Eric Malzone: Hey guys and gals. This is Eric with the Future of Fitness podcast, and Fitness Marketing Alliance, and this is episode number six, and I get to talk to Casey [Jenks 00:00:11]. He is with FitBot, which is thefitbot.com, and this is a great example of the stuff that we like to highlight on this show, how technology is coming in and changing the way we do business in the fitness industry, and I’ve been using FitBot for a while for my remote coaching clients and my onset coaching clients as well. It changes the game. It saves a lot of time. It’s a drastic improvement on the way that we communicate with our clients and we get feedback loops and I think they’re gonna continue pushing forward and adding a lot more to it, so it’s definitely worth listening to the story, because this is a tool that almost every trainer can use which can optimize their business, and help you get and handle more clients and really take care of the ones that you have even better.
So, get into it, and if you have questions for us afterwards, you can definitely reach me or Casey and yeah, without further ado, here it is, Casey and the FitBot.
Hey everybody. This is Eric with Fitness Marketing Alliance, and today I have the pleasure of sitting with Casey Jenks. He is the co-founder and CEO of FitBot, and I’ll get you into an introduction, but I want to talk a little bit about my experience with FitBot really quick-
Casey Jenks: Sure.
Eric Malzone: So people kind of understand what it is.
So, I guess I could be considered an OG in the industry, and I did a lot of development of what we call individual design clients over time, which were either working with clients remotely, or simply programming for clients, and especially in the functional fitness competitive area. I used to use spreadsheets, I used to use email, and I used to use Right Inbox, which was an app that would allow me to send emails at a specific time, and it was chaos. And then I kept hearing about this tool that was coming around, and it was mainly through the guys at OPT and OPEX, and the old time me was very reluctant to let go of my spreadsheets and my email.
And then finally I made the conversion to FitBot, and I’d say probably after only it took me about 24 hours to get used to it, and it’s completed changed the way I’ve done coaching. I was doing over 20 people per week, which as you know takes a lot of time, and so I was extremely happy to find this application and start using it. That’s kind of my story on FitBot, but we’re gonna get much more into your story.
But the first thing I like to ask people, Casey, when they come on the show here, is what is your fitness story? Because everybody in the industry seems to have some story of how they got into fitness and I’d like to hear yours.
Casey Jenks: Yeah, so, growing up I was always very active playing sports, basketball was kind of my main sport. My dad, super active, so big reason why I kind of find fitness to be important to me was he made it such a huge priority, and he’s 63 now and still just shredded and in amazing shape, so it was kind of-
Eric Malzone: What does he do?
Casey Jenks: Lifts weights a few days a week, [inaudible 00:03:36] couple days a week, swims once a week, plays golf few days a week. But he’s always doing something.
Eric Malzone: Awesome.
Casey Jenks: So, it was kind of instilled in me from a very young age, having that. Started lifting weights, high school, lifted all through college, played basketball, recreationally all through college. Went to school for computer science, so software development, building web apps was always been another passion of mine. So, got a job as a software developer after college.
Met my now wife a few years after graduating, who was a personal trainer at the time, and she actually one day, maybe a year or so after we were together, she asked, “Hey, you want to open a gym together?” And she had kind of got me into CrossFit at the time, so I had been CrossFitting for maybe a year, year and a half or so, and yeah, she asked me if I wanted to open a gym. I said, “Fuck yeah, let’s do it.” So, we did that, ran that for about five years together, from about late 2010 to late 2015, until we decided it was kind of time to pass the torch and kind of move onto other things, and for me that was FitBot, and continuing my software development and yeah. Decided it was time to sell and kind of pass the torch, here I am.
Eric Malzone: Yeah, we have a term for that, because I interview a lot of people like you and me. We call them “recovering gym owners.” That’s the timeline. So, you’re one of us.
Give us the FitBot story. How did this come about?
Casey Jenks: Yeah. Yeah. So, I had a pretty nasty shoulder injury, completely dislocated it, on a snatch max gone wrong, so yeah, dislocated shoulder. Had to get surgery. Went through physical therapy, and I got done, got cleared from therapy, but knew that I wasn’t quite ready to get back to doing what I was doing at the intensity that I wanted, and knew that I needed to progress in a smarter way than just jumping back into standard group classes sort of progressed me.
So, that’s when a friend recommended I hook up with a coach at, it was then OPT. So, I got started with a coach there to kind of get me back to where I wanted to be, and progress me on kind of my goals while also kind of rebuilding this still weak shoulder that I had.
