VirtualNick can take your lockdown fitness from zero to hero
An app that devises exercise routines for the lockdown era is experiencing a sales boom.
The idea came to Nick Apps in 2017 when he was a 19-year-old personal trainer.
“I spent four years as a personal trainer and a client said: ‘Artificial intelligence can provide the answers for optimising workouts’,” says Nick. “So I asked my clients some questions and their answers became their workout.”
From there Nick developed a chatbox – with some assistance.
“I started Cambridge Exercise Technology in 2018. The first step was to understand how to build this type of business, and that led to a chatbot being created out of Facebook, and users interacted with it for a workout from home.
“That was a very basic version,” he recalls. “I’ve always had one or two advisers and they started helping out. We had to raise some money – we received a grant from the European Regional Development Fund, I got the grant for gamification and innovation, and we launched in June 2019.”
Last September Nick – who still keeps his hand in as a personal trainer and “has a handful of clients left while I’m phasing it out” – began the next stage of his start-up journey.
“We’re in the Accelerate programme at the Cambridge Judge Business School,” he says. “It’s a great community of start-ups. ”
The free app is currently available for Apple, with the android version due next month. When the android version is on sale VirtualNick will become a subscription-based product.
“It’s hard to say when because of the current situation but definitely this year. All the development timelines are being thrown out of the window.”
“We’ve had downloads from 40 countries,” Nick notes. “The idea is that if you want to train in a gym or at home with zero equipment, we can optimise for that situation. Or you might want to use it for outdoor exercise, why not? If you’re in lockdown the app will optimise for your situation even if you have no equipment.
“The workout is based on what goal you want to achieve, how long you want to exercise for and how many sessions per week you want to train. If you’re in a gym you can use all the equipment they have there and we’ll help you with all the exercises you want to achieve your goal.
“Wherever you are you tell us what kit you have and VirtualNick will work out an exercise routine. If you’re at home it could be you have dumbbells, or a rowing machine or just your bodyweight. We can create a workout from literally nothing, just your bodyweight. As long as you have some floor space we can create a workout for you. Times go from half an hour to two hours, with sessions from one day a week to five days a week.
“We want people to stay active, healthy and positive while they’re in lockdown.”
Check the VirtualNick Facebook page for an introductory set of exercises.
More by this authorMike Scialom