October 11, 2018

I accidentally made a startup.

16,000 registered users. 2,000 monthly visitors. 150+ subscribers. $680 in monthly revenue.

This is a story of how Fitloop.co came to be.

Fitloop Screenshot

In 2013 I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from UC Irvine. A year after working in the software industry, I decided to take a shot at creating a startup. Not this one, but an app designed for telling stories collaboratively and privately with friends.

Around the time, everyone was trying to build photo sharing apps, and Snapchat & Instagram were popular and gaining more users. Google Photos Shared Albums wasn’t around at the time, but launched soon. The startup I was trying to build didn’t hit a nerve for anyone.

I failed. I didn’t have an idea that people really wanted.

But something else came of that time. I was back home, living with my parents, struggling on the project, getting pretty lonely, depressed, and unhappy.

I decided to start working out to improve the chemicals in my brain and feel healthier. I looked at different routines online. Starting Strength, 100 pushup challenge, some early fitness apps. All sorts of things came up online. And a strange, esoteric community on Reddit called Bodyweight Fitness. These people had a routine with words I’d never heard before. Scapular Pulls. L-sit pull ups. RTO Support Holds.

I spent hours reading and understanding everything on the subreddit wiki. It was confusing at first, but slowly I started to understand how the routine works, what progressions are, and what Bodyweight Fitness / Calisthenics really is — The art of leveraging your body’s weight to exercise and work out. I thought the idea of leveling up’ with different exercises that get harder and harder and learning skills like handstands was really cool.

But the information was so scattered everywhere that it was hard for beginners. So, I created a webpage with the routine on the left, and when you click on an exercise an embedded youtube videos on how to do each exercise would pop up on the right. And I shared it on reddit.

A simple webpage written over the weekend to solve a particular problem I had. It took a life of its own, I kept making improvements, listening to what features people wanted, and then the mods of the subreddit put a giant link to it on the sub’s homepage:

Fitloop Traffic Spike

I put some amazon links on it to generate income. But, I didn’t make enough money with it to support myself. I wasn’t treating it like a startup, just a fun side project. I got another software industry job, I spent less time on the site, and to top it off, I didn’t even work out consistently.

I started failing again. In my fitness, in keeping up with a side project, and in taking the opportunity that I was lucky enough to stumble upon.

Fast-forward to 2017. People weren’t coming to the site in droves anymore, but there was small group of passionate people who kept returning and logging workouts on the site.

Fitloop Traffic Spike

There was still something there — All the fitness apps that had come out still weren’t helping people who wanted to build skills in Calisthenics. Most were fluff apps with marketable/flashy content, which the bodyweight fitness community mostly looked down upon for not being as effective.

I started thinking about my own lack of progress, why I wasn’t consistently working out, what I would need to do to build better habits and set goals. I read books on psychology studies and ways of thinking which lead to success. I found out that scientifically, motivational cat posters actually work 😸.

So, I started to redesign Fitloop with psychology in mind. I worked for a couple months re-writing it from scratch. I took inspiration from other sites — particularly Duolingo.com.

What if I could make a Duolingo for Fitness? A tool to help people start getting healthier and fitter — Not just with information and videos, but with psychological tools. A guided plan for beginners. Better, more detailed workout logging. A focus on community. And I turned it into a paid web app.

Suddenly, people actually started paying their hard-earned money. Supporting the site and the idea. And best of all, it actually started working for me and making me motivated to work out.

So, that’s the story of Fitloop so far. Now, I’m working on more goal-setting, habit-building tools. A stronger sense of community and support from other members. And it’s growing! 😄

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Shridhar Gupta