So, I totally relate to the email and spreadsheets thing. I was on the receiving end of that. I would get to the gym. First I would have to find that email that contained that three weeks of training or so. Get to gym, first find that email somewhere in my inbox, and then scroll and find that day in there, take that, copy it, paste it into my Notes app, record my results, have them going along. Because it was a remote relationship, sometimes there would be video involved, so those would get uploaded to Vimeo, wait for all that to finish. Take those URLs, paste them back into my notes, and then get them back to my coach on the other end. So, already pretty time consuming process for me, for about every hour I spent working out, I felt like I spent another half hour kind of curating these results and make sure everything was right there for him to interpret.
I asked him one day, I’m like, “You know, you have 50 of me. How are you managing all this on your end?” Assuming that there was a FitBot, or some other type of program or platform out there built for trainers and coaches to kind of store all this. I was really surprised when he looked at me and said, “Email.” Like, email was his go to. Email and Evernote, essentially.
Eric Malzone: Who’s your coach, Casey?
Casey Jenks: I started off originally with Max, back when Max was at OPT.
Eric Malzone: Max [inaudible 00:07:44], cool.
Casey Jenks: Yup. Yeah, awesome guy, before he started Training Think Tank.
Eric Malzone: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Casey Jenks: Then with Mike [Bond 00:07:51] at OPEX now.
Eric Malzone: Okay. Awesome. Great guys.
Casey Jenks: Yup. Definitely. Yeah, both super smart, smart guys. Learned a ton from each of them, for sure.
Eric Malzone: Yeah, I think … behind all, it’s no secret, but behind all great innovation, there’s somebody just solving a problem, right?
Casey Jenks: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Eric Malzone: And it’s usually your own problem, or something like that.
Casey Jenks: Scratching my own itch, for sure.
Eric Malzone: Yeah. So, I know you’re kind of getting into, but expand more. What is the problem, what is the pain points that FitBot solves? I know, personally for me, but I want to hear what yours, how you dictate that.
Casey Jenks: Yeah, so for the coach, the main pain point we’re trying to solve is just the old way is just such a cluster. You have your spreadsheets, maybe it’s Excel or Google Docs, and then you’re dealing with a lot of email, and then factor in day to day communication with your clients. It’s gonna be more email or text message or Facebook message, or wherever a client can get ahold of you. Skype. And before you know it, you end up with these 10 services you’re trying to cobble together to run your business, and they’re wasting so much time and losing out on so much revenue in the time they have to spend kind of managing all this, versus they could provide a much better experience if they only had to worry about and focus on doing their job, which is coaching their clients. It’s also a pretty bad customer experience to provide your clients with. “Hey, we’re gonna use email for this, and then you’re gonna message me through more email or text message,” and it’s just … so much is lost in the process.
Eric Malzone: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I totally agree, and I’m really enjoying your program. How long have you guys been around now? When did you guys actually start?
Casey Jenks: I founded the company January of 2015, and we launched into a small beta later that year, and been kind of growing steadily along since then.
Eric Malzone: Describe that growth. Where have you guys started? How have you guys gotten the word out? Has it been word of mouth? Have you guys put any marketing emphasis into it? How have you guys grown?
Casey Jenks: Yeah, so we get about half our customers from word of mouth and referrals from existing customers. The other half come from partners like at OPEX that refers the CCP coaches into the system. Facebook ads is a great source of new leads and new customers for us. Google plays a role in that as well, so it’s a combination of a few things, but word of mouth, partnerships, Facebook are the big three.
Eric Malzone: Awesome. One thing we tell all of our clients at Fitness Marketing Alliance is really the fundamentals don’t change when it comes to marketing. There’s certain things now that we just have more tools and more avenues to get our messages out to the right people. Who’s your ideal client? What does that person look like?
Casey Jenks: Yeah, our ideal client right now is somebody that is experiencing the pain of spreadsheets, email. Someone like yourself when you first came in. Maybe you have 20 clients that you’re coaching, and you realize that you’re losing so much time and spending so much energy on inefficient processes and workflows, so we really try and speak to that pain point and say, “Hey, there’s a better way.”
Eric Malzone: Yeah. Awesome. Give us a little insight as to I guess kind of what the current features are of FitBot, and then I’m super curious where you guys are going. What’s it gonna look like in six, 12 months, one year, three years, five years? I know obviously I’ve talked to you in the past, you have a pretty big vision of where this thing’s going, and it’s really exciting.
