Please enjoy this transcript for 367 – Strength Portal: The Ultimate Software for your Strength Training Business with Matt McGunagle
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Lawrence: Lawrence Neal here. Welcome back to High Intensity Business, the podcast where we discuss high intensity strength training and provide you with the tools, tactics, and strategies to help you grow your strength training business. To download and read the transcript for this episode, please go to highintensitybusiness.com, search for episode 367, and you can find the transcript download button there. You also get access to lots of more free resources to help you grow your business.
The topic of today’s podcast, I’m really excited about. We’re going to be diving into the app for strength training businesses called the Strength Portal. Today’s guest is Matt McGunagle. Matt graduated from Cal Poly SLO as an Econ major with a concentration on Entrepreneurship. I should say Matt is also the founder of Strength Portal. That’s kind of important. His younger brother went to Cal Poly SLO as well for Kinesiology with a goal of becoming a strength coach and personal trainer which taught Matt everything he knows about health and fitness. Matt and his brother fell in love with coaches like Dan John, Eric Cressey, and Tony Gentilcore in high school and college.
I love this bio by the way, Matt. It’s very exciting to read.
Matt saw an opportunity to build a software platform for trainers. He started the business in 2013-14 with a few friends. Got into an accelerator which I believe is an investment situation. Have you got a few investors onboard?
Matt: Yes. Essentially, they get a bunch of startups together. They take 7% of the business. You get a little bit of money and you get a whole bunch of resources and you just do nothing but work for about 3 to 4 months straight.
Lawrence: They built version 1 with that assistance. Scale it a bit but decided to shove the business because it wasn’t a good platform or sustainable which is just a combination of building in the wrong direction with focusing on trainers going online which early as you say here and a non-scalable platform as well. And then you went to work for a freelance software development company for several years. Got a lot more reps; excuse the pun, no pun intended; and experience. And then you took that freelancing and rebuilt Strength Portal 2.0 in 2017. And then you move from the Bay Area to San Diego, and have since had quite a bit of success signing up Equinox for all locations in 2018. Congratulations!
Matt: Thank you.
Lawrence: Belated congratulations. And then you added partner integrations with MINDBODY in 2020, and then more recently working with Discover Strength in 2021 who my audience all know and love. You are continually growing very fast so it’s an exciting future. I love the story because you clearly had a little bit of a bumpy road and some minor failures on the way which makes for a better story and I’m sure has turned you into a better entrepreneur.
Matt: Yeah. No, I think currently I like learning lessons the hard way.
Lawrence: Yeah, same here. Let’s just get started straight into it. What is Strength Portal?
Matt: Well, first of all, thank you for having me, Lawrence. I really appreciate it. Strength Portal is a SaaS platform for gyms, studios, and personal trainers to manage and scale their training services. If you just boil it down to the basics, most of our customers are writing personalized workout programs, tracking the workouts on the floor with the clients. Typically, that’s being done in pen and paper or spreadsheets, so we have built a system to replace that. And also trying to deliver value to the business, the trainers themselves, and also the customers.
Lawrence: Great. Actually to start this, as we were kind of saying before we got started, this is something that a lot of businesses have really struggled to crack. There’s been lots of applications that have come out to try and serve the industry. I don’t know whether… Because obviously I’m very focused on strength training, studios, and high intensity training so I’m not sure whether there is… Well, I’m sure there are applications out there that other different fitness businesses use.
Matt: Oh yeah.
Lawrence: But in terms of our particular niche, nothing really seems to really take off and started to be used by all the businesses. There would perhaps be something that would come out and then some businesses would try it, but then they will just default back to pen and paper because there was too much friction, it was too slow, and there’s probably a whole bunch of other reasons as well. It’s exciting to obviously see an application that’s already very popular among some of my closest friends in our industry. The reason you’re on this podcast is because of the likes of Skyler Tanner, and Dr. Bryce Lee, and Blair Wilson have been singing your praises and talking about this software. They’re constantly troubleshooting in our WhatsApp group that I’m part of helping each other out. They had a few questions. I put a message in the group before this call and I said, said, “What questions do you have for Matt because I’m going to talk to him today and maybe I’ll get a chance to ask him and help you guys out.” And so then Blair asked the question, and then Skyler and Bryce just sent like 50 messages helping themselves out. Now, it’s totally redundant. There’s no point in me even asking it. So there you go.
Matt: That’s honestly so cool. That really means a lot.
Lawrence: That’s what you want, right?
Lawrence: Users that become so passionate about it. They learn it inside out and they can actually help each other. That community kind of built it.
Lawrence: I should have started with that because that’s really important. And I should say, there are some other apps out there which I am looking at as well. Again, designed by individuals who know this space, who know high intensity training very well. But I just think that you are probably slightly ahead at this stage. You gave a really good description there. Just a high level view of Strength Portal. Is this a good time now to actually share your screen and just give us an overview of the product so we can see how it works?
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. I can transition to that. But maybe I’ll answer the question that you are helping to kind of frame the conversation.
Matt: There are a lot of software platforms out there for fitness businesses. I think the best way to summarize it, especially when we first started the business in 2013, then we rebuilt in 2017-2018 is that the majority of the software out there has focused on independent personal trainers, helping them take their business online. And so when we first started in 2013, we were one of two. But when we rebuilt the platform in 2017 we’re deciding where to focus on, in a span of a few years there’s already 10 or 12 different softwares out there so a completely different landscape. What we saw as an opportunity was to instead of building a bit of an easier use case with a single trainer, sending a workout program to a client online through a mobile app, we decided to get into a very messy and complex situation which was helping multi-location businesses but also single-location businesses with a full training team that are doing in-person training, semi-private training, hybrid training, and also pure online training.
So to boil that back, I think the real value in our platform is that we’ve gone into a very complex situation and we’ve spent literally years now building a software platform that meets the needs for high demand use cases. If you think about the average day for some of your friends that you mentioned, Skyler Tanner, Bryce Lee, Blair Wilson, the team over at Discover Strength, they go in, they are working 10 to 12 hours a day. They are writing very detailed personalized workout programs. They have multiple trainers on the floor tracking those workouts and they’re viewing the data every single week, every single month, and trying to write the right program for those clients to help them keep on making progress. It’s really challenging to build software for these types of use cases where you are having your users use responsive web apps in environments that may not have a great WiFi even to start and to just meet their basic needs. The question you are asking in the beginning is like, why hasn’t the software really cracked this space?
Matt: It was really simple to replace pen and paper and Excel but it’s really not. We do look at competitors and stuff like that. But really our biggest competitor is Excel, and pen and paper, and just the built up habits of our customers using their systems that don’t necessarily scale well or don’t really necessarily allow you to leverage the data in really interesting and meaningful ways. That’s our competitor right there is building software that allows our customers to seamlessly transition from something that is working really well for years. It’s challenging. I just wanted to dig into that before jumping into the software because I could talk about this for hours. It’s really fun, interesting, and complex. I learn something new probably every single week from our customers.
Lawrence: What are some of the biggest challenges then in making this work and making actual customers use it?
