“Seamless for Fitness”: How Gudu aims to adapt an old-fashioned business for the Covid-19 era
After 40 years of long term subscription models, Covid-19 forced gyms and fitness instructors to adopt an online marketplace strategy
Co-founders Yahav Gozlan and Ayal Keren created the app together after a chance meeting in Panama. Pre-coronavirus (Covid-19), the two were independently traveling and yearned for a space to exercise in a gym, while avoiding the long term subscription fees or expensive solo entries.
“It was so hard. I had to find someone, a connection of some sort, who knows of an open pool or with access to a gym while I was traveling,” explained Keren. “Every time I came to Israel to visit my family, I had to take out a membership. It freaked me out as an athlete to travel between countries.”
While the concept of international travel might be a distant memory to many of us today, Gudu’s online marketplace can now serve as a tool to help build an online community around fitness and wellbeing. Personal trainers that usually operate within a gym or at people’s homes were suddenly sent into lockdown with no online community to help build their personal brands.
“In the last 40 years, the fitness industry has only managed one model,” explained Gozlan. “The subscription model. The coronavirus came and with it, the lockdowns shattered the model. Our providers (those that offer their services as instructors) are seeking a new model, they’re looking for more opportunities. They are trying to do it themselves, to monetize.”
Users download Gudu and are immediately presented with online classes conducted by personal trainers or hosted by gyms from around the world. The cost of each class is relatively low—ranging between $6-15— allowing each person to join classes on an on-demand and pay-as-you-go basis. Once joined, users connect to a live instructor via video stream who talks them through the classes which typically last between 45 and 90 minutes.
Keren claims that the app offers “variety, access, and mobility” to those who are seeking exercise classes while faced with lockdown, or once the world opens up and they can travel again. When CTech downloaded the app, it appeared that while the user interface is in English, all the classes are currently conducted in Hebrew due to the native language of the initial instructors - a group that Gozlan and Keren suggested consisted of more than 100 people.
Each instructor is fully accredited and must pass a certain standard before being allowed to conduct classes on the platform. This is done, Gozlan and Keren explain, because they “worry about what happened to Uber and Airbnb” when it comes to the behavior of their vendors.
“We don’t want some instructor to show his whatever…” Gozlan said. Keren clarified that only two instructors have been removed from the platform due to tardiness and other harmless acts of unprofessionalism.
Founded in 2018, Gudu says it has thousands of users and is currently seeking seed round funding to continue its pivot to strictly online video streams. Eventually, it will open up again to physical spaces where people can meet and conduct classes in a regular fashion. Until then, it intends to become the online marketplace community for instructors and fitness companies desperately in need of assistance during lockdowns that appear to be making a comeback as second and third waves of Covid-19 make their way around the world.