Mike Lee, Founder of MyFitnessPal explains the vision and goal behind the successful fitness tracking app, which generated an impressive $6.7m revenue in Q2 of 2020 alone. As founder, Mike gives his inside advice to start-ups, including navigating the barriers created by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

MyFitnessPal, the world’s largest health and fitness community, is a platform which allows you to track your nutrition and activity with an overall goal to help you make better decisions. With a community of nearly 180 million and counting in December 2019, they showcased the momentum they have built in a successful 2019 as they headed into the new decade.

With technology in fitness becoming ever more popular and entrepreneurs looking to get into the market, Mike believes that a business needs to understand human challenges and seek a way for their products to overcome these challenges, aligned with “deep empathy” linking the digital and human elements as one. Highlighting that even when this is accomplished, it is not the ‘be all and end all’, with accountability being such a difficult obstacle to overcome.

COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of digital fitness and technology in the industry, with businesses having to adapt to the current climate.  However, with this rapid expansion in digital fitness, accountability will still be a hurdle with the lack of human to human interaction – a customer will likely  feel accountable to friends, family and colleagues but not so much to a computer or device. Technology should enhance relationships and interactions, not replace them.

Studies suggest that in the first half of 2020, fitness apps grew by almost 50%. An increase in downloads across the MENA region occurred of up 55%, the second highest behind India, globally. (World Economic Forum, Sept 2020)

As we turn our attention to the future of fitness, Mike sees many of the changes and adaptations as a permanent feature, beyond the age of COVID-19. With gyms needing to look at their unique selling points to reduce friction and solve customers’ problems as a priority, rather than regressing to a traditional business model.

The biggest question to think about is; can the digital offering of convenience and cost ultimately outweigh the experience of in-person or is a hybrid solution needed to fully optimize the offering?