Matt: Part of it was just the onboarding in the first place. If you look at most of our customers that are using scheduling software and that’s their source of truth – their database for their customers. You look at the few different iterations of where we focus on our business. Phase 1 maybe 2017 to 2020 was focusing on in-person training for Equinox specific needs across hundred locations. We built a really strong foundation where their trainers were using our platform every single day, tracking hundreds of workouts, and doing it successfully by using tablets in dungeons and basements in New York for example. We built the foundation that sets us up for success but after that we invested into integrations such as MINDBODY where now it’s essentially a turnkey. We come with the customer. We start with a customer. We help them to set up their exercise library that can be completely customized, their workout program library, and we turn on the integration, and then their trainers were able to log in and access all their clients.
To answer that specifically, onboarding is a big challenge for us because our customers have so much content to walk into other areas such as those spreadsheets, that pen and paper, or maybe it’s just in their head. The goal is sometimes it takes a week, sometimes it takes up to 6. But we have to make a heavy investment into the onboarding, so that when their trainers use the platform, they have all the content they need so they can make that seamless transition. We work really hard with just engaging with the customer, helping them get that content in place, building tools to streamline the operation so when their training team starts using it it is not like they have to start using everything from scratch or writing their own workout programs from scratch. Because learning any new tool is going to take some time and it’s particularly challenging when this is a tool that’s so integrated into their daily lives. If you don’t meet that minimum value, often people will just stop.
Lawrence: You got to scale up really quick.
Matt: Yup. Compared to other software across many different industries that can deliver value as soon as you turn it on, we have to work a lot harder to get to that value return which I think is a bit of a barrier upfront. But once you get past that bump there’s so much value you’re going to get in your daily work flow and also in the long term. It results in a situation that is painful upfront but our customers get that long-term value and they never leave which is a very business situation for us.
Lawrence: Yeah, sticky. I’d be completely really upfront. The biggest issue for me… And for everyone listening I haven’t yet transitioned to Strength Portal. Although it’s on the list and we’re very interested in today’s purpose to explore that a little bit more. I don’t know whether this is relevant but whenever I’ve done political compass, I come across like I’m kind of center but leaning right. I’m kind of conservative and I’m resistant to change in a lot of ways. I don’t know whether that’s relevant. But it just made me think, well… Sorry, you got a comment on there? Go ahead.
Matt: No. I mean, I think that’s really interesting that pops in your mind. It is like if you’re a business owner, especially a small business owner like most of your listeners probably are, change is always going to be harder. Like you have so many different things going on. You’re taking out so many different tasks for your business day in and day out. And so when you get a tool that’s working well enough, you know how much effort it requires to replace that with something new. Just to go a little bit deeper there. Our family business, my dad runs a small furniture store. He’s a carpenter by trade. I’ve been running a family business back home in California in Sonoma for 35 years. That’s the environment I grew up in. I’m very aware of what it’s like for a small business owner to actually. That’s what I became. I definitely recognize what you kind of did on the exact issue. Change is hard and you know how painful it is. And even though you know a maybe better solution to move to, just the pain of having gone through situations like that before where you know it’s going to be tough 2 to 3 months no matter what prevents a lot of people from even starting. Our job is to try to make it as easy as possible for people to transition, to reduce or remove that friction.
Lawrence: It’s so funny. You’re so right. This might be interesting to you when I think of our priorities for the year and for the quarter and things I’m focused on. Maybe it should be further up and sometimes it’s not because I’m more focused on these other things. They might be generating free workouts for example or something else. It’s one of those where if you’re looking at it like an Eisenhower Matrix, well, at least for us currently forcing the important but not urgent quadrant. But what is making it more I think coming to the four for us is a couple of things. There is the desire from clients to see more progress tracking. The way we’ve been doing that recently is through just using a Google Sheet and taking values from either someone’s virtual, which is their workout card would be a Google Sheet again, or their physical workout card. And obviously producing very, very basic graphs based on those values which is difficult because there are a lot of variables. Especially the more long term it becomes and all those things. And then you’ve got some really clever clients. We tend to attract very smart people who have a good understanding of engineering and mathematics and they are like, “Well, hang on. That doesn’t show me… This type of representation of my performance…”, or whatever it is, right? I know that software would make that tenacious. That is a big draw for one of them.
I think the other one is just trying to think of other things that bring it to the four for us. I think it is just professionalism as well as having the workout card. There is potentially a thing where we think, well, we are selling something that’s a premium price point. We want to position ourselves as being a very high quality brand. Does pen and paper represent that in today’s world where you have this technology available to you? There’s a lot more probably that I can’t think of right now but I have to go back to some of my other lists. But those things come through right away in terms of things that make me think we should really be thinking about this.
Matt: Do you mind if I ask you a question like how big is your team?
Lawrence: We are very small. We are a startup so we have two trainers. It’s three of us, two trainers.
Matt: The reason I asked that is that the point in most of our customer’s business growth where they recognize the pain enough to transition over to our platform is when they start to go from one trainer to two and kind of see the path to go into three or five. That’s where I think the value of our platform really starts to shine. If you come on Strength Portal, if you use it as a single personal trainer maybe it won’t look that interesting compared to other software platforms out there that focus on that.
Now, when you go from two to three to five, or if you’d use an extreme example of our customers like Equinox where they have 100 locations with 15 or 25 trainers per location. You’ll start to see how seamlessly it scales for all the value that we’ve built in that makes it easy to work together as a team. That’s what I am talking about the complexity of the work environments that we’ve really focused on. We’ve spent years focusing on those exact relationships between the trainers on a training floor. What their tasks are going to be like week to week and then how to interact with the clients. I think that’s really interesting because if you want to get really nitty gritty… Think about it, I’m a trainer and I’m trying to build a smart professional training system that’s going to be reproducible for all of my team to be able to consistently deliver results month after month and be able to retain the clients.
Ideally you want something that scales. That’s where we’ve really focused on our product and where we put our time and energy into the future is how to collaborate seamlessly as a team. That’s one of the main reasons that Equinox, Discover Strength and also some of the customers that you mentioned like Blair, Skyler, Bryce and more, are all like that in growth. They are reaching that next phase of growth as a business. And they are realizing like, hey, it’s worth putting up with that short term pain to be able to make it to like if I can hire a new trainer and just give them Strength Portal and they know exactly what to do because there is a clear process to follow. That makes it much easier for me to help scale my business to the next level and the next level.
Lawrence: You are speaking my language. Is it a good time now to actually give an overview or do you want to talk some more? I don’t mind whatever it is.
Matt: I’m happy to just jump right into it.
Lawrence: I guess what we have to be mindful of is we’ll have this on YouTube but there will be people that are just listening so I will try to paint you a vivid picture if Matt doesn’t do so as we go through this.
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. Just to go high level really quick I think it’s good to [unclear] I did say it earlier but step one when you are onboarding with us is we are going to be asking if you have a billing and scheduling platform that you are already using. So if it’s MINDBODY, Jonas Fitness, ABC Fitness, or something else, we are building more support integrations to make it easy for you to onboard. So that’s step one is to figure out where all of your staff and member accounts are and if we can turn on the integration to be able to pull them into the system to make it really easy to get started that we want to recognize that. But we do have other options whether we just do a .csv upload or manual add. Our customers use all those options to be able to get started in Strength Portal.
