Digital subscriptions are charting a course to help provide runners with an alternative to working out alone, through the guidance of coaches offered on monthly or yearly plans. “We thought there would be a more fun way to get runners engaged,” Charge Running Co-founder Julie Knippen told PYMNTS in an interview. While some people want to get into a cardio routine, she noted, “sometimes it’s hard to get out the door.” She also wanted to make it easy to stay in a run, and not just look at a watch and wonder “have I run long enough?”
“We know races are fun, but training for them? Not so much,” Knippen said. To bring excitement back into the everyday run, she helped create Charge Running. “It’s a mobile fitness app that provides live group fitness classes that you can do from anywhere in the world,” she noted. Through the app, users can see live runs and run along with other users. Trainers provide live feedback, unlike the experience that a pre-recorded app provides. Knippen noted that trainers can, for instance, say that a runner is doing a great job at a nine-minute pace, but that another user is coming up behind them.
The first display a user sees with the app is a screen showing the next live run taking place. The app also shows the duration, intensity and style of the run, and consumers can indicate whether they are running outside, running on a treadmill or listening. When users join a workout, coaches welcome them and take them through a two- to four-minute warmup. During the run, a live leaderboard shows the user’s name along with anyone else running with her. At the end of the workout, there is a cooldown where users walk, stretch and hydrate. They can also congratulate each other and share selfies in the chat room.
To start using the running app, users can download it through the App Store. They can then log in with email and Facebook and automatically join a free two-week trial. (Per the latest PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index, 70 percent of top subscription plans offer a free trial.) Consumers can sign up for a monthly or yearly subscription plan. Payments are made directly through the App Store; most consumers have a payment card linked to their iTunes accounts.
With the unlimited subscription, consumers can tap into the app’s offering more than once a day, as it hosts several live daily runs. It also hosts races on Saturdays that include one-mile sprints, four-mile runs or 10Ks – including a 5K for St. Patrick’s Day. The races are a good way to track progress, get new personal records (PR) and continue to improve as well as reach goals, Knippen noted.
The app also offers on-demand runs that have already happened, which users can join anytime. The runs are ranked by intensity from light to moderate and hard. Users can try to race against everyone else on the leaderboard and, in the latest update, can try to beat their time and race against themselves.
Knippen said the Charge Running platform has trainers who are at least group fitness certified and have years of experience in running and training, but also have unique backgrounds. Users can access trainers’ individual bios, including their styles and expertise, on the app. One trainer, for instance, has had a successful NCAA career with multiple sub-4:30 miles, and coaches at both the high school and college level.
Beyond Charge Running, NEOU streams fitness classes in several different disciplines, from boxing to barre. The subscription service is available through mediums such as Apple TV and iOS. At the same time, Aaptiv offers subscription-based fitness for a monthly or annual fee. Founder and CEO Ethan Agarwal told PYMNTS in an interview last June, “There is a huge market for us to serve – 17 million people run a 5K in the U.S. per year; eight million people run a 10K. There are a lot people we can help.”
From Aaptiv to NEOU and Charge Running, fitness apps are tapping into a subscription business model to serve athletes or those looking to get into shape in the digital age of health and wellness.