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Expert insights on innovation with Melvin Rook, Funxtion CTO

In this interview, Funxtion Chief Technology Officer Melvin Rook talks about innovation in fitness, focusing on Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the member journey, member retention and gym growth.

How does AI work in the fitness industry?  

When AI is managed and integrated into the content fitness platform and, of course, the gym member app, it takes only a few minutes to analyze the fitness level of new members, offering a personal fitness training plan that actually matches their goals and preferences.

Naturally, members who track, achieve and increase the intensity of their workouts are more likely to stay engaged in the long term, which improves gym retention rates. 

How will AI improve the member experience?  

In my opinion, by leveraging AI, gyms can create a more inclusive and empowering environment for newcomers, helping them build confidence, establish healthy habits and achieve their fitness goals.

There are many studies suggesting that goal setting, motivation, and accountability can truly transform the gym experience of those new members. Every operator knows that it requires a high level of personalization. But it’s impossible to offer personalization at a scale, right?

Well, that’s where Artificial Intelligence can improve the member experience at scale.

In the industry, this is our chance to make a really positive impact on the community by offering every member fully personalized workout plans, engaging content and new revenue streams for operators.

What’s your take on the software vs. hardware debate? 

Looking at other industries, such as health care and banking,  I am convinced that the success in the fitness industry lies in leveraging the potential of both hardware and software.

Connected hardware, integrated with cloud-based software and accessible through mobile apps, can truly enhance the gym member experience, improve member engagement and support different types of fitness goals. 

For example, Funxtion has recently partnered with EGYM, the leader in smart equipment. Together, we are offering EGYM enterprise gym operators access to a premium digital fitness content library which includes training plans, how-to guides for beginners and training series.

That’s the kind of omnichannel experience that software and hardware-based solutions can achieve together.  

What’s the future of gyms?

Every gym in the near future should be able to offer a fully connected, 360-degree member experience with online and offline options in a way that truly matches the customers’ hybrid lifestyle to improve their health and reach their fitness goals.  

That’s why at Funxtion, we are helping gyms to go in that direction with Funxtion’s Fitness Content Platform. Members can still participate in engaging classes, group exercises and functional training with our in-gym solutions.

Meanwhile, trainers can get extra support with MultiScreen Solution, the Funxtion in-club technology to stream on-demand and digital workouts across multiple display screens on the gym floor during circuit workouts. This way, members can receive the necessary support while having the same content available on their gym member apps. That’s a real omnichannel fitness journey.  

Funxtion Omnichannel Fitness Journey

How can operators ensure that people go to the gym?  

Operators can ensure that people continue visiting the gym by upgrading their digital strategy.

Let’s take a look at the data. 68% of regular fitness practitioners start their fitness journey at home, but 51% within this group also go to the gym. It’s data coming from Les Mills’s report regarding audience insights for GenZ, who account for over 70% of the gym population right now.  

Any advice for gym operators looking to enhance the gym experience?

If operators want to encourage members to visit the gym more often, they will need to become the go-to place for everything related to fitness. But are operators providing hybrid and flexible training options? How flexible and omnichannel is their digital strategy?

My advice is that operators don’t delay their gym’s digitalization plan and start offering hybrid workouts to their community.

What’s Funxtion latest tech developments?  

Recently, we’ve unveiled a completely revamped platform which includes a new Open API. Additionally, we’ve rolled out a new version of our white-label member app, which is a custom-branded app, to enhance the user experience.  

We’ve successfully delivered our initial set of SDKs, which stands for Software Development Kit.

The Funxtion SDK is a collection of tools, libraries and documentation that software developers use to embed Funxtion’s functionality into any type of app.

What’s the advantage of SDK for content integration?

By using the SDK, developers can leverage pre-built components as a plug-and-play system, which significantly reduces development time and effort for our clients.  

The best part is that SDKs are flexible and can help operators stay on brand by accessing our content and putting their own brand on it. It facilitates smooth integration with Funxtion’s fitness-related services, such as workout routines, training videos and interactive elements.  

What directions are you taking at Funxtion?  

As a data-driven CTO, I look at opportunities which the data collected points out us while driven by strong principles which have proven to be successful. 

The points I have on the horizon that will impact the upcoming 5 years are, first, to speed up integration and onboarding time –and new business expansion– by offering an Open API, SDKs and UI toolkits.

The Funxtion Fitness Platform-Workout Creator

What makes a fitness software company successful?

I am convinced that a positive UX can differentiate between a successful SaaS platform and one that fails to gain traction.  As software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms continue to grow in popularity, the importance of user experience (UX) cannot be overstated.

And I believe that by getting the human and machines working together, we are committed to building ethical and responsible AI practices into our platform.

This includes ensuring that AI models are free from bias and discrimination and that they prioritize the needs of our clients.

About Funxtion

Funxtion is the world’s leading B2B digital fitness content platform that has helped enterprise gym operators achieve high records of member retention since 2011. By delivering fitness content in the gym and on the go, Funxtion has helped increase gym group class attendance by 220% and engagement to a higher level.

In 2022, Funxtion raised EUR 5.8 million in equity capital to accelerate the innovation of its platform and fuel rapid international expansion. 

Talk to our team. You will receive a personalized plan adjusted to your business that will foster new levels of success.

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