But I’m going to go over to the platform which I’m demoing now. Step one when we engage with a customer is we want to figure out who is going to be what we call the ‘super admin’ of the team account. That is essentially going to be the person who is managing the content, the integrations, the billing, but also making sure that everything is in place for the training team to do their work day in and day out. What you are seeing here is an organization page. This is where those different paths for getting all your accounts come in. They have the ability to connect to different integrations. You just turn them on, you can add users, and you can do the import. At the end of that the outcome will be you have a full list of your staff and a full list of your clients or members at a location better accessible for you.
The reason that I’m demoing this is for two reasons. Step one is get it in there so that it’s set up. But after that, after you get everything so that the team can start working you are going to be able to get all this really nice pretty data coming in to see the activity matrix. So if I’m a gym owner, fitness manager at a single location and I have multiple trainers that are using the platform, I am able to see how many clients they are working with. How many programs they are enrolling to clients, the workouts that they are tracking every single week or over a month. And if the clients are actually having a workout shared with them and the clients are tracking that, we can see that as well. It says Client Homework here. We’ll probably change that to just Client Tracked Workouts.
The end goal here is that as a manager, and most likely for your customers, they are still going to be on the floor doing training day in and day out. But at the end of the week you can see what it looks like overall across the entire team. Just to go on a little deeper there, one of our goals probably for the backup this year is to dive a little bit deeper into the integrations from MINDBODY is a good example where there is going and scheduling data. You have for how many training sessions someone has paid for, how many training sessions they have completed. And then on our platform we have the actual workouts that are being tracked and the data associated with that. We want to be able to pull in additional data from MINDBODY to make it easier for you to have one location that is relevant for you to be able to know what types of conversations you need to have with trainers and their clients to ensure that your business is moving forward from a revenue direction as well.
Lawrence: One of the things I struggle with MINDBODY, and it’s probably because we’re cheap and we are on the lowest tier, is the reporting options are very, very limited. Would this mean that you would be able to see the sessions completed without having to then upgrade to the second tiers you can integrate with Strength Portal to get that feature? Get those reports?
Matt: We are going to try to figure out how to navigate that whether we can just pull in that data and match it out with our own and show both or if we could do something that’s a little bit more automated back to MINDBODY. It takes away the manual step for tracking in one system and tracking in two. The reporting kind of those automations are really interesting to me but also just making smarter reports with more concrete data where you can confirm platform 1, platform 2, like there is no any mismatches between it. Because especially as your team and the amount of workouts that you are doing each week scales, you want to be able to get as much detail as possible to make sure there is nothing fishy. It is all accurate and clean. We’ll figure that out. We have a handful of data that will just make it a richer data set for you to be able to work from.
Lawrence: It’s a bit of an odd question but we are definitely guilty of giving someone a personal training session for free because we’ve mismanaged their number of sessions in MINDBODY and whatever. I’m sure listeners can relate to that. That’s one of my concerns with MINDBODY reports is I know because we are not using MINDBODY absolutely perfectly that our reports probably aren’t that useful. There’s going to be some discrepancies. Is that going to be any different with Strength Portal? Will it highlight those discrepancies because you are seeing a difference in the reports? I’m just curious how this helps that situation if that makes sense.
Matt: What you’ll have in our platform to just start there is traceability. As a training team, you will be able to go to every single account and see when the workouts were tracked via that timestamps and who tracked them. I think it allows you to get the confirmation that you’re looking for. If you are looking at MINDBODY it is just like a session less track. But in our system you have the traceability to see who did what at what time and then you can paint that picture to confirm whether it is accurate or not.
Lawrence: Okay, great. I think you gave a good description of what we are looking at right now. But basically Matt has got the Strength Portal app opened on his browser and we are looking at a list of clients. Obviously it’s just a demo account. They are just Client A, Client B. Client C. It’s really good. It shows you how many programs they are enrolled in, sessions completed, sessions remaining. It is a nice overview of client management.
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. Actually that will transition over to the exercise library. I think your audience will find this interesting for a few different reasons. If you make an account on Strength Portal what is going to happen is that a library will be generated just kind of our default. It is a list of 800 exercises. About 300 of them have our exercise videos which anyone can use. There is no branding associated with them so hopefully it’s a turnkey. But for the customers that we work with, especially your audience, Lawrence is that there is a very specific structure that’s now being programmed.
Matt: I don’t know if it’s… Yeah, maybe just picky. You had your preferences.
Lawrence: We do.
Matt: There is definitely no critique on that. The nice thing about our platform is that and also our users which I found really interesting is that they come in and they are, “Cool. I’m not going to use that.” We have the ability to create a custom library from scratch with them. Oftentimes when we talk to our customers they are like, “Yeah, I already have everything in the spreadsheet. Can you just import that?” Yeah, we can. We work with them to make sure based off from our lessons probably doing this across hundreds of locations for the last 5 years maybe things you want to avoid for terminology and nomenclature be the like [unclear] Who has the ability to edit this one person versus a full team so you don’t add to the clutter for your exercise library. And the exercise library scales really nicely as well whether it is one location, one training team, or multiple. But anyhow we have the ability to create that custom library. I think Discover Strength has maybe about 200 exercises mostly based on their equipment. Skyler may have a combination of our library and the ones that he has added. I think it is something similar with Bryce and Blair and those users as well.
Just to go back to one thing you are talking about earlier, one of the interests for a lot of our customers coming into Strength Portal is that you are trying to create a system in being professional. And going back to that idea where I talked about if we can have a platform where you hire a new trainer, they come in, and it is essentially turnkey. Getting the exercise library right is super important for that in my eyes. You want a trainer to be able to come in here and be like, “Hey, here’s exactly how we program. Here are the exercises we use.” And having the level of detail that you can get on our exercise library to be able to customize exercises to meet your needs is really important for that.
Just to click through maybe a few of these and talk through a few examples. I’m clicking on Exercise. Maybe it’s an old school [unclear] thing exercise. It is one board bench press. It’s got sets, reps, weight. That’s in there. But the reason I’m bringing this up is that you have a variety of different metrics that you can choose for each exercise. You have the exercise name, sets are obviously going to be present with every single exercise. But the different metrics that you can track with the exercise or variables can be reps, weight, distance, and time. We do force you to select one or two of those metrics to be associated with that exercise. But when we get later to the programming you don’t see that. Even though we have those preset options you do have the option to add or still track other metrics as well.
A use case where we see really common, especially probably for your audience, is that maybe it’s not so much sets, reps, weight which is maybe a little bit more general consumer average fitness standard. Maybe it’s going to be reps, weight, and time because your audience really cares about time under tension. You do have the ability to make that a standard whether it is weight and time or reps and time associated with an exercise. And then when you add that exercise to a program those are the metrics that are going to pop up right away for you to be able to track into. But you do have the flexibility to add each of those metrics and track them in the programs if you want to get more detailed as well.
