March 28, 2013, 4:38 PM — Maggie Perkins was mulling whether to give up her gym membership when she tried out Wello, whose fitness trainers offer workouts through live two-way video feeds. Four months later, she has no regrets about her decision to forego the gym.
"I find that I am saving money and most importantly time with Wello," Perkins said. "I did my first workout from a hotel room and it was awesome. It really feels like the trainer is in the same room as you and it is easy to set up."
[Watch an IDG News Service video of a Wello.co trainer teaching a class in San Francisco, here.
Wello's service offers one-on-one or group workouts. Users need only a PC with a Web browser and Internet access. Later this year, Wello will work on Apple's iPad, and possibly, tablets running the Android OS.
To bring its service to the smaller tablet screens, Wello is developing a mobile application. Wello's ultimate goal is to go on gaming consoles, but smartphones are not on its radar as the screens are too small for a live workout, Silverglide said.
"It's way better than watching a static DVD or an avatar," said Leslie Silverglide, co-founder of the online training service based in San Francisco. "We can absolutely be a core workout experience."
But challenges loom as Wello brings its brand of training to the fitness industry in which in-person training or the camaraderie of working out with others at a gym remains a preference. There are also technological challenges as Wello tries to connect trainers to clients in countries where bandwidth may be limited.
Silverglide acknowledged Wello's concept may seem alien to some, but one of the company's goals is to change the perception of online workouts among users and trainers.
"Right now it seems out there to people," Silverglide said. "Our biggest thing is to get as many people to try it."
Unlike competitors that provide a variety of classes, including dance, art and music lessons, Wello decided to focus on fitness. It has a stringent selection process for trainers, who go through an intense vetting process that includes interviews, certifications and reference checks.
"We are able to attract the best trainers from around the country," Silverglide said.
Wello started off in 2011 with one-on-one instruction, but last month diversified into group workouts in which the trainer and multiple participants can be viewed on screen. Video is transmitted through webcams, and though participant video boxes are small, hearing others grunt and commiserate together can be motivating, Silverglide said.
"What we saw as really important ... was the ability to work out with friends and family members but still be there in their individual locations," Silverglide said.