With Apple's help, former NFL star DeMarcus Ware launches fitness app

Key Points
  • Former National Football League linebacker DeMarcus Ware just launched his own fitness app called Driven to Win (D2W.)
  • The app launches on Apple's App Store on Wednesday and will be available for Android devices in 2021.
  • Subscribers will be able to work out with Ware and other NFL athletes beside them in the app as they do the exercises.

In this article

DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after a big play against the Miami Dolphins at Cowboys Stadium on November 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Dolphins 20 to 19.
Wesley Hitt | Getty Images

Mobile fitness applications are thriving as Covid-19 continues its assault on in-person activities like gatherings at gyms, and former National Football League linebacker DeMarcus Ware just launched his own called Driven to Win (D2W.)

The app launched on Wednesday and gives users the training style of a professional athlete "in the palm of your hands," he said. A subscription to the app starts at $14.99 per month.

Subscribers will be able to work out with Ware and other NFL athletes beside them in the app as they do the exercises. "You're not just looking at it and propping it up; you actually have a subject beside you doing the exercises with you," he said.

In an interview with CNBC last week, Ware discussed Wednesday's app launch and how Apple developers helped him build it. It's first available for Apple devices but is scheduled to be released on Android devices by the end of the first quarter.

Flights to Apple

The former Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos linebacker said he started going to Apple's headquarters in 2019 to study with its app developers, taking nine trips in total.

Ware, who majored in computer science at Troy University, said he was familiar with how to code but needed more assistance on software concepts before he developed D2W.

"Their support was monumental on what I should and shouldn't do," Ware said of Apple developers. "It's not one of those things to where it's me partnering and saying, 'Hey, this is my name.' This is a product that I helped develop."

Ware said some of the products he witnessed during his time at Apple are "years ahead of our time" and that, at times, he felt like he was in a maze. "Everything looks the same. When I walked in there, it was so many times that I got lost in that building."

Former NFL linebacker DeMarcus Ware announcing the launch of Driven To Win (D2W), a new fitness app available for download on the App Store.
Source: Driven To Win

Changing the game

Ware, 38, played 12 seasons in the NFL, nine of which he played with the Cowboys. He helped the Broncos win the 2015 Super Bowl. He retired following the 2016 season after four neck and back surgeries.

Describing the pain of in his early days of retirement, Ware said, "I couldn't walk." He recovered from the surgeries in 2018 and started creating the app that took two years to develop.

After learning from Apple and becoming a certified trainer, Ware partnered with Calvin Carter, the founder and CEO of developer Bottle Rocket, to create D2W.

Bottle Rocket has developed mobile apps for companies like Southwest, Capital One, and its clients include CNBC parent company, NBCUniversal, Disney, and Marriott.

Ware said he built a room with more than 300 cameras to film himself doing more than 700 exercises for the app. D2W can create different "warmups, activations, and a recovery program that is specifically for the user."

"It's using artificial intelligence," Ware said. "The more you use it, the smarter it gets, and the more advanced it grows with you as go along the process. It's like having a real trainer in your hand."

Ware said D2W has augmented reality capabilities that shows enhanced 3-D models and detailed instructions of "how you should do the exercise, the tempos and what other variables you need whether it's how much weight or time and attention you need on that muscle."

Ware added a voice capture feature that syncs with the Apple Watch and is able to suggest workout levels and rest periods based on a user's breathing. He said D2W provides a "personalized experience" similar to an actual real-life trainer.

"The personalized engagement is one of the biggest keys that I was trying to get out of this," Ware said. "Because when you go to a trainer, you're getting the personalized engagement that keeps you coming back. I want that same thing for this app."

Former Bronco DeMarcus Ware on the sidelines before the game as the Denver Broncos played the Cleveland Browns at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Joe Amon | Denver Post | Getty Images

Seeking investors

Driven to Win has three subscription options: $14.99 per month, $74.99 for six months, or $99.99 for the entire year. Ware said he wants to add more features to the app in 2021.

He's also seeking a Series B funding round for roughly $30 million for expansion options, eyeing "acquisitions and other pieces of tech" as smaller firms weakened by Covid-19 could be available to acquire.  

"I'm trying to shake up the fitness space with something different that is not the same content," Ware said.

Asked his thoughts on his former team, the Cowboys, who have struggled under new coach Mike McCarthy, Ware said the pandemic damaged his attempt to establish a new culture.

"They didn't have a big enough opportunity to have that offseason because usually in the offseason, you establish your identity," Ware said. "They didn't get their identity built like it should because they didn't have the time."

Ware told CNBC he thinks the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks will make it to Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.

"For some reason, I'm on those Seattle Seahawks," Ware said, picking Seattle to win. "When Russell Wilson gets to the end of the season, he's a hard man to beat."

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