Developing and maintaining a fitness routine doesn’t have to be a terrible task in today’s world. With the advent of wearables and apps that track your every move and every step, technology has helped shorten the gap between people and their fitness goals. Actor-turned-politician and now turned entrepreneur Gul Panag, has co-founded a tech startup called MobieFit that will develop mobile fitness apps.
MobieFit’s maiden app FirstRun is designed to get even beginners running with discipline and the actor herself plays the voice coach. In an exclusive chat with Radhika Sharma, she talks about fitness, tech, running and getting folks to their first 5k run in just 9 weeks!
Q: Let’s start at the very beginning. How did your fitness journey start? When did you realize you wanted to channel your passion into a business?
“I’ve always been very active. I started running when I was 16, because my father always guided us towards the importance of prioritizing exercise and making time for it. I’ve enjoyed running and believe it’s the easiest, most natural way to stay fit. A lot of people come up to me face to face, or on twitter asking for fitness tips. This app gives a little more structure to someone looking to run a longer distance – and acts like a buddy in encouraging you to go from ‘Couch to 5 km’. Technology is something I am also very passionate about, and I feel the two coming together was a matter of time.”
Q: Give us a little background on MobieFit and why you took an interest in it?
“MobieFit is a technology venture focused on mFitness founded by Gourav Jaswal and me . It helps you become as fit as you want, in the way that you want. MobieFit is one among many ventures born at Prototyze, an incubator founded by Gourav. I have always maintained a keen interest in technology and was on the look out for the perfect coming together of my passion for fitness and technology.”
Q: As Chief Fitness Officer, what does your job entail ?
Its a fun title. Being co founder I got to pick the title I wanted to give myself. My goal is to encourage as many peopleas possible within the company and outside to embark on a life long journey of fitness.
Q: Wearables are creating huge excitement in the health space today. What’s your reading of this trend? Do you see more people switching to a healthier life now that such devices are so handy?
“Over the years, I have seen how important it is to bring fitness into our lives. I have witnessed first-hand the positive transformation it has brought in those close to me. I wish I had access to this kind of technology when I started running. If I had the support of a fantastic app like FirstRun, I would have definitely struggled less to run my first 3 miles. Stand alone fitness Wearable devices will see a growth in the near future, however the real game changer will be accessible multifunction wearable devices that serve fitness requirements and more.”
Q: So lets’ talk about First Run. Give us a little insight into your maiden app
FirstRun is MobieFit’s first mobile app designed to make runners out of those who’ve never run before in their lives. The app is available on the Google Play Store for free, including all premium features. Users can select from two running programs: a 5 kilometre program (based on Josh Clark’s world-renowned C25K program) and a 10 kilometre program. The most unique feature of the app is the personal trainer, Me. FirstRun has many unique features that set it apart. Primary among which is the presumption that the user can run only one minute (yes, only one minute) at a time for the first session. Other than a personal trainer, the app also focuses on a combination of walking and running, is perfect for beginners, great to train for a 5k run and 10k run, has a treadmill mode and also an in-app music player.
Q: Is developing a social network around an app or a device a key factor in its deployment and product life cycle? How can networks like these help people using them?
Fitness when pursued from a community perspective is very rewarding for individual users. In turn the community helps in creating buzz and interest in any product’s awareness and trials and adoption.
Q: Do tell us some of the fitness apps that you have used in the past or use now?
I have been using FirstRun for testing these last few months. In addition I also use a Tabata app.
Q: And finally- is India warming upto the wearable space? How do you see this evolution panning out in the next couple of years?
I think the trend is only going to grow as technology becomes even more integrated in our daily lives. The rapid proliferation of smart phones especially budget smart phones is helping in the bridging the information gap and will go a long way in creating awareness towards fitness.
FirstRun is available on the Android Play Store.