Fitness Studio Automation: IoT System

How Velvetech helped Runner’s High Studio elevate their clients' experience with web & mobile technologies

Runner’s High Studio is Chicago’s first automated running studio with smart treadmills that adjust to every runner based on his or her personal characteristics.

Runner’s High Studio

The company’s unique approach to running, clever use of technology, and zealous instructors have positioned Runner’s High Studio as an exceptional studio for runners of all strides, leaving competition far behind.

THE CASE

Jeff Levy, a runner-enthusiast, was looking for a way to make running more appealing to his friends and colleagues. Jeff knew that group running was a good start if pace discrepancy could be addressed.

And so the idea of a running studio with smart, connected treadmills and programmable running classes came to life. Velvetech joined Jeff as a technology partner, with experience in IoT development.

Uniqueness of Running Experience in Studio

From his personal experience, Jeff Levy knew that most fitness studios and gyms relied on a lot of tedious manual tasks to operate. So besides making running the focus of his own studio, Jeff also decided to automate all processes as much as possible.

This could let the startup better engage its early customers and lower the administrative costs.

Runner’s High Studio: Uniqueness of Running Experience

The Client’s Request

After analyzing Jeff’s goals, we identified several components that would contribute to the automation process at Runner’s High Studio:


How We Did It

Our focus on this project was to make all these pieces work together without overcomplicating the existing processes. Fortunately, we had enough experience in IoT development to make things work.

Consumer Website

Our team started by developing a custom eCommerce website for clients. The site lets them learn about the running classes, see the schedule for the current week, or book a spot on a class.

To personalize their running experience clients have their own profiles where they specify their personal data like age, gender, height, etc. This data is then processed to adjust running exercises for each client individually by calculating their baseline speed.

Fitness Studio Automation: Consumer Website

A client profile is also where clients can review all their training performance stats from the previous running classes.

Owner Web App

The web app managed by Jeff and company’s personnel is the core piece of the fitness studio automation. This is where all parts of a successful running session originate: clients, instructors, workouts, classes, treadmills, etc.

Our team chose to use Umbraco CMS to speed up the development of the owner web app. This open source Microsoft ASP.NET content management system aligned pretty well with the rest of Microsoft technologies used on the project, such as IIS and .Net Core.

Fitness Studio Automation: Owner Web App

The web app connects all other parts of the studio automation framework via an API: the consumer website, the CMS for reporting, the mobile apps, and the Vantiv POS for processing payments on the counter.

Treadmill App

To fine-tune every single running workout to individual client characteristics, all treadmills need to be able to run a custom workout that would take into account the client’s personal details. The treadmill iPhone app serves this very purpose.

The app loads the client’s data to the treadmill before the class starts, and once it’s finished, the app gathers the stats on the client’s performance and sends them to the server.

Check-in App

The check-in app was originally just a mobile-optimized web page, but since iOS apps provide far better user experience compared to mobile web pages, it was decided to develop a standalone mobile app for this purpose.

The check-in app offers a convenient way for the client to check in for a class in the reception area. They just enter their personal code into the iPad app on the counter to confirm their attendance.

Fitness Studio Automation: Check-in App

CRM System

As all startups, Runner’s High Studio was looking for not only the most effective way of blending technology with their business — they were also after the most cost-effective way to do so. So when we tackled the necessity of dashboards with reports on different classes, revenue, etc. we immediately came forward with bpm’online.

Fitness Studio Automation: CRM Solution

This CRM and BPM platform is easy to customize and set up in a way that speaks to your business needs. We set up a bpm’online instance for the studio with dashboards for workouts, classes, revenue, etc.

Velvetech is a recognized bpm’online development partner, and so setting up the owner web app to synch with the bpm’online CRM instance went smoothly.


Challenges

One of the major challenges we faced on the project was the lack of the web API for the treadmills that Runner’s High Studio owned. The only way to transfer data to or from a treadmill is a Bluetooth connection.

To address that, we developed an IoT mobile app for iOS that connected to a treadmill via Bluetooth and transferred data between the treadmill and the server.

Another point where we had to show our best was setting up the logic on the consumer website and synching it with the owner web app so that:

The biggest challenge though proved the fact that we had our QA engineer test the entire process from A to Z, including running on the treadmill.

The API for connecting to treadmills via Bluetooth was scarce, and so we had to double check everything ourselves. Despite all automation running remained the hardest challenge in this project.

Technologies Used

  • Microsoft ASP.NET
  • .NET Core
  • Umbraco CMS
  • IIS
  • iPhone/iPad
  • Vantiv POS
  • BLE
  • bpm’online CRM

Outcome

Runner’s High Studio sets high standards for all the rest running studios in Chicago, being the first to automate its processes in a meaningful way. The studio’s clients get highly personal experience and focus on the running while algorithms and custom software takes care of the rest.

Runner’s High Studio Automation

Velvetech has been an amazing partner for me. As a startup we are constantly having to think outside the box and fast. Their 24-hour support is amazing and everyone is thorough and great to work with.

Velvetech has proved invaluable in helping us create a product that did not exist and figuring out all the minor details that would go along with the software. They are innovative, smart, and agile. As a startup founder, I can report that their comprehensive service will absolutely get you from business plan to a functioning company.

I plan to expand and would not think of using anyone else. Velvetech has supported and grown with my company, and I will always appreciate that.

Jeffrey Levy

Founder, Runners High Studio

What Now

Velvetech keeps providing maintenance and support services to Runner’s High Studio as the studio keeps conquering the fitness landscape in Chicago.

There are plans to expand the developed system beyond Runner’s High Studio, to hotels and apartment complexes that host mini gyms with treadmills. Velvetech will be responsible for integrating the solution with new types of treadmills and hotel’s websites.

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