After that you do have the ability to add an exercise description. Two different ways that this can be leveraged is that it can be internally focused whether it’s, “Hey, here is this exercise and I’m writing this description to help my training team know how to coach a client for this exercise. Or maybe you do hybrid, an online training where you’re sharing workouts with your clients. This information will be visible to them as well. Even if you aren’t with them in person they can still have the information they need to perform that exercise in a safe way. So you are not adding risk to the experience.
And two other things. You do have the ability to add YouTube or Vimeo videos to those. We might add the ability to post directly like an AWS S3 Bucket. We can do that for you as well. GIFs as well. Yeah, I ran through a lot.
Lawrence: No, that’s great. What we are looking at now for those that are listening, we are looking at the Exercise Library page and it’s just a whole list of many, many exercises in alphabetical order. Did you say it is 800? Is that right?
Matt: Yeah, I think the default is around 800 when you make an account.
Lawrence: I think needless to say to your earlier point a lot of people in our space want to create their own exercise library or at least modify what’s here I suspect to match their own brand and beliefs about exercise. This is really interesting. There’s a few points I wanted to make. One of the challenges with not having a standard like these are the exercises that we use as trainers are probably going to use their own exercises. This is actually some of the habits in our business.
We’ve got a fantastic trainer who really stepped in for us when we needed him most. I was gone on paternity leave and I couldn’t train clients and just frankly my young family, my mrs. needed a lot of support. He understood our methodology. He is a HIT trainer so he could just step in and do a great job and very little onboarding required. We’ve got an “exercise menu” in a Google Sheet. I allow him to sort of deviate from that because he is kind of a special case. He’s got a few years under his belt teaching this style of exercise. He gets it. He understands our particular rules around exercise protocol and how to perform exercises. But occasionally I’m like I’m not sure I agree that’s the best option biomechanically for that particular muscle group. We had a discussion about it and then [unclear] I’m very much a believer of… How do I put this? I have so much belief in him that I’m not going to stifle.
Matt: Autonomy maybe.
Lawrence: Yeah, it’s autonomy. And also like, again, I don’t like the overwhelm of worrying about every detail. I like to just handle the big things. If he is doing a particular sit-up method which I don’t 100% think is the most optimal way. I don’t always think that’s the best way to use my time to correct that. At least not now where we are. That’s what I’m trying to say. I kind of pick my battles. That’s the first thing. Obviously the solution here in part is that you create consistency. I hope I understood this correctly. When trainers come to create programs, they can only pick exercises from the menu. They can’t just create something out of thin air unless they’ve got super admin permissions or something, right?
Lawrence: I mean, that’s obvious, right? You are already thinking, “Yeah, Lawrence, that’s one of the basic features.” I only really realize that after watching you go through this.
Matt: No. Yeah, it is something that seems simple at face. But when you are talking about it from a software level, what we are digging into here is called Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). Easier and more common to say this is roles and permissions. You have different roles and responsibilities within your organization whether it is one location or multiple. Where I was talking about all those complex challenges that we dug into and built for years is that we have a really strong ability to customize our roles and permissions. That’s going to be the default. What I am talking about is the super admin control. But we do have flexibility kind of like turn permission on or off depending on our customer’s needs. We do have some customers where it is super, super collaborative where their training team is all of this same level. They all add and work together. But we also have top-down control within our system which I think is really important. It is the right default for most.
Just to give an example. At Equinox, 100 different locations, exercise library about 900 but they do allow their trainers to write their own exercises. But the way that works is that if a trainer writes an exercise it is only going to show up in their library but not the full team library because you don’t want people to have a massive library and that builds. It allows for an interesting opportunity. Just like you were touching on where you have a trainer that you want to give some level of autonomy for it but you don’t want them to clutter up your master. They could either do exercises if they want to without affecting the overall. We’ve seen some really interesting and fun use cases for that where let’s just say a trainer is writing a workout for a client and they are going to be traveling. And maybe they write something that’s personal and fun as well as an exercise like, “Client A’s crazy calf.”
Matt: Yeah, good. Thank you for finishing that. You can do quirky stuff like that but we can also turn that off. Our platform when you go through it seems simple but it is incredibly hard work to be able to build a system that is simple but with smooth workflows with customization. For you with your use case and for most of your customers I do think the right choice is… We can talk through those options but it is helpful to have one source of control for making those decisions and be really clean as your team scales. You are going to have those conversations with your team and those are really healthy and engaging conversations to have. It is going to help your business evolve over time to maybe add, edit, or refine. Your team does have the ability to have those conversations and then you can make any adjustments to customize your exercise library whether it is day one or year three down the road.
Lawrence: Great. I don’t know if anyone else picked up on this but you said Discover Strength has about 200. I don’t know whether that is a work in progress. But that doesn’t surprise me because that’s one of the things I love about one of their policies is they have a few filters they use for deciding whether they use a particular exercise. It is normally something around efficiency, around biomechanics because that’s a big part of their differentiator – being efficient. I suspect that 200, correct me if I’m wrong, but that might be their entire library. That’s because they have really drawn down to these are the only exercises we believe are the most effective. Kudos to doing that. I think that’s a good job David and Luke and to everyone else who is involved. I think that’s very inspiring.
Matt: I think it is really interesting. To be honest it is something I didn’t fully get or expect until you see it. It is just you grow up in different [unclear] or different approaches etc., online fitness, in person fitness. That was really interesting for me to see after coming from more of an Equinox being all in Equinox for a few years. Luckily we build a system that has the flexibility to support those.
Lawrence: That must be quite removed actually. They are very different businesses and how they determine what’s an appropriate exercise or not.
Matt: I can’t share too much detail.
Lawrence: That’s okay.
Matt: It is honestly fascinating. I mean, one of my favorite things about talking to different customers is seeing their different approaches to the business. It all ties back to the business models and their prior education etc.
Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely. Interesting. Okay. Just to clarify. I have, as I said, a Google Sheet. I have exercise down one column and then all the various muscle groups that they target in 4 to 5 other columns like agonist muscle, antagonist, dynamic stabilizers, etc. And then I probably have another column that has some notes on how we want it to be performed. Then if there is a video there is another column with video links. How would that be seamlessly or what’s the easiest way to import that into something like this? Would we have to do that manually? Can you do that on our behalf? What’s the cost for something like that?
Matt: We do that for you.
Matt: We have an internal tool that we use. Unfortunately, since there is no one standard template that everyone is using. They [unclear] the Exercise Library. It is tough to build a tool that can be exposed to our customers. Essentially we take your spreadsheet. Maybe we just adjust the columns a bit or add/edit it slightly to ensure it is a clean import, and then we import it for you. You wouldn’t need to do anything. Our business model just to touch on that is… Unless you require custom setup like you don’t have support integration or something like that or if you’re not multi location. For a single location we don’t try to impose implementation or onboarding fees. I know that’s pretty standard in the industry for more of the legacy software out there. That’s just not how we choose to do business for our customers that aren’t enterprise or multi location. And their whole goal is to reduce friction, not add to it for you to get started. We know the friction they are going to be getting but the long term value is going to be observed.
Lawrence: Okay. Alright, so you would do that basically free of charge then? That piece of work?
Matt: That’s correct.
