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UpDown

The new application will feature workouts designed by gyms and fitness gurus.

UpDown still wants to help its customers get fit. Starting this week, though, the Madison startup is changing up its routine.

UpDown's app will still do a lot of the things people have come to expect of digital fitness tools — it logs workouts and counts calories. Those things didn't change when the company rolled out an update on Wednesday, but almost everything else did.

Previously he app used an algorithm to generate unique workout routines for users based on their fitness goals. A rewards system offered users an incentives such as movie theater gift cards to work out. Now, the app has dropped the computer-generated workouts and rewards system and transformed into something different: a platform for fitness professionals to share their knowledge.

"It's like a YouTube for fitness," said company CEO, Chris Freise.

The app features various gurus, gyms and fitness brands recommending routines on their own "channels." They create workouts by mixing and matching any of the hundreds of exercises already built into the app — kind of like Legos, except using bicep curls and squats and burpees as building blocks.

Users get recommended different fitness channels through the app's algorithm.

"We've seen this platform model be successful across industries — Uber for getting a ride, AirBnB for getting a rental or place to stay," said Freise.

While there are already apps that connect people to personal trainers, Freise said he believes UpDown is the first platform exclusively for fitness experts to be able to share their knowledge.

The change is what's known in the startup world as a "pivot" — a shift in direction or purpose. One famous example of a pivot is Groupon, which began as an activism-based social media platform but morphed into a marketplace of coupons and discounts.

To be fair, Freise described UpDown's change as a "semi-pivot." After all, the fundamental mission of the app remains the same.

"The core idea is, I log in, and I'm perfectly connected with my perfect workout," said Freise.

Freise said that UpDown decided to "semi-pivot" once his team identified the promising, unconquered territory of fitness-oriented knowledge sharing. The team wanted to create content with "virality," and that just wasn't happening when UpDown shared its own workouts.

Now, there are 23 different partners with their own different flavors and brands creating workouts. Six of those partners are local fitness organizations: Prism Fitness Group, The Fit, Pinnacle Health and Fitness, Harbor Athletic Club, Gold's Gym in Fitchburg, and Functional Integrated Training.

The update went out at around 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

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Erik Lorenzsonn is the Capital Times' tech and culture reporter. He joined the team in 2016, after having served as an online editor for Wisconsin Public Radio and having written for publications like The Progressive Magazine and The Poughkeepsie Journal.

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