Absolutely London meets the founder of WELD, the fitness app bringing the power back to customers and PTs
By Abbie Schofield
Having a personal trainer is expensive, right? Then there’s the travelling to and from the gym — why aren’t there more PTs locally? And if you find someone, how do you know if they’re any good?
These concerns are exactly what led Bradley Woodhouse to develop WELD, an app which allows customers to search for and book group exercise classes or personal training sessions with fitness professionals in their area. The location can be anywhere from your home to a local gym or park — and it’s affordable too.
The idea first came to Bradley in 2018 when his sister, who was pregnant with her second child at the time, was having trouble finding a way to book and pay for local fitness sessions with proper instructors. She needed something good value and close by, where she could get the teacher to come to her or meet at her local park.
What is WELD?
WELD, which stands for Wellness, Exercise, Lifestyle, Diet, is like a mixture between Bumble, Uber and Airbnb, but for fitness. As well as finding the right trainer and location for your session, people can rent out spaces in their houses for WELD classes.
Customer reviews provide peace of mind that each trainer is top quality (they’re also required to have a DBS check and can post their qualifications on their profiles). This is all done within the WELD app’s super-slick and easy-to-use interface.
WELD’s fitness marketplace concept may seem like a no-brainer success, but Bradley’s journey up until this point has been far from easy. He grew up in South Africa and after experiencing many health problems as a young man, at the age of 24 he was diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent multiple life changing operations.
“After being temporarily paralysed during one of four brain surgeries, I had to seek out treatment from occupational therapists, personal trainers, physios and other rehab specialists,” he explains. During his recovery, Bradley also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and survivor’s guilt.
“I’d speak to health professionals a lot about their lives, mainly out of curiosity, and most of them said they did their job for the love of helping people. However, they didn’t earn a big salary, which surprised me because personal training and other one-to-one fitness sessions can be expensive. I found out that large corporate gyms were charging ground rent of 40-60%, which I thought was insane but they said it was the industry norm.”
Bradley went back to working in client services and digital innovation at a major corporation, and moved to the UK. But the feeling that he had something else to offer kept chipping away.
“People with cancer and other health problems were coming to me to ask how I coped with my cancer. I explained that I focused on my overall wellness and a maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eventually, something clicked and I decided I wanted to work in the health and fitness industry permanently. When you’re on that operating table, the furthest thing from your mind is money and material things. I thought, ‘I can really make a difference.’”
WELD facilitates affordable and convenient fitness sessions, but it’s not just those looking to exercise that benefit. The app is also a great solution for personal trainers and other health professionals finding it difficult to make a profit.
“UK PTs earn, on average, £20,000-£25,000 per year,” says Bradley. “PT sessions are only expensive because gyms charge between 40-60% of the class cost as their service fee.”
WELD takes just 8%, by far the lowest out of its competitors. “By doing this, we can give the power back to those who are providing the service, rather than those who have the deepest pockets,” says Bradley.
The perks don’t stop there — normal users also earn commission via unique links they can share with friends, family and followers. The user earns 2% cashback from every class purchased through that link. It’s a win-win situation for both sides of the industry. PTs earn a fair wage and users earn money just for getting friends involved.
The health and fitness world has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic, with gym closures and social distancing making it extremely difficult for health professionals to operate. For WELD, however, the number of users is up 44% since April. “For years I’ve been encouraging people to exercise outside,” Bradley comments. “Because of lockdown, people are now seeing the benefits of this and how easy it is to access.”
WELD has also expanded its offering with WELDLive, a free live streaming service. Unlike the classes posted on Instagram Live or Facebook Watch, with WELDLive the trainers running the class will earn money through advertising that appears at the side of the screen. This allows them to provide accessible content while earning much-needed income.
With so much to offer, what are Bradley’s hopes for the future of WELD? “We hope to be at the forefront of the changing fitness landscape. The model hasn’t changed for 40 years and we’re at a point where we can define the future of the industry: making health and fitness accessible, convenient and affordable for everyone.”
Available to download now on Apple and Android devices.
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