Lawrence: That could be quite extensive though. Quite a lot of labor. Or you’ve already got people who understand how to.
Matt: It is a combination of both. I mean, a good team we build good tools over the years to help. But also to be honest one of the reasons I really like it is it allows us to learn about our customer and become more familiar with their business. It is helpful for us because the more we understand our customer, the better we can build the right tools for them. There are so many different ways you can approach programming, and tracking, and the data that you’re going to be looking for. It is a helpful educational opportunity for us. It is kind of worth a little bit of the manual pain to be able to get a clear picture of the business that we are working with.
Lawrence: How big is the team?
Matt: We are a small team. It is five overall. We are a bootstrap, small, scrappy, hardworking team that loves what we do.
Lawrence: Cool. Awesome. Alright, so what’s next?
Matt: One thing just to touch on really quickly is we do have the ability to create groups. I don’t think I have any in this account. So exercise groups, one of the ways I think it is really interesting to be able to leverage this is you can create essentially a list of exercises. Think about this like maybe if I want to create a progression such as maybe single leg exercises from easiest to hardest, or squat progression. Or if you want to get really detailed like hip dominant bilateral or knee dominant bilateral, unilateral etc. You have the ability to create groups. This goes back to that onboarding education. It’s like you have trainers come in and they have a big list of exercises that they are working with. But if they have groups where it is organized to say, “Hey, here’s the exercises…” How we think about them to have that connected together. Here’s the progressions. You can actually put those exercise groups into programs and provide even a clear path for them to be able to work from. Going on our example a little bit further. Let’s say you have a workout program template where you have a squat and single leg or maybe a push or a pull. As a trainer you can go in. You can see those groups, select from the progression which one is going to be the right fit for your client and then you track that later on the floor.
It is a nice additional option that we have that I don’t think I really see anywhere else. It was inspired by a lot of the workout program spreadsheets that we used to see from our trainers back in the day when we’re building up the systems.
Lawrence: I don’t know if you’ve already answered this question. But let’s say I just want to know, okay, what are all the exercises we do for abdominals. Would that be in groups as well?
Matt: Yeah. You could do something like that. This is part of manual customization. We don’t have a standard but you could do that. The example I just gave is more internal facing like your staff for the programming but you could group it like that. Another use case that we’ve seen that I find super interesting is user choice. It is extending autonomy to your customers. Let’s just use cardio as an example. You write a workout program. You sent it to your client. They are doing it on their own and you say, “Hey, you are going to do an exercise from this list and it is 5 different cardio options.” Or abdominal, or core focus exercises they could choose from. They would have the ability to select from that list if they have the workout program shared with them. Going back to the idea of autonomy is you could have that not only for your training team but for your clients. That’s a really interesting potential option to engage.
Lawrence: Yeah, great. I’m just thinking the way I think we would like to do it, I’m just thinking out loud, is a trainer understands that he or she has a criteria for the client’s workout program. For instance, one of ours will be, this is similar to Discover Strength, a very comprehensive workout making sure there is an exercise for every muscle group. So by having groups based on muscle groups – chest, abdominals, shoulders, they can go to that and then just select the exercise that makes the most sense for that particular client. That could be one use case for that.
Matt: Once again just getting closer and closer to that idea where it is turnkey. It is like, “Hey, here’s how we do this.” That’s the whole goal. What I’ve done now for those that are listening is I switched over to the Program Management page, Program Library. I talk about this in two different parts. We have the super admin ability and team training staff use cases. The first page that I displayed is Team Library – a list of programs.
When we go to the onboarding process not only are we asking what’s your exercises that you want to have in your account, but do you have preset workout or templates? And then maybe we’ll write one or two of them for you into the account so you see it, or maybe we’ll do it together, or we’ll coach you on how to do it. But the main goal here once again is that you have the ability to write workout program templates and then turn them into team library templates. Team means that whenever a trainer logs in, they’ll have the ability to take one of these programs, make a copy of it, personalize it for their clients, and then now you have version 1 and version 2. That allows for creating that training system that’s reproducible and consistent across one trainer, two, three, or even multiple locations. You have a central source that improves a list of programs that can be pulled from. In this example that I’m demonstrating probably is not the perfect fit of program titles for your audience. I have Beginner Strength, Beginner Hypertrophy, Intermediate with the same intense, and then Advanced as an example. We see quite a variety of ways that team library program templates are built out. For Equinox for example, they have a team library program list of about 20 with a lot of very specific use cases that they could use. And then sometimes we see a little bit more focused in our general. We also see workout program assessment as maybe like a reusable template that you’re going to do once a month with a client to track progress for those specific exercises. You just do a check in. There are a lot of opportunities or different use cases that can be opened up from this feature.
Lawrence: This is great. Just to clarify further. Now we are looking at a screen which has all the programs which will encapsulate the different workout programs and they’ve just got different titles like Advanced Hypertrophy, Advanced Strength. Obviously, many of us would like to have some templates. I don’t know. It is interesting. I wonder how many templates we would have versus having a blank canvas for every client. Because what I found especially with virtuals is they are so variable depending on the client’s personal needs, and injuries, and goals, and things like that. I rarely use a template. I’ve tried but it’s almost always slightly different. And it is slightly.
Matt: I found this super interesting. I think you will too. This is part of what I go back to. I want to see how our customers are writing programs and structure it in the exercise library. There is a lot that we can take away from that. With Equinox, as an example, when we first look at their workout program template library they add 10 different workout program templates like four weeks very regimenting I guess you could say for like, “Hey, here is what we think a trainer should do from Week 1 through 4”, just kind of following that process. After a year, they completely rewrote them and changed it based on their trainer feedback. Now, what it is is they go in, the trainer has one week, maybe 2-3 sessions per workout program. And then they build the program week to week as they go.
What we see from the feedback of our customers and also just looking at the data is that there are two different approaches. There is that iterative or agile programming where a program is going to build over time or maybe there is a more strict 4 to 6-week program template that’s going to be written out. I think they both have good use cases that are the right fit. For that more fully written out that probably works well for online training where that super specific what the goal is of that client like powerlifting, bodybuilding, muscle etc maybe kike fat loss. But for in person training it is very, very different. There is a lot of variety, flexibility, and adaptability that a trainer has to have at different sessions. I think that iterative program is probably our dominant use case for our customers that we’ll see.
Maybe a question that we would be asking during our onboarding process is what your programs look like, how do you structure, how do you edit over time. For most of the audience here and the customers that we already engaged with, we have similar overlaps. It seems to be that kind of iterative approach where week after week you’re doing the one to two sessions. And then you are copying those sessions over to the next week, making a few adjustments, pumping up or pumping on the use case of what happened by looking at your notes.
Lawrence: Very in a way of periodization. Because we are far more I would say, I would argue, we are more accountable for delivering double progression or some kind of progression than most fitness concepts out there who are constantly changing things off and confusing the muscles. I say that in jest because you can’t confuse muscles. I hear what you’re saying. We would be very similar.
