Before the pandemic hit Paul Wanford’s business was keeping people fit and healthy through his stable of personal trainers, The Fitness Team, running out of Cheltenham’s Prince of Wales Stadium.
Social restrictions all but shut it down almost overnight and he had to watch as the nation instead made a household name out of online fitness guru Joe Wicks or decided to sit the pandemic out.
It was all the encouragement the Cheltenham-based, former University of Gloucestershire student needed to finish developing a new addition to his business – his own health, wellbeing and fitness app.
Mr Wanford’s Xerlife, which personalises fitness and diet for users, already has subscribers both inside and outside Gloucestershire and is jostling for position in the race for a share of a fitness app market growing by the day.
According to the World Economic Forum in September 2020, the global downloads of such apps increased by 46 per cent – with the market then valued at the time as $4.4 billion.
‘I was running The Fitness Team with 12 trainers and was very busy. We were based at the Prince of Wales Stadium (Tommy Taylors Lane, Cheltenham), but it was closed due to Covid and we have not been able to operate since 17 March 2020.
‘I managed to keep the coaching side going on a limited basis with a number of clients who wanted to continue to work with me, but I also knew this was my opportunity to work on Xerlife,’ said Mr Wanford, 40, who explained that as lucrative as the market might be for such apps which could win market share, his model was priced to be available to as many people as possible.
‘It’s not about charging as much as I can and locking people into a contract, it is about inclusivity, delivering at a price that encourages everyone to give it a go – and I hope that as this is a Gloucestershire business, that will mean something too.’
Users pay a small subscription to access the technology which does not just encourage users to get physically fit, but captures dietary and sleeping habits to help users manage their overall wellbeing and track progress.
It also gives access to instructional videos, recipe suggestions, dietary tips and motivational ideas to help them use the information to deliver results – no matter what level of fitness they aim to achieve.
By Andrew Merrell