Casey Jenks: Yeah, I view ourselves as still kind of being in our infancy. We just now put together a team of other developers and people, so for a while it was myself and my co-founder, just the two of us with some help from some outside contractors eventually, but for a while it was just now. Now there’s seven of us, and as we grow, that’ll continue to scale.
The first thing that we wanted to solve is centered around workouts that the planning, the delivery, and the tracking of the workouts, the results, and things kind of centered around that. So, we kind of bit that off first, as the first chunk of work and focused like a laser on that, on making things super efficient. But as we grow, things will kind of start to expand outside of that. So, things on our roadmap might be things like automatic check-ins and things centered around lifestyle, nutrition. We’re in the gym one hour a day, but there’s 23 other hours in the day that are just as important, if not more important than the time you spend in the gym. So, really evolving the platform to encompass that is a big focus of ours, kind of going into this year and next year.
Eric Malzone: Maybe you’ve done it before, I just noticed, but I think in the last six to nine months, you guys have been adding or putting focus on a nutritional aspect of it as well, is that correct?
Casey Jenks: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, there’s some lightweight nutritional tools to mark kind of goals and high level overview stuff. We’ll never be a MyFitnessPal, where people will be logging food inside the app. Hopefully one day there’s an integration, though, where you can suck all that data in to display to the client and the coach. But yeah, nutrition is another big aspect of that lifestyle piece.
Eric Malzone: Cool. Here’s a question that gets my inner nerd really excited, right? And I think you’ll appreciate it too. I believe that services like yours, FitBot, is bridging a gap between technology and fitness professionals, right?
Casey Jenks: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Eric Malzone: Obviously. Fitness industry needs to get out into the digital age, right? It’s part of our mission, too. How do you see, if you had to put your visionary goggles on, how do you see technology changing the fitness industry in the next even six to 12 months, but maybe five years from now, where do you see it all going?
Casey Jenks: Yeah, so we were just talking about this, too. This morning. So, we have a Boulder fit tech meet up that meets about every four to six weeks, so we were talking about this exact topic. With all the wearables and the FitBits and the Apple Watch and all that, we’re recording and tracking more data than ever before, but it’s still kind of not clear what we should do with that data yet. It’s cool I logged 10,000 steps yesterday. What the hell does that mean, and why do I care, you know?
Eric Malzone: Right.
Casey Jenks: But I think that there is use in some of these and all of this data that we’re getting. We could take kind of what we need, and take that data, show it to the coach to make the decisions and piece together, like, “Hey, here’s what this means, and here’s the important gems from this data that we’re getting.”
Eric Malzone: Yeah, interesting. Do you still biometrics coming into a play in this, like real time biometrics? Like people could be tracking and maybe integrating with your platform eventually? Or how do you see it?
Casey Jenks: Yeah, I would love to show sleep is probably the big one that stands out to me. Track the sleep, and just be able to show that to the coach. And if the coach sees, “Hey, you slept like shit last night, therefore we’re gonna adjust your training so I’m not beating the crap out of you,” or, “Hey, you’ve had a few great nights of sleep. Everything’s looking good. Your HRV results came back as awesome. Let’s hit it hard today.”
Eric Malzone: Yeah. HRV. I know what that is. A lot of people may not. As a fitness coach, we need to explain what that is.
Casey Jenks: Yeah. Heart rate variability. So, it’s not just taking a look at your heart rate, but the time interval between the beats of your heart, and after we’ve been in the gym hitting it hard, or maybe we had a stressful day at work, or maybe we got a shitty night of sleep, or you got sick, your heart rate variability score takes a hit. So, you wake up feeling like crap. There’s a correlation between that and the heart rate variability score. It makes sense to kind of back things off on the days that you’re not feeling your best, able to kind of give it your all. And the days that you’re feeling good and your HRV score is high, let’s go in the gym and hit it hard.
So, that’s still up to the coach, but it’d be great in the future to be able to service that data to the coach as well.
Eric Malzone: What are the big players in HRV right now in the fitness industry?
Casey Jenks: I think Polar and Garmin are doing some stuff with HRV. WHOOP is a new wrist strap that is kind of getting popular with professional sports and there’s a lot of CrossFitters now that I see buying WHOOPS. There’s so expensive. It’s really not the most accessible thing to spend $375 on a WHOOP band, but I’ve used an app called HRV for training on my phone. It essentially uses the camera and LED light on your phone. You hold your finger over it, and it can detect your pulse through that, and take an HRV score.