Matt: Just to go back to the complexity that arises with working with a training team. As a manager or as an owner, there are two different approaches you can take. You can have your staff say, “Hey, follow these templates. This is how we do things.” Or maybe you can open it up as like, “Hey, here’s these options that you can use if you want to use them to streamline your process and get consistency with how we are doing it.” Great. If not, maybe it is more of a studio where their trainers are contracted and they have their own control over how they personalize programs. We do support though and we have their permissions to turn those on or off as well. One thing that I find interesting is that… To me it depends on the experience of the trainer. We actually have some data to support this.
At Equinox they have Tiers 1 through 4. Tiers 1 and 2 is you have just hired them and have just gone through their education yet. Tiers 3 and 4 may have worked at Equinox for 3-5 years or more. What we found is that the Tiers 1 and 2 trainers use the workout program templates 80% of the time. They enrolled the client into it and they made a few adjustments but they are following that template. Towards Tiers 3 and 4 it is the complete inverse. They write their own program templates 80% of the time and they have their own library. They refine and build that out to streamline their own operations.
I think what’s a really interesting question for a team to have is how we are going to approach our programming. What are the goals of our clients? How are we going to best meet those with our programming system? You can make that choice in a team whether it’s like, “Hey, here’s these programs where we are going to follow it to a tee.” Or maybe you can make these adjustments or you have full freedom to do it. The answer is usually something like this, “Hey, it just depends on your specific business and goals.” But we do have the variety to support each of those use cases.
The last piece that I find really interesting is that as a manager in our system with a super admin you have the ability to see everything as well. Often our platform is used by Equinox, or Discover Strength or other customers where they have a full training team that’s working together where the super admin or manager can go in and look at the client’s profiles and their programs and see the history. That’s often a really good learning experience that was often already happening in other areas. And now can happen in our platform where a manager and a trainer can look at the program together and have a conversation about how to program [unclear] the different decisions that were made along the way and all the data is right there for them to look at.
Lawrence: Yeah, awesome. A quick question. Maybe we’ll get to this. Tell me if it’s too early to say this. But in terms of progress and tracking and showing that with clients, are we coming on to that? Shall I save those questions for now?
Matt: No, I can skip ahead. I’m going to the Client Management page where a trainer would be able to see a list of their clients they are working with. Let’s just touch on it really quick. We do two different models that we can turn on for you. One is classic where I’m a trainer and I have my clients that I work with that I don’t share with anyone else. The other, which it’s probably your audience, is open. That means that every single trainer will have the opportunity to work with every single client and has the ability to edit every single program. Open if I am open for… Let’s use Skyler as an example at Smart Strength Austin. Any of his training team can log in. They’ll see all the… they go to the client profile. They can see those programs that they are enrolled in. And then every trainer will be able to click into the program. And when they track a workout it says who did what at what time. Let’s say completed by Trainer A or Trainer B or the client themselves. That allows us for that collaboration I was talking about.
But for the actual output or what the data looks like in the long term. When I click into a client profile you’ll have a few different tabs that are available. What I clicked into is Data Visualization. This is the last part of the full process as a trainer where you can view all the data that you work so hard to get. You write personalized workout programs. You get your clients to come into the gym and track the workout, and track sessions over multiple weeks and months. Now, we have pretty nice data that we can actually look at.
For those that are listening, what I’ve done is I’ve selected a date range. Just 90 days. I am grouping the data by week. You are going to have a few data points that are there by default so the total workouts that were tracked over that time frame and also the total volume lifted over time. I kind of like volume just to show it overall, work capacity.
Lawrence: What does that mean? Reps or sessions? What is that?
Matt: It is sets x reps x weight for each exercise added up. Anyway, just look at the time stamps. If you go down to this graph it is showing every single week how much volume I lifted across all my exercises. You can see, so it is looking back three months from February to March. Those were really low because I hurt my back. And then as I started to feel better you can see, “Yeah, his volume really bumped up and now it’s hitting even better.” I’m getting more workouts and lifting more weights so you can see a nice clean trend up into the right over time. I have data for my workouts going back to 4 years. It is really interesting to see pre 2020, 2020, then 2021.
Lawrence: Can you show us that? Can you make the range? What’s the farthest back you can go? This is actually your own personal workout is it? This is real data for you.
Matt: Real data. Let’s see. I’ll choose a closing and starting date.
Lawrence: I mean, even if it’s just a year or it doesn’t have to be that far back.
Matt: A year probably.
Lawrence: Oh cool.
Matt: Here’s like a full year. I just think it is so funny because you can see and look at a week and be like, “Yeah, what happened that week?” We see there’s one week across the entire year with nothing. It is when I went back home for Christmas and just spent time with my family and didn’t go to a gym or like a vacation here. That’s just really nice and quite easy. I think the data tells a story as it builds up over time.
You can also search for specific exercises as well. But the new feature that we literally just released last week as kind of the v1 were actively iterating and building upon as we speak. We used to have this Data Visualization page where trainers could come in and just search for and play with the data. What we’ve done is the ability to create a client report. Sorry, let me take a step back. After you’ve selected the data that you want to organize you click ‘Create Report’. You have the ability to add a title. You can add notes that would be visible to the client. And then when the report gets created, you’ll have a new responsive web page that gets fed out that can be shared with a client.
Matt: What you’re seeing here I have the client’s name, the gym business name. I have those data points, total volume, total workouts over that time. I think this is a 90-day time frame. You see the total volume worked over time and you can have those specific exercises. I have three different ones chosen here volume over time for those.
Lawrence: We don’t just have to track volume. We can track lots of different things. There is volume that is meaningful sometimes for us.
Matt: Yeah, exactly.
Lawrence: You could do strength for example like weight lifted.
Matt: Yup, exactly. This is just the cleanest, easiest path to be able do this. We have volume over time but also rep maxes for a variety of rep ranges over that time frame. Really this is just our paper concept that was meant to get out to start the conversation and get even more feedback and see how it is used. But we’ve already received incredible feedback from Discover Strength, from Skyler, from Bryce, from the Equinox team that is really inspiring us to build and some very clear directions very quickly. I don’t mind going into detail on that.
What we are going to be building is the next phase. Our customers often have those workout programs like progress assessments that they’ll do once a month. It is a consistent workout program that they do with their clients that tracks these exercises month after month and looks for these nice trends that are upwards for a client’s strength or their ability to use this exercise. Here is what I lifted at month one and now you can see months 3, 4, 5, 6 the progress that I’ve made. The reason that it’s an interesting use case to solve is because we had to figure out, okay, if I have an exercise that I’m looking for a specific data point. Maybe that exercise is tracked across multiple sessions a month. But you just say that for this specific exercise, for this specific exercise program, for this specific client I just want that one data point and look at it month after month.
What we are doing is to go back to the program library. Our users are going to be able to select a workout team library program template that can be tied to a report. And then the training team, ideally, what they’ll need to do is when they track that progress assessment month after month. They will come into the visualization tool. They will be able to select a program that they want to be able to create a report for. When they get to that Client Report page it is only going to have those data points that we filtered down to allow for that nice and clean chart up into the right. I know that’s a pretty standard use case that’s used by a lot of your friends and audience. We are actively building that and we are super excited for it. And how we see it being used at the end of the day is it’s going to be used internally. But it is also going to be used to help engage with a client and ideally help retain them.
