TECH entrepreneur James Jameson had just come off the tennis court when he thought of an idea to change the way Londoners keep fit and healthy.
And while exercise is often credited with clearing the mind and boosting efficiency, it wasn’t a gruelling set of serve/volleys that got the creative juices flowing, rather the gruelling process of getting on the court.
A few months paternity leave ahead of the birth of his second child left him plenty of time to indulge his passion for keeping fit through personal training, tennis and yoga, or so he thought.
“It had taken me ages to find a good tennis coach in my area, and then when I found him, it was ridiculously difficult to sync our diaries and keep up regular sessions,” he says.
“I was booking yoga using all these studio apps and trying to keep track of all the passwords, paying membership fees at the gym, and it all seemed far more complex than it needed to be.”
Like most people who have found success through tech over the last 10 years, James realised the answer lay, of course, in an app.
RISE is an on-demand fitness and wellbeing app that allows you to book hundreds of local fitness and wellbeing sessions and classes without any subscriptions or memberships.
Users can book anything from bootcamp sessions at the local park to super-slick spin classes at boutique studios to time on the tennis court through the app, which cuts out restrictive membership fees and manages a variety-packed fitness timetable in one place.
James worked with a couple of key investors to design and develop the app over “a whirlwind six months”, drawing from previous experience overseeing marketing campaigns for health and beauty treatment booking app Treatwell and online department store for independents Not On The High Street.
The first line of code for RISE was written on 1 January and it was launched in the app store on 1 April, rolling out in City earlier this month.
“There’s so much variety in the City so we’ve really tried to cover the full range and we’ve now got just over 100 signed up,” James says. “There’s the big names like 1Rebel, Blok and MoreFit but we’ve also got some lesser known places like a tennis court behind Liverpool Street station, which you can now book exclusively on RISE.”
If you’re thinking this all sounds a lot like boutique fitness subscription service Class Pass, then you’d be right, sort of.
“Class Pass is one of the most disruptive products in the health and fitness industry this decade,” James says.
“The fitness industry has been growing year on year by about 5%, and the majority of that is being driven by low-no contracts,” he explains.
“There is a latent demand for better purchasing power; how we spend our money and where we spend it.”
He says he isn’t concerned by the competition (Class Pass has made more than 30million reservations for classes in 37 countries since 2011) pointing out one key difference in the two business models.
“It has done incredibly well, but users are still restricted in the sense of there being a subscription. There’s a monthly fee, no matter if you use the service or not, you’re limited to the number of visits you’re allowed per studio.
“For me it’s about removing any limits in the pursuit of fitness and wellbeing – ‘I don’t have the time, I don’t have the cash, I don’t have the information’ – removing all of that and making things as simple as possible.”