Boutique studios and big-box gyms holding countless fitness classes every day, and a good chunk of these experiences are less-than-awesome. My sister and I – both fitness instructors – sought to find the root this industry's pain. On this journey, we pulled a small team of Harvard Business School and Stanford grads, to make Struct Club and solve this problem.
I was the UX Lead over the course of 8 months, as we went from to prototype and pilot. Struct Club has been backed by Harvard Innovation Labs' VIP program for 4 seasons and the Harvard Business School Rock Center. Struct Club is now a venture-backed startup by Unusual Ventures.
Challenge 1Understanding the fitness landscape
When we started, we hypothesized that poor management was the root of classes' issues. But we wanted to take a human-centered approach to have a genuine understanding of the dynamic from the gym manager, to the instructor, to the members.
I travelled to fitness conventions, big box gyms, and boutique studios to both lead and participate in interviews.
I kept research to understand where the root of group fitness classes' problems started. Here is where CEO and I discovered it lay in the hands of the instructors.
I conducted value tests to determine what fitness instructors needed the most.
I created a deck of theoretical product solutions for instructors'. I analyzed instructors' responses to understand the difference between what they truly needed, and what were nice-to-haves.
- I created personas and narrowed MVP needs using this research.
We met various instructors, new and old, who spin, bootcamp, barre, etc. Our personas came down to "Newbie" instructors, who are just beginning their fitness career, and "Master Trainers", who lead certifications and are influencers in the space. While we knew there was a third persona – the comfortable, seasoned instructor – based on research, we decided it wasn't the priority.
As spin classes' popularity has been grown in the past decade, our initial personas and MVP focused on spin instructors.
Challenge 2How complicated is planning & teaching an (awesome) fitness class?
User Pain Points:
Instructors re-invent every class, and retain no history of what they've taught. And even if they keep notebooks of content, they run out of ideas for good music and exercises. Despite having endless online resources, these influencers can find music/workout content, but can't find content for their teaching style. And to top everything off – they can’t remember what they planned to teach.
Create & plan classes, search for music that fits instructors' needs & styles, and share & source class plans with other instructors.
Wireframes: Create Class Plan
Wireframes: Add/Edit Stage
Wireframes: Search/World Library
Challenge 3Smooth Out the Experience: User Testing and Pilot
From Schwinn Master Trainers to local YMCA instructors, we tested Struct Club with instructors for planning and teaching their real-life classes. Our initial MVP had baseline class plan functionality in order for us to see what users truly needed, then iterated on that prototype.
Class Plan Details
Our initial MVP just allowed users to import a playlist via Spotify Premium (also pulls BPM data) and assign exercises to each song. We learned users needed more than just a list of their songs and exercises. They required notes to give context as to what they created in the first place, as well as time stamps and durations to remember what exercise happens when. That way, they can nail that beat drop.
We learned the need for an in-class teaching function was essential. Users having to switch from streaming via Spotify to viewing their plan in Struct Club wasn't simple. With most instructors using Spotify, they often risked scrolling through their plan and accidentally changing songs and ruining their class flow. We learned from our first round of testing that, with your phone placed on a bike's handles and in a dark room, legibility became difficult. So we created our UI to have large text on dark screens for that comfort.
As of June 2018, Struct Club became a venture-backed startup by Unusual Ventures.
Struct Club has launched a pilot with Schwinn and their recently-certified instructors. In its next steps, the platform will allow instructors to easily source and share content with each other, become better teachers and greater strengthen their communities.