Matt: I know that every 4 to 6 weeks you are checking in with a client showing them the progress they’ve made. In a lot of use cases a lot of businesses, you are trying to sell them on the next training package. Now, ideally you have a tool that you can pull out and share with them where they can see that progress over time.
Lawrence: I mean, again, just to elaborate. And then I think we should probably jump into a demonstration of tracking a workout before we wrap because that’s obviously critical. What we’re looking at right now is this template report that Matt has produced from the software. You can imagine what you want to show to your client after 10 sessions, 12 sessions, 60 sessions is to show them how much they have improved in certain exercises. And you probably want to provide a bit of commentary around the percentage, and some encouragement, and some positive feedback, and some enthusiastic and encouraging words, and anything that might be relevant information that might be salient to help them understand the significance of what they are doing so science and things like that.
What we are seeing… Sorry, I’m digressing. But what we are seeing here is we are seeing great visuals like a website, a dedicated webpage for the client with all these graphs that are super easy to understand. They are automatically generated. It means you need no technical knowledge whatsoever to create them. And then you’ve got the text that you’ve written in that box which just comes out at the top. Those are really clean looking reports that are just perfect. This is going to take a lot of owners of your team to have to try and create these reports because we’ve had challenges with that, and just make it easier and better for everyone. This is brilliant. And this is customizable. You are tracking what you want to track and presenting what you want to present. Yeah, this is brilliant. Really impressive.
Matt: I really appreciate that. To be honest this is a tool that I’ve wanted to build for 3 to 4 years. But we had to work really hard in building the foundation of the platform and those nitty gritty roles and permissions, the core functionality with the workout program and tracking. And also the integrations and then you finally earn the opportunity to build the cool stuff after you do all the harder work. It is really a special moment for us as a team.
Lawrence: You mean you don’t spend all your time on promoting yourself on your Facebook page? You are obsessed with your product. That is really good to see.
Matt: We just had to keep our heads down. We might be the worst marketers in the game.
Lawrence: Not at all. You are doing the right thing.
Matt: It pays dividends is the best way to put it. It is really exciting for us. And just to add to that really quickly this is very much v1. We are excited to release the v1.1 with that program, the ability to type program to it, next month. But as of right now we want as much feedback as possible from our users and potentially future or interested customers like, “Hey, send us the reports that you are already creating so we can look at it. And we can have a ton of flexibility for what we could do with this tool.” This is really meant to start the conversation that is already adding value. But we’ve heard just in the last week alone so many interesting use cases on how it can be used that we can’t think of our own. We’re really, really interested and willing to engage in those types of conversations because it allows us to build this into the best possible version that it could be.
Lawrence: Great. A quick question before you get into the demo. I know we do want to go there because that’s the most important thing I think. How do you deal with, how do you manage the balance of adding features and customizations that people want and then not overwhelming people? Because I hate too much flexibility and customization. I’m curious what your filters are for stuff like those rules?
Matt: It is a really interesting question. What we are trying to do is build a system that allows for a high level customization but doesn’t get overly pigeonholed with building specific use cases. Actually to be honest it is the hardest single part about building a software is trying to develop a filter like that. I think one thing that’s really helpful for me is I’ve been in fitness. Even though maybe not working in software on the side for 15 years. I’ve just been able to be introduced to a variety of different approaches where me and my brother are reading Muscle & Fitness, or Dan John, [unclear] back in high school. And then seeing one of online fitness stuff and then seeing trainers in person and big box gym chains and stuff like that.
Oftentimes we get asked about, “Hey, could you do this?” Once you understand the process of here is what it takes to build software and you’ve gone through a few reps to see if you build in this direction and you build this specific use case it may meet this customer’s specific needs but it is actually going to make things harder or more difficult or maybe block use cases for 80% of your customers.
What we are trying to do is develop a filter and also have context to the experience. To be honest something like that gets developed over time and by talking to your customers and always questioning. You have to fight the need to please everyone. Because if you do that you are actually going to put yourself in a position where you’re going to be hurting potentially 80% of your customer base sometimes. The nice thing is that we’ve built a system that does have a lot of flexibility built within it. It has the ability to scale while not affecting the core content. It does have flexibility to get personalized. But we’ve said no. You have to learn how to say no. And then hopefully you are having a conversation like you have the relationship where you are able to explain why. To be honest most of our customers, since they are business owners, make these types of decisions all the time like almost every single day, every single week with their team or with their clients. They understand and they are willing to have those conversations. It is easy to focus on things like, “Hey, here is this very specific thing I need.” But oftentimes it’s just 1-5% of what you actually need. We are focusing on delivering value to 80-95% of your needs. That’s where we spent our time.
Lawrence: Great answer. Let’s get to the workout. Show us as if you were training me right now, Matt. Show us that view and how that goes.
Matt: You won’t get a perfect example here because the workflow that we often see is that I’m a trainer, I’m going to go into your client profile and then I’ll select a program that I’m going to enroll you into. And then you can select whether it is private, which means it is just the training staff can view it, or shared. If it is shared, that will trigger an invitation email to your client to be able to create a password and download access to the program via mobile app if you are doing hybrid or online training. For in person training, step one, trainers come in, enroll in a program and then you see the full program with all their workouts within it. I’ll switch over to another page. Let’s see. I’ll actually pull it up. If you go to our landing page you’ll see the most common use case is if I’m a trainer using Strength Portal on the floor with my clients, it is a responsive web app. The device that is most commonly used by our trainers will be using a tablet on the floor with their clients.
Lawrence: Like an A5 tablet? Is that the size of it?
Matt: Yes. Probably the two most commonly used tablets are iPads but also Samsung Galaxy tablets which is a great tool.
Lawrence: I’ll have the iPhone 13 mini and it’s so small. [unclear] Would it be difficult to use your software on something like that?
Matt: If you are using a mobile device we actually recommend to use our mobile apps which are usable by the trainer as well. But this is for a variety of reasons: if you’re a trainer on the floor with a mobile device training your client, to be honest it just doesn’t look very professional. So 95% of the time our workouts are tracked via a tablet by our customers. I think that actually makes us, if we look at our data compared to other companies out there and other software, I think we might be very unique in that because we focus so much on the in person training. And with the in person training tablet is just a fantastic work device.
If I see a trainer on the floor with a tablet versus a mobile device, one says, “Hey, I may not be paying attention to my client.” And the other says, “I’m focused and I’m giving you the best possible experience.”
Lawrence: Yeah. It communicates completely opposite things. I totally agree with that.
Matt: To hone it on this picture that I’m displaying since it’s a responsive web app, if you go back to the website and you click into a single session with you, it may not make a lot of sense on this laptop that I’m using. But if you do open up a tablet it is a perfect screen size to fit your needs. On the left hand side you’ll have the full workout session that’s been laid out. On the right hand side you’ll have the ability to pull in information that’s relevant for your clients.
