This is the time of year when people begin to start walking away from their New Year’s resolutions, giving up on the goals they set for themselves and getting back to their previous routines. Research data shows that by now, over 40% of people who decided to live healthier in 2017 have already backed off of their resolution goals.
To help break this cycle, fitness startups around the globe are taking new approaches to helping people maintain throughout the year. Some emphasize moving workouts to the home to make it easier to keep up with fitness routines, while others provide communities, online or in-person to help increase accountability.
Whatever the approach, sustainable practices are at the core of fitness success. I connected with Patrick Reynolds, founder and CEO of Kenzai, an online fitness platform, to find out more about how these trends can help people stay healthy all the way through 2017 and beyond.
Q: How does Kenzai get a such a high graduation rate, overcoming the usual New Years Resolution slump?
Reynolds: Ha! I wish I could tell you there was a silver bullet. Life would be much easier. The truth is that we engage our members at all levels. We get you on the right track with workouts and good nutrition, but we keep you moving by engaging you at an intellectual and emotional level. Intellectually, you’re learning with daily lessons how your mind and body work. Emotionally, you’re connecting with your trainer and teammates throughout the week, forming meaningful connections so that when the tough times come (usually in month two) you don’t feel like you’re alone in your struggles.
When you put the exercise, diet, education, and community together, it adds up to a graduation rate of more than 90%. Throughout the program, you’ll lean on these different aspects more or less heavily, but we’ve learned the hard way that if you take any one of them out the failure rate goes up!
Q: Why have online platforms helped people achieve higher success rates?
Reynolds: This was a surprise to me as well. When I started training people online, I expected to not get the same results I got with the clients I met in person. In fact, my online trainees got better results. I realized the difference was the online clients were getting the right balance of information and motivation from the online components, combined with the self-discipline and personal responsibility that comes from working out alone.
Working online, no one will ever know if you skip a workout or cheat on a meal. Counter-intuitively, this tends to make people take their training more seriously. It brings into sharp relief the fact that you’re doing this work for yourself, and that no one else can do it for you.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of turning Fitness into a platform?
Reynolds: I was living in Japan, and it was natural to keep up with people online. Expats tend to be at the forefront of using technology to communicate and keep up to date with friends and family abroad. When it came time to get back into shape for myself, I turned to my blog because I knew it was a meaningful way to connect with yours online and share my experience.
I also acknowledged the fact that I could be lazy like many other people and that blogging would keep me accountable throughout my training cycle. I tried a bunch of things and was working toward developing a program that really worked for me. It was also an opportunity to use technology to improve the way that I trained and create a framework that would improve my chances of success.
After the first 90 day program, I had a really good result and thought that was that. Then a few friends asked me to take them through the program. Within six months, that turned into 20 trainees, and we started to build the Kenzai community. I started the project for fun, and it quickly grew from overwhelming demand for programs that actually work and help people maintain their results long term.
As it developed it felt inevitable because it was never hard to find new people that wanted to regain control of their health and fitness.
Q: You did a live cast series recently! What was that experience like?
Reynolds: Ha, that was pretty funny. For 90 days I made a commitment to run through one of our Kenzai programs and to live stream every single workout, take a photo of every meal and snack, and blog the experience. I met a lot of really cool people who would ask questions and give support as I sweated through three months of training. Of course, there were a fair number of weirdos and trolls, but that was part of the fun too if you don’t take any of it personally. One of the things I love about the internet is how it’s like the wild west; you never know what kind of funny, heart-warming, or offbeat things will happen on a given day.
Taking photos of the food (see below for a sample of some of the meals) was really instructive at first. You start to see patterns emerging and tend to diversify your food choices just so you can take a photo of something more interesting! The thing I really disliked was how the food photos forced me to have my phone on me at every meal, which led to idle browsing while I ate.
All in all live streaming an entire fitness cycle was really rewarding, I felt like I had a global cheering section. But I won’t lie, being on screen that much was exhausting. After just a few weeks I was thoroughly sick of myself!