A Moncton startup is making waves with its fitness app for those who take working out to heart.
MotiFIT is an app for Apple Watch that uses its heart rate monitor to show the intensity of a user’s workout in an engaging way by using an “intensity halo” to help them meet their goals by tracking their space, speed and heart rate. The app currently has over 330,000 users with over 1.3 million workouts tracked.
Founder and CEO Sylvio LeBlanc got the idea for MotiFIT after struggling with weight for most of his life. When he started his weight loss journey in 2010, he learned the key to losing weight was to quantify the calories ingested vs the calories burned. One of the ways he did this was using a heart monitor to track his workouts.
“But the issue is you have to add a Bluetooth heart monitor to your phone,” LeBlanc says.
Though there were phone apps out there that helped track your heart rate via Bluetooth, they didn’t offer much else. So when Apple announced in April 2014 that it would release the Apple Watch the following year, LeBlanc saw an opportunity and developed MotiFIT
“The whole premise of the app is heart rate training and being able to visualize that in a way that is fun and not just ‘ok I’m at 122 beats per minutes, what does that mean? I have no idea,’” LeBlanc says.
“What I did was figure out a cool way of showing the intensity using the halo. If you’re at max intensity, your halo is full, so you know you’re at that intensity. During workouts, it might add the little extra motivation for you to push a little hard because you’re seeing in real-time what your workout is looking like.”
Because he started the app specifically for Apple Watch early before its release, MotiFIT was one of the first fitness tracking apps on the Apple Watch store upon the device’s release.
“When the Apple Watch came, I made sure to be one of the first apps to support workout tracking via the heart rate monitor,” LeBlanc says. “Then, sure enough, the real downloads started to come in and I was getting a few hundred downloads a day… I basically kept nurturing it, adding features.”
Besides being one of the first on the market, LeBlanc credits listening to customer feedback and improving their experience as one of the big keys to MotiFiT’s success.
“One of the things I always focused on was listening to the customer, really making sure that what they wanted was what I was [prioritizing] to add to the app at the time,” he says. “Just making sure that I was ready so when Apple released an update, I was ahead of the pack. Because if one of the big apps didn’t work on day one, people would be looking for alternatives apps.”
For about a year, LeBlanc has been working full-time on MotiFIT out of Moncton’s Venn Centre. He’s also hired his first employee to help out with customer support and additional development.
“I’m getting close to 1,000 downloads a day now. It’s sustaining and it’s fun,” he says.
“Basically now I’m trying to transition from being a small app that an individual built to being one of the top leading apps in the category. More and more I see people going from Fitbit to Apple Watch. I’m transitioning some of the features so that audience has a good landing spot when they do that transition.”
LeBlanc describes MotiFIT users as those who cares about their fitness and want to optimize their workouts. He says these people tend to be gym goers as opposed to cyclists and runners since they usually have other apps they use, but LeBlanc has created MotiFIT Run and MotiFIT Ride for those folks too.
“The only runners and cyclists who come to MotiFIT are the ones who really care about heart rate training,” he says.
“The MotiFIT user is definitely not somebody who doesn’t know anything about fitness. It’s somebody who cares and somebody who might want to optimize their time in the gym or optimize their results.”
Looking to the future, LeBlanc wants to continue growing the company along with its offerings. Listening to customers has gotten the company this far, so he believes that can continue to take things even further.
“The long-term goal is to grow the company and keep offering more and more services that people want. At this point, I’ve proven, at least to myself, that there’s a market for this kind of thing and that people are interested in this kind of information. I’m going to keep going where people want this to go,” LeBlanc says.
“Being so customer-focused has been very helpful in the success thus far. Listening to what they want and working on what they want has been a big recipe for success for the app at this point. So right now I have a big pipeline of features that I want to do and it’s matter of getting to them.”