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It's just after 8 a.m. at the Brooklyn, New York, studio of "Daily Burn."
The sweat-free makeup is being applied generously, water bottles are being set on the workout stage and producers are tweaking both exercises and camera angles with the lead trainer in preparation for the live show that will begin streaming online at 9. At the same time, you're in your basement, firing up the smart TV and tying up your sneakers. This is the newest in on-demand fitness. It's live.
As workout options multiply by the thousands online, and video streaming devices like Roku and Apple TV bring them into more and more living rooms and basements, fitness companies are upping the ante, and that means offering workout classes that are both live and interactive. "Daily Burn" already had thousands of pre-recorded options but went live with a once-daily class in January, targeting beginners.
"Live is important because it creates the community feel, so that's why we're live at 9 a.m.," said Andy Smith, CEO and co-founder of Daily Burn, one of several online companies owned by IAC. "We're on video, on-demand for the next 23 hours, and then it starts all over again, and there is a community and a movement around doing today's workout."
That is because the workout goes beyond the exercises. There is both a trainer leading the workout and a show host, JD Roberto, who fields comments, questions and suggestions from the thousands of home viewers and then discusses them in a post-workout feed. He continues to respond via social media throughout the day.
"My job is to be kind of the bridge between these amazing fit trainers and the home user who is just trying to get started on that journey to fitness," said Roberto.
"Daily Burn" has over 150,000 subscribers who pay $14.95 a month for the service. It saw huge growth after the live option launched in January, according to Smith. He is considering adding to the live offerings with more shows, but for now considers it appointment viewing. He may have to do that sooner rather than later, as others move into the live streaming space.
LiveStreamingFitness.com offers live classes throughout the day, with several different workout options. Its $9.90 monthly subscription rate is designed to bring fitness to the masses in a faith-based vein.
"Other companies can't touch our price point because we've established it as a cause-based price point," said Keith Kochner, founder of the Tulsa, Oklahoma–based company. Kochner also founded leadership site Mentorfish.com and is an author and inspirational speaker. "We have a lot of traction right now with business-to-business wellness programs and a lot of licensing agreements with a lot of companies. That's become a huge niche in the growth of our company."
LiveStreamingFitness also offers interaction between trainers and trainees through social media, as do competitors like Ballet Beautiful, which also offers live shows. So far, only Peloton, an interactive stationary bicycle with a computer screen, allows trainers to see home riders on a leaderboard during the class and actually speak to those riders in real time.
"The place where live is going to be really important is when there is live interaction between the class members and the instructor," said Seth Shapiro, a media analyst and principal at New Amsterdam Media.
Other big players in on-demand fitness, like Beachbody, are considering live options. The live technology is not very expensive today, and companies that already have the infrastructure in place are one step ahead. Not everyone, however, is convinced that live is necessary.
"If it is enhancing to their experience and their consistency to provide them with a live workout, then we will absolutely do it," said Carl Daikeler, CEO of Beachbody, "but not until we can prove that it is worth it to them and their results will be enhanced. We are not in the entertainment business — what we care about is that people get the results that they want."
The difference between regular on-demand workouts and live on-demand appears to be in motivation and community. On a personal note, I've done both, and there is no question, for me at least, that when someone is out there watching my progress during the workout, holding me accountable and potentially giving me a shoutout when I pump up the volume, I work harder — even alone in my basement.