to recommend products to clients and earn commission from each sale. The BC-born company released the digital commerce platform this month.
There is no limit to how many products you can recommend, nor a limit on revenues earned from commissions, which range from 10% to 18%, according to the company.
“We carry all inventory so you don’t have to,” WRKOUT states. “We handle all shipping and fulfillment …We deal with returns and questions.”
The startup carries “a wide selection of products spanning from fitness equipment, vitamins, supplements, accessories, apparel, and more.”
Store by WRKOUT is “the easiest way to earn passive income from product sales, without having any commitments,” according to the company.