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features

Fit Tech People: Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro

When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 2

What was your background before co-founding Auro?
I was an algorithmic trader for Goldman Sachs, where I spent 11 years before starting Auro. Since childhood, sports and fitness have been my passion and I’ve played all kinds of sports including cricket, football and badminton.

How did the idea for Auro come about?
While I was at Goldman Sachs, I really struggled to find as much time for team sport and instead took a keen interest in running. I was looking for a coach and I struggled to find a good one that would work around my ridiculous schedule. I had been exposed to the boutique fitness class concepts in London and I wanted to bring the boutique style of training and motivation to people like myself, who need it on demand.

I wanted to build a consumer-focused product that would bring best-in-class training and technology and deliver this at scale with personalisation.

How did you and Karthik Narayanan come together to co-found Auro?
Karthik and I are distant cousins and we have known each other since childhood, having been in the same school as well. He had gone on to work for a bunch of great tech companies including Qualcomm and Samsung so I knew he would be the right partner for me in this venture.

What exactly is Auro?
Auro is a connected fitness/wellness app. We provide on-demand classes in 11+ categories for fitness or wellness for the home, gym or outdoors, with new classes every week. The classes are led by experts in their field – you can train with ex-Olympian Ben at home using body weight or go for a guided run with our triathlon coach Lucy, or just find your zen with Michael in a meditation class.

Music is such a key aspect of a fitness class and most products just make you listen to stock music. We work with our trainers to make killer playlists, similar to a boutique studio class, but if you don’t like our music then you can overlay your own from Spotify, Apple or Amazon music.

We also connect with 20+ devices so you can track all your metrics in real time and really understand your progress with Auro.

Why did you choose to create fitness instruction without a screen?
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen.

When you run, do burpees, meditate or even do yoga, it’s not a great experience to keep squinting at a tiny screen. Even when you do yoga in a studio, chances are you will never see the coach unless you’re at the front.

We do understand that for many users, particularly those that are new to fitness or new to a particular discipline, they will need some visual assistance, so all of our posture-based classes offer video guides which are designed to help users to master the moves before they jump into the class. However our belief is that once you start the class, your trainer should be able to guide you completely, solely through vocal instruction.

Our mantra for users is ‘stop squinting, start sweating’!

How has Auro evolved and grown since you launched in 2017?
We launched the product in 2017 as a video livestreaming product and then we relaunched in 2018 as an audio product. Since 2018, we’ve grown to 170,000+ users in 50+ countries.

We have large diversity in our userbase, be it age, sex, geography or income. We’re reaching a wide base of users and I’m so happy to see that we’re helping so many different people.

We started out with just running classes but now we have nearly 700 classes across 11 categories, with everything from walking, to strength training, to meditation, to sleep.

How do you keep the content fresh and interesting?
We’re recording content every other day and there are new classes being released every week – that’s one of the key value propositions for our members. There’s always fresh content to look forward to.

Since we started we’ve significantly expanded our offering based on requests from our customers – recently we added stair climber workouts for the gym, stress relief and sleep classes for those dealing with the effects of the pandemic, and pilates classes for those with bad backs from sitting on a chair all day at home.

Tell us about Auro’s newest features and upgrades. Why were these priorities?
Last year, we added running tracking for all our outdoor runs so users can track their pace, distance, route and time splits all from inside the app. So when you are doing a threshold run, you can actually see in real time what that threshold pace is and see it improve as you progress.

We have also added integration with Apple and Amazon music so users can overlay their own playlists from these services with the voice of the coach.

These were both driven by requests from our consumers – requests play quite a significant role in terms of shaping new product features and class content for our business.

What technologies do you use to personalise and optimise the service for individual users?
We use recommender algorithms that take user data, their preferences, their previous consumption and consumption of other users with similar goals to personalise the content and programming for the users.

We are also seeing an increasing percentage of users using wearables to track their workout metrics and we’re working on some big upgrades that will allow us to use their wearable data to further personalise the workouts to the fitness level and goals of users.

What’s the average length of time that users continue their membership for?
Ninety per cent of our users stick around for at least a year, with a significant percentage of them staying with us for longer. We’re still quite a young company but if the response from our existing users is any indication, our retention numbers are very, very good.

What are your plans for Auro?
There are 60 million gym members in Europe and 100m+ others who are physically active so the opportunity is massive. We want to grow our subscriber base by 10 times over the next two years. As ambitious as that sounds, I believe that’s totally possible.

COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of digital substantially and today’s consumer is much more conscious of their health and overall wellbeing. I believe there will be multiple winners in this category.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
people

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
people

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
people

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
people

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
interview

Mathieu Letombe

We’ve found 90 per cent of Withings users continue to regularly use their scales after one year and 50 per cent regularly continue using them after 10 years

Refining augmented reality

London boutique The Refinery has created an avatar-led digital fitness offering called ALFI, which utilises augmented reality (AR) to demonstrate movements. Zoe Bertali, one of the co-founders of the gym, tells us more

Jessica Ennis-Hill: founder of Jennis

Jessica Ennis-Hill is on a mission to close the gender data gap in health research. Her app, Jennis CycleMapping, is designed to help women understand their cycles and how to train during each different phase. Steph Eaves speaks to Ennis-Hill to find out exactly how it works

How usable is your product?

Your fit tech product might be a game changer, solving problems or creating new possibilities for clients, but none of this will matter if it’s not easy and enjoyable to use. Industrial designer Nick Chubb explains why usability is key, and the factors to consider when designing your new product

Put on your red light

Red light therapy promises a variety of benefits, including better recovery, skin rejuvenation and increased energy, but is it all too good to be true? Fit Tech spoke to Bryan Gohl and James Strong of Red Light Rising, and Wes Pfiffner of Joovv to find out more
interview

Kilian Saekel

By putting focus on tapping different lights and sounds while doing gruelling planks, you stop focusing on the pain

Adrian Hon

Zombies, Run! is one of the most enduring fitness apps, with half a million users getting active while engaging in ‘missions’ against the zombie apocalypse. Its co-creator spoke to Steph Eaves about the power of story

Digital community

Matt Stebbings of SLT Group talks about the creation of their Community Portal, a new platform that aims to help anyone to get active, whether that’s inside or outside of SLT’s facilities

Funxtion: A vital connection

NonStop Gym, Switzerland’s no frills gym chain, has appointed FunXtion to create its member training app

Monitoring mental health

New technology uses advanced machine learning to monitor patients’ mental health between visits to their medical providers
people

Devi Mahadevia

Facebook director of sports and fitness partnerships
With Facebook paid online events, publishers can charge viewers to attend a video livestream on their Facebook pages or a third party video service
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

Game designers have figured out how to keep people unhealthily addicted to games. If only you could be the hero in a game that levelled up your life
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People's fitness goals are extremely diverse – ranging from an elite athlete focused on the next goal to someone who dislikes all activity due to chronic back pain.
Featured supplier: Uptivo: Individual and group heart rate tracking
Uptivo is an all-in-one digital solution for fitness clubs, fitness boutique studios and personal trainers that provides powerful tools to schedule activities, manage member payments, and monitor heart rate both for remote and on-site classes.
Company profile: InBody UK
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Perfect Gym currently provides fitness software solutions to customers in 55+ countries, servicing more than ...
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More than ever, your clients are looking for freedom and flexibility in their fitness classes Read more
Get Fit Tech
Sign up for the free digital edition of Fit Tech magazine and the free weekly Fit Tech ezine
Sign up
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
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Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
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features

Fit Tech People: Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro

When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 2

What was your background before co-founding Auro?
I was an algorithmic trader for Goldman Sachs, where I spent 11 years before starting Auro. Since childhood, sports and fitness have been my passion and I’ve played all kinds of sports including cricket, football and badminton.

How did the idea for Auro come about?
While I was at Goldman Sachs, I really struggled to find as much time for team sport and instead took a keen interest in running. I was looking for a coach and I struggled to find a good one that would work around my ridiculous schedule. I had been exposed to the boutique fitness class concepts in London and I wanted to bring the boutique style of training and motivation to people like myself, who need it on demand.

I wanted to build a consumer-focused product that would bring best-in-class training and technology and deliver this at scale with personalisation.

How did you and Karthik Narayanan come together to co-found Auro?
Karthik and I are distant cousins and we have known each other since childhood, having been in the same school as well. He had gone on to work for a bunch of great tech companies including Qualcomm and Samsung so I knew he would be the right partner for me in this venture.

What exactly is Auro?
Auro is a connected fitness/wellness app. We provide on-demand classes in 11+ categories for fitness or wellness for the home, gym or outdoors, with new classes every week. The classes are led by experts in their field – you can train with ex-Olympian Ben at home using body weight or go for a guided run with our triathlon coach Lucy, or just find your zen with Michael in a meditation class.

Music is such a key aspect of a fitness class and most products just make you listen to stock music. We work with our trainers to make killer playlists, similar to a boutique studio class, but if you don’t like our music then you can overlay your own from Spotify, Apple or Amazon music.

We also connect with 20+ devices so you can track all your metrics in real time and really understand your progress with Auro.

Why did you choose to create fitness instruction without a screen?
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen.

When you run, do burpees, meditate or even do yoga, it’s not a great experience to keep squinting at a tiny screen. Even when you do yoga in a studio, chances are you will never see the coach unless you’re at the front.

We do understand that for many users, particularly those that are new to fitness or new to a particular discipline, they will need some visual assistance, so all of our posture-based classes offer video guides which are designed to help users to master the moves before they jump into the class. However our belief is that once you start the class, your trainer should be able to guide you completely, solely through vocal instruction.

