New RunKeeper Features Aim To Bring the Fitness Class Experience To Your Phone

10/7/10Follow @xconomy

Since 2008, RunKeeper, the fitness-tracking, GPS-based mobile app from Boston-based startup FitnessKeeper, has helped runners log and track the distance, speed, and routes they’ve run and engage with a broader community of like-minded athletes. The “pro” $9.99 version of the tool even offers coaching via headphones to help runners hit their desired pace, understand how far they’ve gone, and mix up their speeds for interval workouts, all as their feet hit the pavement.

But now, the company is moving even further into an area that has traditionally been occupied by real, live fitness professionals, by offering mobile training plans and fitness classes

“We’re grouping them together almost like an SAT class or a spinning class at the gym and are trying to tap into that same psychology—but virtually, where you all collectively go after the same goal,” says FitnessKeeper founder and CEO Jason Jacobs. “What we envision is that these classes will become such a powerful motivator that they recreate the benefits of an in-person class, where you’re motivated by the energy in the room.”

The startup put out the first set of such classes on its store late last week, with 5K and half-marathon training plans designed by Olympian runner Jeff Galloway. Jacobs says already several hundred users have signed up. Those who purchase the classes—which range from $9.99 to $19.99—will have the set of runs designed by Galloway populate their RunKeeper calendars. They also will be sent an alert that notifies them which distance they are supposed to run each day. When they physically go out for a jog, they can flag that they are completing a particular run as called for in the training guide. They’ll also be connected to others in the RunKeeper community who are training under the same program.

“The plan is to roll them out in such a way so that if you have a race at a certain time it can follow your schedule,” Jacobs says. And speaking of races, FitnessKeeper has also made that a more prominent part of the user experience. Weeks before it rolled out the classes, it introduced a race page section of the site, where users can search for races based on distance and location, and connect with other runners in the RunKeeper community looking to do the same race. And the company hasn’t spent a marketing dime to attract this information, but has crowdsourced the content, relying on the RunKeeper community to submit races on their radar.

With the features introduced in the past month, the big focus is streamlining the entire process of running, racing, and training, Jacobs says. “Runners don’t just track their activities, but they participate in races and follow a lot of training programs,” he says.

And typically, this entire process is fragmented, he says. Runners research and sign up for races in one place, scout out and follow training programs in … Next Page »

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