Eric Malzone: Okay.
Casey Jenks: And it’s accurate. It works. And I think it’s $10. You can download on the App Store, if you have an iPhone or Android, and track your HRV.
Eric Malzone: Yeah, I was using an HRV a while ago, actually, when James Fitzgerald was my coach. But I had to wake up every morning and had to sit still for two minutes, which for me was really hard.
Casey Jenks: Yeah.
Eric Malzone: Just to lie in bed for two minutes. So, it sounds like that’s changed.
Casey Jenks: Omegawave’s a big one, which I think talks to a strap, a heart rate strap.
Eric Malzone: Yup.
Casey Jenks: With a Bluetooth, or an app on your phone or something like that.
Eric Malzone: Yeah.
Casey Jenks: It’s come a long way in the last few years.
Eric Malzone: Yeah, that’s an interesting … What other areas in the tech world? Let me ask you this. What do you think the biggest blind spots are for the fitness industry as far as technology? Where are they missing opportunities as a fitness coach or a fitness professional [inaudible 00:19:03]. Is there anything that comes to mind?
Casey Jenks: In terms of tech hardware?
Eric Malzone: Yeah, I would say software and hardware. Things that fitness professionals aren’t utilizing more, right? That they could be. Obviously your platform is one of them. HRV could be another one. Is there anything out there that you think is a big opportunity for fitness professionals and maybe enough people aren’t using?
Casey Jenks: I almost wonder if all that stuff is, all the FitBits in the world, are being over hyped right now. Is there too much of that, and not enough just, “Hey, we already know what to do. You don’t need the Fitbit, right? What you need probably most is accountability, and you can get that with a coach on the other end.”
Eric Malzone: Right, right. Yeah. It would be interesting … We started talking about the possibilities of VR, virtual reality, right?
Casey Jenks: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Eric Malzone: And coaches, having a VR coach and things like that. But I feel as technology advances that, and this is just my gut, that the need for human interaction is still gonna be … it’s gonna be even greater, right?
Casey Jenks: Yup. And you’re never gonna be able to replace the human on the other end.
Eric Malzone: Yeah.
Casey Jenks: Yeah. Your Fitbit might tell you, “Hey, you need to get 10,000 steps,” right? But it’s easy to ignore that, right? It’s just a computer algorithm. It’s much harder to ignore, “Hey, I’m paying this coach $300 a month,” and that keeps you way more accountable than a wristwatch ever will.
Eric Malzone: Yeah, it’s interesting. I was at, my wife’s Brazilian and we were in Brazil, and I was at a gym, and it was just a classic bis and tris type gym. Went in, and I saw these people swiping their card, right? They swipe this card, and all of a sudden their workout plan prints out for them that day. So, I’m like, “Oh my God, it’s beginning. This is it. It’s the takeover of artificial intelligence.”
Casey Jenks: The AI coach.
Eric Malzone: Yeah, the AI coach. I guess what I’m getting at here is that fitness professionals need to be aware of all these things going on, but I don’t think the fitness profession needs to be worried.
Casey Jenks: No, definitely not.
Eric Malzone: I think anything that’s based on human interaction, right, is still gonna be highly valued.
Casey Jenks: Definitely. And I think its place is to augment, technology’s place is to augment the coach, not replace it.
Eric Malzone: Interesting. I love that. Explain that a little bit more. What does that mean?
Casey Jenks: So, getting the right data to the coach to make a decision based on that, but as a consumer or a client, not relying 100% on a computer algorithm to tell you what to do.
Eric Malzone: Yeah. Awesome. Casey, where do you see for you guys, where do you see your biggest opportunities in the next five years? Is it gonna be … is there any subsegments of the fitness industry that you see as big growth opportunities for you? Yeah. That’s the question.
Casey Jenks: Yeah, so we have a lot of current CrossFit coaches, and I feel as that market kind of matures and as CrossFit as a whole becomes more commoditized, there’s gonna be a lot more CrossFit gyms and coaches looking at ways to differentiate themselves, and they’re gonna have to go a step beyond just the group programming, the group WOD. We feel that a lot of them are gonna be turning towards individualized programming as a way to kind of retain more clients. Because right now, there’s that two to four year maybe burnout period where the client feels like, “All right, I’m not gonna progress as much anymore. I’m gonna go look for the next thing.” Well, instead of going and looking for the next thing, CrossFit coaches and gym owners should be able to provide that next thing, which is individualized program design.
