Enter Wello. The site, which launches on Wednesday, offers discounted personal training sessions with trainers via two-way live video chat. From top-tier celebrity trainers (up to $150 an hour) to lesser-known trainers ($5 an hour and up), Wello offers a range of fitness experts to get you into shape for a reasonable price while never leaving your home. No downloads or special software needed; all you need is a laptop, webcam and Internet connection.
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Cofounders Leslie Silverglide and Ann Plante founded the company while at an incubator program at AOL.
"We saw there was an opportunity for people to workout that would fit in their schedule and be motivating," Silverglide said.
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We wondered about the difference between a $5 and a $150 trainer (review coming next week). But Wello cofounders Ann and Leslie assured us that every trainer goes through a vetting process. They have a staff member who is a personal trainer herself and makes sure every trainer is properly certified and experienced. Then, the trainers must take a course on "how to train via video chat." Basically, they need to be more descriptive and demonstrative when it comes to training via chat, and get closer to the screen.
Personal training sessions can be bought in 25, 40, and 55 minutes. Currently, there are more than 150 trainers registered with the site. The trainers set the prices for their sessions, with Wello taking a 15% cut which is much less, say the cofounders, than what gyms and studios charge -- up to 80%. And the web, they say, is a great place to get a bargain on a trainer.
"We find they typically drop their prices by 50% online," Silverglide said.
The biggest question they get about their site is, "How effective is training via video chat?"
Training via live video chat holds exercisers to a higher level of accountability than at-home workout programs, or even working out at the gym with a trainer, they say. When it's just you and the trainer at home, there are no distractions, like there are at the gym.
"One thing we've heard from fitness professionals is that people are more engaged online," Plante said.
Plante said that, unlike following along to a workout video at home, with Wello you can get the personal guidance of a trainer who can customize the workouts based on your level of fitness and hold you accountable to working out. Customers of Wello can chose from personalized yoga, pilates, martial arts or strength training sessions.
When Silverglide and Plante began working on the idea for Wello, they asked some trainers to give them sessions via video chat to see how well it worked. (Note: They discovered that the best position for your laptop is about two feet off the ground -- perfect couch height -- and then back away about seven feet so the instructor can see if you're doing the moves correctly.) After each video training session, they said they were exhausted from the excellent workout. Once they realized that training using video chat was successful, they began developing Wello.
In the future, they plan to offer training sessions for groups (just imagine that major discount!), and expand their video services to other health and wellbeing practitioners, like nutrition counseling via video chat. During the holidays, they'll launch special promotions to encourage group fitness for, say, you and your mom who lives across country.
For trainers, Wello offers an extra way to grow their business. It's currently free for trainers, but eventually they will charge $20 per month for trainers to use the site.
Would you use a personal trainer via video chat? Tell us in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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