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Surely I am not alone in this world being weighted down by the excesses of the Christmas celebrations. I have been meaning to write about Estonian Sportlyzer for a while, and now the timing seems to be perfect.
(The fact that another Estonian startup GrabCAD just made headlines with its funding news is a pure coincidence).
Sportlyzer is an online personal trainer for the outdoor sports, such as running, cycling of rollerblading. It allows users set goals, such as prepare for a race, improve speed or increase fitness level (the latter one applies to me). It creates a training plan, and helps track user’s progress.
Joining Sportlyzer is free, as it is still in beta. Having signed up, I had to report a few facts about myself and my current exercise routine by answering a couple of simple questions. After I set up my own goals (improve fitness by the end of February when the snowboarding trip is planned), the system provided me with a personal workout plan. Today I was meant to run for 75 minutes (as opposed to my usual 30) and skip exercises tomorrow. During the following days the program is much less intense, but is about to culminate in a long run on Sunday, Then again one-day break.
It looks simple, but apparently there are years of research which went into the complex algorithms behind the calculation. Also, sport psychology is deployed to maintain users’ motivation. An important element of that is sharing results with friends (social network integration is included). Friends can either compare notes or compete against each other, and log their performance data either manually or by uploading monitoring data from Garmin, Timex or other devices.
Many more features are work in progress including the mobile app and elements of gamification (badges). The aim is to become a tool for trainers to use for coaching running or cycling clubs, as well as help outdoor sport enthusiasts improve their targets.
Sportlyzer naturally has its competitors, and Tonis Saag, the co-founder and CEO of Sportlyzer helped me spot them.
In the outdoor coaching segment, there are companies such as 2Peak and Quevita (both Swiss) and TrainSmart (UK). Out of these three, Quevita has a social network integration and sharing. The other two offer online professional coaching programs for “masses”. Then there is Adidas service called MiCoach, which sells performance monitoring devices and offers stats analysis, workout planning and sharing. So if you are really planning to run a marathon, take your pick of the online tool (Sportlyzer is the only one which is free) and choose a race to attend.
But should your ambitions shrink as the year goes by, check out other online fitness tools which have nothing to do with the outdoor sports. Those are DailyBurn (US, TechStars grad) and GainFitness (US, RockHealth accelerator company), which should help working out at home or in the gym. GainFitness even has a mobile app with over 700 different exercises, available free in the iTunes store.
Lacking the time, I stuck with my usual 5 km run today. So, Sportlyzer recalculated my training plan to help me catch up next time (two long runs over the weekend). This is another useful feature, according to Saag, which helps to adjust the training plans for occasional disruptions.
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