Jason Baptiste wants you to run.
He said he’s seen the personal benefits of running since 2009, when he became unhappy with his weight and committed to run a “daily 5k,” something he’s held to ever since.
“Not only has running helped me be healthier, it’s helped my mind and spirit become stronger,” Baptiste wrote. “Running has become an outlet for me to be a better person.”
Despite his personal connection, Baptiste might not seem like the most obvious person to launch a new fitness startup — his last company, Onswipe, was a mobile publishing startup acquired by Beanstock Media in 2014.
But he told me, “Group fitness classes are media businesses” — they’re all about bringing an audience together to watch a central performance (with, okay, a lot of audience participation).
Similarly, Peloton has found success with livestreamed spinning classes. In fact, you can think of Baptiste’s new startup Studio as an attempt to offer a Peloton-style service for running, without selling you the actual exercise equipment.
Studio has created iPhone and Apple Watch apps with a variety of running classes, combining coaching and music. Baptiste said this is designed less for experienced runners and more for newbies who want the health benefits but maybe see the running as painful and boring (which, to be fair, it totally can be). So Studio is all about “turning fitness into entertainment,” while also making sure you get a good workout.
There’s a competitive aspect too, as Studio awards you “Fitcoin” for the time and distance of your runs. (You’ll need the Apple Watch app to track your runs and earn Fitcoin.) The virtual currency gets you a ranking on the Studio leaderboard and can also be used to earn prizes.
The app is designed specifically for treadmill runners, with treadmill-specific instructions on how to adjust your speed. Baptiste said he’s interested in supporting “running beyond the treadmill” in the future, but he also thinks he’s addressing a huge group already, since treadmills are the biggest seller among exercise equipment.
Studio is available for download now. There’s a subscription price of $15 a month or $99 a year.