New fitness platform, Wanderclass, aspires to shake up fitness community
By Anushia Kandasivam January 9, 2017
- Hopes its focus, on instructors, will bring success where others have failed
- MYEG Capital, corporate venture arm of MyEG Services, invests US$228k
[Ed: Article updated at 7pm for clarity.]
MALAYSIA-based fitness marketplace Wanderclass, which launched on 7 January, aims to change the way users subscribe to fitness classes. Founder and CEO Ivan Tashveer explains that unlike other fitness apps that cater to fitness centres by offering inexpensive packages, Wanderclass’ focus is firmly on fitness instructors and users.
Basically, Wanderclass is a marketplace that runs on a pay-as-you-play concept where users only pay for the classes they book and are not tied to monthly plans. Instructors who are registered with the app will be able to grow a following of students and offer classes that are flexible in that they themselves determine the time, venue and price of each class.
“Our focus is not on bringing people to a fitness centre, it’s on creating a community, sending people to people. Fitness centres and studios benefit from their underutilised spaces being occupied,” says Tashveer.
One would not be wrong for thinking that this community focus mirrors Kfit’s approach. And though that Joel Neoh led startup is now pivoting away from the fitness market, into a Bricks & Clicks e-commerce model, Wanderclass feels its focus squarely on instructors will help it be a game-changer. MYEG Capital Sdn Bhd, the corporate venture arm of listed MyEG Services Bhd thinks so as well, investing US$228,000 (RM1 million) in seed funding into Wanderclass.
How it works
Wanderclass matches users with classes conducted by professional fitness instructors. This creates a direct relationship between the two parties. Users will be able to review and rate instructors, which means that the better ratings an instructor has, the more demand for classes there will be and a bigger following of students.
Instructors join the marketplace through a registration and interview process; this is to ensure quality is high. “We vet them carefully and make sure they have certain experience or qualifications before we allow them to be on the platform,” reveals Tashveer who is also director and co-founder of local yoga studio LavaBody Asia and a long-time fitness enthusiast.
Classes are held at both conventional spaces, such as fitness centres and studios, and unconventional spaces, such as parks, rooftops and even unused office spaces. Fitness instructors are able to rent out the spaces listed on Wanderclass for their classes. Wanderclass charges instructors on its platform a service fee of up to 20% of what they earn from each student. Tashveer declined to reveal the starting point for the service fee charged.
While Tashveer admits that fitness centres and studios will not be able to make as much money from Wanderclass as they could have with a concept such as KFit, he says that the footfall they will get from Wanderclass users gives them the opportunity to connect with and convert people they might otherwise never reach.
“The whole platform is designed with the instructors in mind. This is one of the main reasons we built this.”
He explains that though instructors are able to build their own following over years of working, their reach is generally geographically limited. The Wanderclass platform allows them to bring their reputation with them to anywhere Wanderclass is available.
“As the fitness community is our focus, we want to give teachers the opportunity to uproot themselves and go anywhere without their ratings being diluted,” says Tashveer, explaining that the reviews and ratings instructors get on Wanderclass will stay on the app no matter where the instructor goes.
Co-founder and chief human officer Angel Tashveer highlights that there is a widening gap between fitness studios, instructors and their members. She explains that as instructors are usually tied to a gym or studio, they need students to walk through the gym doors. At the same time, there is no direct relationship between students and instructors.
“What would be really great is to acknowledge the instructors by providing them a platform where not only their services are of higher value but there is more value in teaching because there is a connection with the student,” says Angel, who has 8 years’ experience as a yoga practitioner and instructor and is also co-founder of LavaBody Asia.
A different approach
“We truly believe that Wanderclass will be a much needed game-changer in the fitness industry,” says co-founder and COO Chris Baradaran.
Boosted by its seed funding round, it plans to launch in other major cities in Asia, and expand its operational arm to identify and recruit workout venues as well as instructors from various workout disciplines, and develop the platform further.
Baradaran says that by the end of this year, Wanderclass is looking to be in four different countries within Southeast Asia. Launched in Malaysia, Wanderclass will be in Singapore by end of the year. In 2018, it plans to expand to Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Wanderclass’ strategy for quick expansion is aided by its initiative called Cross n Flow, a series of ground events made up of fitness classes. According to Baradaran, while also part of the pre-launch Wanderclass promotional campaign, the events served to validate the platform’s concept, further its understanding of the inherent issues within the industry and build a strong relationship with the community of fitness instructors, venues and students.
Wanderclass ran Cross n Flow in Malaysia from September to December last year with all proceeds going to charity. “It helped us get a better understanding of the local community and their needs prior to launching,” says Baradaran.
Moving on, Wanderclass will use Cross n Flow in the countries it aims to expand to, with the events helping it lay the promotional groundwork for market penetration. “It’s our way of digging the well in each of the countries we go to,” says Baradaran.
Meanwhile, Tashveer emphasises that Wanderclass’ different premise will ensure its sustained success in the ecosystem, especially with the focus being on instructors and a large part of it involving feedback from the fitness community.
“The good thing about having a platform like this is that after you roll out version one, you gather feedback and consensus and find out what is lacking, and you implement steps to minimise risk and improve,” he says.
“Wanderclass embodies the essence of liberation and it's a movement that will push boundaries,” adds Angel.
The user’s version is available to download on the Apple App Store and the Android version will be available in February.