Malvern native Matt Madonna is getting only four hours of sleep a night -- when he’s lucky. That’s what happens when you start medical school at the same time your groundbreaking fitness app is preparing to launch.
The Northeastern University
graduate majored in health sciences and worked in New York City as a personal trainer with Equinox
. But Madonna discovered a big problem: most people couldn’t afford the service. On average, a starting session with a personal trainer can cost $110 to $130.
"It’s crazy," he says. "Who can afford that? There’s got to be a better alternative. The people who needed the training the most weren’t getting it, because they don’t have that [room] in their monthly budget."
Madonna, who rowed crew at Northeastern, began to research fitness and training apps, but couldn’t find anything that was easy-to-use and accessible to a wide range of sports and workout needs. That’s when he got the idea for Athlee, an app he plans to launch in Philadelphia next year.
"We’re like a fusion of Instagram and a really well laid out fitness map," he explains.
Athlee is a one-of-a-kind social network dedicated to fitness, where users (without ads or a monthly fee) can sign up and find other gym mavens or sports players who are sharing training programs. If you like someone’s training methods, goals or results, the app can provide "a standardized library of exercises," demonstrations and tutorials tailored to that workout, all vetted by health professionals.
The app’s platform allows for as much or as little gym-time sharing as you please.
"You can share your program if you want to," says Madonna. "If you don’t want to, it’s completely fine, you can be by yourself."
For those who choose to, the ability to share your progress with other users is a "double motivation," he adds, because you can get inspired by someone else’s workout, and then show your friends you’re doing it.
An in-app store will let athletes access advice from a specific trainer. Madonna is currently signing up as many as ten trainers per week, each with at least six years professional experience. They’ll help with programs as diverse as weight loss, body-building or figure competitions, or sports from hockey to cross-country.
He designed the whole thing himself, spending countless hours mastering Photoshop on his own to create the platform. Then, something happened.
Seeking funders for his venture in late August, Madonna reached out to the author of rowing magazine story, a former teammate and alum of the University of Pennsylvania
. Two days later, they sat down together, and Madonna got the dollars to move ahead with full development of the app -- an initial infusion of $50,000, with $20,000 more pending -- by the following week.
Athlee will do select beta testing through the end of this year, and Madonna hopes to launch it in January 2015 (prime New Year’s resolution time). The date and location of the launch are TBA, but Madonna thinks Boathouse Row would be the perfect spot.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Matt Madonna, Madonna Technologies LLC