Gainesville's peerFit connects you to your perfect fitness class

Started by University of Florida students in 2011, including president Ed Buckley, right, and vice president of operations and finance, Matt Redinger, center, working out with intern Denise Robinson, peerFit lets users find and book group fitness classes in their area.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 at 12:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 19, 2013 at 12:57 p.m.

In an office in downtown Gainesville, a young staff team dressed in workout clothes bounce atop yoga balls while typing on their computers.

The office belongs to Gainesville startup peerFit, which recently launched its iPhone app and website nationwide.

Started in 2011 by four University of Florida students, peerFit lets users find and book group fitness classes in their area. PeerFit users can also rate classes and read class reviews, find peers to take classes with and read fitness blog posts.

Ed Buckley, peerFit president and co-founder, said peerFit is changing the fitness industry.

“If I want to check out a movie there is Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango, but if I want to go to a group fitness class and try something, there was nothing out there,” Buckley said. “So our goal was to build an interactive and accessible application. It’s a website and a mobile app where people can find the best group fitness classes.”

Since recently partnering with MINDBODY, a software that allows gym clients to book and schedule classes, peerFit has expanded from having more than 380 searchable gyms in its system to 26,000. With the partnership, peerFit expanded from being a searchable group fitness database to allowing users to book classes on the database.

Buckley said the idea for the company came when he was teaching a group fitness class. He said he wrote on a whiteboard what the class was going to do which allowed people to understand the level of the class.

“Everyone in the gym could see what the class was about,” he said. “We doubled the size of attendance in two weeks.”

PeerFit was then tested at universities around the U.S., including Florida State University, University of Central Florida and The Citadel.

Scott Peeples, senior vice president and co-founder of peerFit, said peerFit tested the product on college students because they mainly use mobile apps.

“They are the lead users,” he said. “So it’s a great market to test any new ongoing product.”

Some Gainesville fitness locations listed on the company database include UF’s Southwest Recreation Center and the Gainesville Health and Fitness center. Users can register with peerFit but registration is not required to use peerFit’s services. By registering, users will be able to log in to save their favorite gyms and receive class reminders.

Peeples said the fitness industry was lacking an app like peerFit.

“This was such an underdeveloped market where no one had never really done this before,” he said. “There was no precedent for us to follow so we had to forge a path. A lot of it was seeing what was happening in different markets.”

In the near future, peerFit is working to make the application more social. Matt Redinger, peerFit vice president of operations and finance, and co-founder, said the app will soon allow peerFit users to invite their friends to classes.

“There are so many people out there who probably want to work out but just don’t know what to do,” he said. “If you actually get involved with a group fitness class and a group of people, it makes such a big difference.”

The app and website currently link to Facebook and Twitter.

Buckley said it’s important for peerFit to become more social and allow people to connect with one another.

“There is just something about working out with other people,” he said. “You form a different connection then you would ever have not doing it. When you look at what the emotional and social sides of working out can do for you, it’s amazing.”

PeerFit is now working toward making an Android app and expanding to more fitness centers.

“We’re always trying to get better, so I don’t think the app will ever be done,” Buckley said.

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