Let me go back here. I think this would be a good workout to look into. The workout is not going to make any sense. But the reason I pulled it up is this client profile for a demo has a lot of interesting data. There’s a workout session on the left hand side. I have the session title. I have workout sessions. I then have the exercises within them. You’ll see the exercise name. You have the ability to add as much note as you want to whether it is trainer facing, or staff facing, or just helpful stuff to write for the client. And then you get into the exercise metrics whether it is sets, reps, weight. And then you can add the information that you want to. The default view is going to show one line. But if you expand it you’ll see that you have the ability to track for multiple sets and reps and get as many details as you want along with those additional metrics. So Romanian deadlift – sets, reps, weight is the default. But if you do care about an exercise and you want to track time along with it which is pretty common I think for your community. You do have the ability to add it and track it as well along with additional notes.
Probably the most interesting thing here is that once data starts to get built up over time and you select the exercise. Not only do you have the ability to manage the exercise and to make quick actions that you need on the floor with your clients such as the wading, super setting, moving up and down, or just replacing an exercise right there but you’re also getting really interesting data that’s been built up that’s helpful for a trainer. If I am a trainer that has done 5 sessions back to back, week after week, and Client A comes in. I just can’t remember for the life of me what weight I did last week. But with one click you can pull in that information that was tracked and see when it was reported, the reps, the weight that’s associated with it for the most recently reported for that exercise. So you have an idea what to do for that client for that day. You can also see the historical rep maxes for that client over time. With that, with one click, whether it is Trainer A or Trainer B, this data is all being built up and it is going to be helpful for your training team to be able to pull in and make the right decision for that client.
Lawrence: You’ve got buttons there under the exercises that say “Superset”, “Move up”, “Move down”. Let me see if I understood this correctly. If that is on the fly you wanted to do something like a post exhaust or pre exhaust that exercise you would click superset or something like that? Is that right?
Matt: Exactly. You can add an exercise. You can really structure however you want so whether it is one and two turn into 1A or 1B. Or if you want to do a bigger set with 1A, 1B, 1C. You can program exactly what you need to give a clear picture of what you are programming on the floor.
Lawrence: If you move an exercise [unclear] you change the order but that’s only for that workout, and you want to go back to the original order for the next workout. That wouldn’t be an issue?
Lawrence: Got it. Sorry, I interrupted you there. I’m just curious.
Matt: No. No worries. The thing that’s really interesting is once again this all looks really simple but all these actions if you are using pen and paper and spreadsheets to just do it. We have to build a system that is fast and responsive on the floor in the type of experience which is just not common.
Lawrence: The other issue is taking notes, right? This is probably one of the big challenges for you is if I want to make a note about a particular exercise, or injury, or something that happened on the fly, I can just write that in the little notes box next to that. How easy it is to do that on the tablet. You have to type, right? You have to actually type it unless you’ve got one of those cool little pens. I don’t know.
Matt: I’ll answer that by talking about the system a little bit first. We do have three different ways that you can take notes. Number one, you have exercise specific descriptions that you can have for this is how we do things. Within the workout you can also add what we call exercise instructional notes for this client, for this exercise, for this day like here is how you want to approach performing this exercise. Or maybe if you are writing in the RPE, rest period, tempo, etc. Or just taking note really quickly but it is only contextual for that session. You can add a note right here. And then we also have the ability to take what we call dynamic notes which is I think it is a lightweight Evernote where I can create an exercise note that has a time for this exercise to those clients. It is going to show up repeatedly across multiple programs every single time that that exercise is used for that client. There are a few different contexts that are used there.
For a tablet, one thing that we actually found when we went to the REC conference recently, and we saw some of our customers in person, is that tablets are interesting because they do have keyboards that you can tap on a notes field, the keyboard pops up. You write it really quickly and then you just close it and it goes back to the previous view. That’s why it’s great to see your customers in person. Sometimes you learn things. On an iPad and on an android tablet, you can make the keyboard smaller and you can drag it on a different area so it doesn’t take up the full screen size. Because the default is if you click into the notes field it closes up about a third of the screen. It is annoying to be honest. It is something that we’re always frustrated with. We actually looked into building and got pretty far with building a completely custom keyboard to streamline that experience. And then recently we went and saw some of our power users at Discover Strength and they had solved the problem by themselves by just minimizing the keyboard and floating it to a smaller area of the screen. So it is always visible without seeing everything. And it is something I just didn’t know about.
Lawrence: Did they report that that’s faster than writing it or it helps fill that gap?
Matt: Yeah. I mean, maybe it’s not quite as fast but is it good enough and it’s not going to be a distraction. We’ve tested it. We’ve watched them in person. It doesn’t appear to be a barrier. I think it is more of you just getting used to it. And at a certain point you start to be a little bit more efficient. To be honest, maybe before you were able to flip the keyboard, I was a little bit concerned about it. I thought it was a bit of friction. But with the ability to have the keyboard that’s smaller, that floats, that’s always there, to be honest it is really fast and a fantastic user experience. I’m really happy that the people at Apple and Android built in that ability because they solved one of my biggest problems for me.
Lawrence: It is particularly important for us because we are all delivering really brief workouts so we have to be really efficient with our time. Just aware of time. We need to warm up. Any other parting thoughts you want to share before we start wrapping this one up, Matt. I’m happy to do a part two at some point because there is so much more we haven’t spoken about obviously.
Matt: From a platform standpoint I think we’ve gone to really high level detail here. To be honest most of this is usually pretty customer driven. We felt like a default out there but we want to go where you go and we have the ability to do that. I don’t think I have anything else to get into the weeds on.
Lawrence: Scroll back down again to show me that view of the workout program. I know you did this but just again say… What we have been discussing is what it would look like when you’re actually training the client. You are looking at lists of exercises. You are looking at the various metrics that you care about – sets, reps, weight, and time. And then it is just a very elegant system within which you can really record and change things dynamically on the fly if needed, which is what we need. That’s one of the reasons why many of us haven’t left pen and paper because of that flexibility. But it is clean looking, it looks really easy to use. It’s a really nice user experience. Yeah, I’m really impressed. I think you sold me in that. I think we are probably going to move forward quite soon.
Matt: This was a podcast but this was also a customer demo.
Lawrence: That’s it. Two birds with one stone. You said you’re bad at marketing. You’ve probably reached an audience of a thousand people and definitely got a new customer. Matt, what’s the best way for people to find out about Strength Portal? Give it a go.
Matt: Yes. If you go to strengthportal.com, you can create a free trial. You can start using it. I usually recommend creating a free trial. Just go in there and start playing with it but also schedule a call with us which you will be prompted to do. You can contact us. We have a nice tool that makes it easy for you to schedule with us in a time that’s best for you directly to our calendar. Go to our website. Make an account and schedule a call. Share with us what you are currently doing. Who knows, maybe it might be a good fit.
Lawrence: Yes. Sounds good. And obviously all the pricing information is on the website. It’s all very clear. Great. Thank you so much for your time. This has been really helpful. I really appreciate it.
For everyone listening or watching, to find the blog post for this episode and download the PDF transcript, and I do encourage if you are listening to go to the actual blog post and checkout the YouTube video so you can see the software in action, please go to highintensitybusiness.com and search for episode 367. Until next time. Thank you very much for listening and watching.