Finding the right personal trainer is a lot like dating.
Some of us are looking for something strictly casual: meeting up after work on occasion for some new exercises and an extra push of motivation. Others want a deep-seated, long-term commitment: someone to talk about dreams and aspirations with, to work alongside and reach lifelong fitness goals.
Odds are, your perfect match isn’t the trainer who just happens to work at your gym.
RightFit Personal Training, a Chicago-based marketplace for personal trainers, takes a page from the online dating playbook. The startup uses surveys filled out by consumers to match them with a potential trainer.
“For some people, personal training can be like a therapy session,” said founder Matthew Kornblatt. “Some use their sessions to talk about their days and what they’re stressed out about. And some trainers are better than others at dealing with that.”
The training survey covers questions about fitness goals and trainer personality preferences, as well as logistical questions like where they want to train, what their budget is and whether they have a gender preference. Once the customer has filled out a survey, the startup may contact them with additional questions.
If you really wanted to make an Uber or Tinder for personal training, it wouldn’t work.”
Once the match has been made, RightFit offers a range of package options, from 30-minute group sessions to hour-long one-on-ones.
For trainers, said Kornblatt, RightFit offers an opportunity to build out their client lists and stand out in a crowded marketplace.
“A lot of trainers are great at personal training, but they don’t want to have to deal with marketing and advertising themselves,” he said. “And many don’t like to deal with billing, scheduling and payment processing, which we also take care of.”
Kornblatt said RightFit also lowers the bar for consumers to try out a new trainer, because the packages purchased through the platform are fully transferable.
“The vast majority of our clients, however, stick with the same trainer and purchase multiple packages to keep working with them,” said Kornblatt. “We see that as an indication that our matching is pretty efficient.”
In RightFit’s early days, Kornblatt sought to make that matching process on demand and entirely algorithmic. But after experimenting with a few different approaches, he found that a blend of technology and human touch worked best.
“If you really wanted to make an Uber or Tinder for personal training, it wouldn’t work,” said Kornblatt. “A lot of people want someone to work with for the long haul who can see them toward their goals. That’s difficult to accomplish when jumping from trainer to trainer.”
In its current iteration, RightFit has been around since 2014. Kornblatt said the marketplace lists hundreds of trainers in Chicago and a growing network in cities like Houston, Austin, Denver and New York City.
The bootstrapped startup is also in the process of building out special offerings for the corporate wellness market.