Our mantra for users is ‘stop squinting, start sweating’!

How has Auro evolved and grown since you launched in 2017?
We launched the product in 2017 as a video livestreaming product and then we relaunched in 2018 as an audio product. Since 2018, we’ve grown to 170,000+ users in 50+ countries.

We have large diversity in our userbase, be it age, sex, geography or income. We’re reaching a wide base of users and I’m so happy to see that we’re helping so many different people.

We started out with just running classes but now we have nearly 700 classes across 11 categories, with everything from walking, to strength training, to meditation, to sleep.

How do you keep the content fresh and interesting?
We’re recording content every other day and there are new classes being released every week – that’s one of the key value propositions for our members. There’s always fresh content to look forward to.

Since we started we’ve significantly expanded our offering based on requests from our customers – recently we added stair climber workouts for the gym, stress relief and sleep classes for those dealing with the effects of the pandemic, and pilates classes for those with bad backs from sitting on a chair all day at home.

Tell us about Auro’s newest features and upgrades. Why were these priorities?
Last year, we added running tracking for all our outdoor runs so users can track their pace, distance, route and time splits all from inside the app. So when you are doing a threshold run, you can actually see in real time what that threshold pace is and see it improve as you progress.

We have also added integration with Apple and Amazon music so users can overlay their own playlists from these services with the voice of the coach.

These were both driven by requests from our consumers – requests play quite a significant role in terms of shaping new product features and class content for our business.

What technologies do you use to personalise and optimise the service for individual users?
We use recommender algorithms that take user data, their preferences, their previous consumption and consumption of other users with similar goals to personalise the content and programming for the users.

We are also seeing an increasing percentage of users using wearables to track their workout metrics and we’re working on some big upgrades that will allow us to use their wearable data to further personalise the workouts to the fitness level and goals of users.

What’s the average length of time that users continue their membership for?
Ninety per cent of our users stick around for at least a year, with a significant percentage of them staying with us for longer. We’re still quite a young company but if the response from our existing users is any indication, our retention numbers are very, very good.

What are your plans for Auro?
There are 60 million gym members in Europe and 100m+ others who are physically active so the opportunity is massive. We want to grow our subscriber base by 10 times over the next two years. As ambitious as that sounds, I believe that’s totally possible.

COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of digital substantially and today’s consumer is much more conscious of their health and overall wellbeing. I believe there will be multiple winners in this category.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
people

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
people

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
people

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
people

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
interview

Mathieu Letombe

We’ve found 90 per cent of Withings users continue to regularly use their scales after one year and 50 per cent regularly continue using them after 10 years

Refining augmented reality

London boutique The Refinery has created an avatar-led digital fitness offering called ALFI, which utilises augmented reality (AR) to demonstrate movements. Zoe Bertali, one of the co-founders of the gym, tells us more

Jessica Ennis-Hill: founder of Jennis

Jessica Ennis-Hill is on a mission to close the gender data gap in health research. Her app, Jennis CycleMapping, is designed to help women understand their cycles and how to train during each different phase. Steph Eaves speaks to Ennis-Hill to find out exactly how it works

How usable is your product?

Your fit tech product might be a game changer, solving problems or creating new possibilities for clients, but none of this will matter if it’s not easy and enjoyable to use. Industrial designer Nick Chubb explains why usability is key, and the factors to consider when designing your new product

Put on your red light

Red light therapy promises a variety of benefits, including better recovery, skin rejuvenation and increased energy, but is it all too good to be true? Fit Tech spoke to Bryan Gohl and James Strong of Red Light Rising, and Wes Pfiffner of Joovv to find out more
interview

Kilian Saekel

By putting focus on tapping different lights and sounds while doing gruelling planks, you stop focusing on the pain

Adrian Hon

Zombies, Run! is one of the most enduring fitness apps, with half a million users getting active while engaging in ‘missions’ against the zombie apocalypse. Its co-creator spoke to Steph Eaves about the power of story

Digital community

Matt Stebbings of SLT Group talks about the creation of their Community Portal, a new platform that aims to help anyone to get active, whether that’s inside or outside of SLT’s facilities

Funxtion: A vital connection

NonStop Gym, Switzerland’s no frills gym chain, has appointed FunXtion to create its member training app

Monitoring mental health

New technology uses advanced machine learning to monitor patients’ mental health between visits to their medical providers
people

Devi Mahadevia

Facebook director of sports and fitness partnerships
With Facebook paid online events, publishers can charge viewers to attend a video livestream on their Facebook pages or a third party video service
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

Game designers have figured out how to keep people unhealthily addicted to games. If only you could be the hero in a game that levelled up your life
More features
FIBO Exhibition
FIBO Exhibition