Eric Malzone: Awesome. So, if I’m a fitness professional and I’m listening to you right now, A, I want to know how do I get started in using FitBot, why should I use it and how do I get started? But also how do you guys help fitness coaches with, give them the tools to help them show that they are differentiating themselves? Assisting with their marketing, or giving them tools to do that?
Casey Jenks: From a marketing perspective?
Eric Malzone: Yeah, yeah.
Casey Jenks: Not yet. So, we have some stuff in the works there, but yeah. I’ll keep you all posted.
Eric Malzone: Awesome. Awesome. So, how do people try FitBot? How do they get a hold of you, or what’s the best way to get started?
Casey Jenks: Yeah, so they can go to thefitbot.com, and sign up for a free 14 day trial there. They have any questions, there’s a little chat bubble right there on the website, or in the app, and they can reach out to us and they’ll hit our team pretty fast, and we’ll get them squared away.
Eric Malzone: Awesome. I’ll personally put a stamp of approval on what you guys do because it really has A, saved me a lot of time, right? Now I can spend tow hours on a Sunday morning doing all of my programming for my clients. It’s really helped with the speed. The videos that you guys already uploaded for … before I would have to go and search for hip extension, weighted hip extension barbell, right? It’s already logged in there for your system-
Casey Jenks: It’s already there, it’s already vetted by us. We work with Central Athlete to provide those, and we love their videos because the angles are great. They’re short and to the point. When a client’s working out, you don’t have time to watch a 10 minute explanation and deep dive into a movement. You just want to see the quick points. “Hey, how do I do this?” So you can stay in the workout and get onto the next thing.
Eric Malzone: Yeah. That’s huge. That’s been huge for me. What’s also been huge is that it keeps me on top of it. Very little things fall through the cracks because it gives you notifications and lets you know, “Hey, this client, they’re due soon. You owe them some programming.”
Casey Jenks: They missed a few workouts, their compliance is taking a hit.
Eric Malzone: Yeah.
Casey Jenks: All that stuff.
Eric Malzone: Yeah, all of those features are really solid. I really urge people to check it out because it will save you time, make you more efficient, and really add a lot of value to the relationship that you have with your clients. So, boom, that’s my stamp of approval for you guys. Absolutely.
Casey Jenks: I appreciate it. Yeah, we wouldn’t be here without all the customers giving us the feedback and staying engaged.
Eric Malzone: Yeah, and that’s another thing I will say. You can actually, if you are a client of FitBot, you’re a coach, you can actually talk to Casey. That’s what’s most amazing, is I’ll be like, I’ll just instant message you through the app, and there, I’m talking to the CEO, and that’s a level of service that I really appreciate with you guys.
Casey Jenks: Yeah, it’s always my goal to be able to continue to talk with customers. I don’t know how long … We do have a team now that helps out there, so you won’t get me every time, but.
Eric Malzone: Well, it feels like it.
Casey Jenks: Yeah. I’ll always be staying involved, for sure.
Eric Malzone: Awesome. Well Casey, thank you for your time, man. It’s really great, and we’re gonna stay on top of this and keep watching you guys. Yeah. Have a great weekend in Boulder, Colorado, man.
Casey Jenks: Yeah. You too. Thanks for having me on.
Eric Malzone: All right. See you.
Casey Jenks: See you.
Eric Malzone: Thank you for listening to this episode of the Future of Fitness podcast and webinar series. We’re working really hard here to keep great content coming out, and we’d like to express our gratitude by offering you a free seven day marketing crash course. So, here’s how you can claim it. If you go to fitnessmarketingalliance.com/freegift, F-R-E-E-G-I-F-T, and you enter the promo code fitmark, F-I-T-M-A-R-K, you can claim it that way. The other way is you can text us. So, you can text the phone number (805) 619-5550, and you text the word fitmark, F-I-T-M-A-R-K.
So, thank you. Keep listening. Go claim that offer. It’s a ton of value, and if you ever want to get a hold of me, or if you have suggestions for guests, topics, anything else, or if you just want to ask me questions, I always respond. You can reach me at Eric E-R-I-C at fitnessmarketingalliance.com, and keep listening. We have a lot more coming down the pipe, and we’ll make sure that we’re keeping value great for you guys and farewell til next time.
The success that he saw during his days as a gym owner, can now be leveraged to help thousands of gym owners worldwide.
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