Move over GuavaPass, there is now a platform just for seniors so they can exercise and bond.
BY: Eleanor Yap
Hansen Lee, 27, discovered a gap with seniors and exercise. On one of a few occasions that he was able to convince his parents to join him for a run around their housing estate, he found out they had not been exercising for a long time, despite knowing the benefits of exercise. They also shared with him the reasons why they had not been exercising – they were too busy and they felt breathless when they ran.
This piqued Hansen’s curiosity. He decided to do some research on seniors and exercising and found that according to the Ministry of Health, 52 percent of seniors do not exercise. He also found that there wasn’t an existing platform to provide them with fitness classes based on their health conditions, interests and preferences such as location. Hence, Fitderly, a social enterprise, was born last year. It is currently funded by Create4Good’s competition, which gave the company S$10,000 in seed funding.
“Fitderly’s mission is to empower the silver generation to lead active lives through health education and fitness using technology,” explained Hansen. Fitderly is similar to GuavaPass, an app that gives its members access to a multitude of fitness studios in Singapore from classes in yoga and Zumba, to pole-dancing and muay thai. However, Hansen explained that with Fitderly, there are also vast differences.
Similar and different from GuavaPass
Fitderly is specifically aimed at those aged 40 and above and its activities include low-intensity activities such as tai chi and yoga to higher intensity ones like Zumba and even dragon boating. “We realised that being from the younger generation, we have unwittingly stereotyped the older generation when we initially scoffed at the idea of introducing dragon boating, windsurfing and sports atypical to the youth,” shared Hansen, a serial entrepreneur who has a passion in IT, investment and building sustainable businesses.
His platform also incorporates the idea of community building. He explained further: “We want to build communities that encourage each other to pursue active lifestyles, regardless of their walks of life. This encompasses working professionals, housewives and retirees. To achieve this goal, our platform incorporates social networking elements where users can ‘follow’ their friends and view the classes they attend, and communicate with each other via a Messenger service.” Fitderly is currently looking at working out package deals for bulk signups for classes, and more schemes regarding the rewards claimable.
Besides that, Fitderly wants to further educate users that just because they may have health conditions, it does not mean they can’t partake in fitness activities. The platform provides information regarding which fitness classes suit which health condition, and the information is verified by In Touch Physiotherapy, a sports and spinal physiotherapy clinic in Singapore.
Hansen shared that one further unique point about Fitderly compared to GuavaPass is that the platform takes into account users’ health conditions before recommending classes to them. When users’ first sign-up and create an account, they are prompted to include their preferred class locations as well as their existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, eczema, etc and the Fitderly algorithm then generates a list of classes suitable for each of them.
“Hence you are unlikely to be faced with a situation where you are unable to keep up with the class pace or exercise only midway through the class,” assured Hansen, who has done pilot tests on the platform with seniors and the responses have been positive.
Still more work to be done
Though the platform is already available, it will be fully functional this month and there are still more things Hansen and his team are working on and exploring. They are currently contacting both freelance and company-based fitness providers and getting some of them onboard the platform. Fitderly has a link on its site for fitness providers to sign up and certificates are required as the team authenticates them and does background checks.
Hansen and his team are also exploring one-on-one classes for those who might want a more personalised service, and they are looking at other ways to reach out to seniors who may not be tech-savvy. One way is that his team will visit community centres to engage seniors who are interested in signing up with Fitderly and will teach them how to navigate the platform. However, he shared, “For seniors who are not as apt at technology, it’d be great to have their families help them navigate the Fitderly platform. Their children and grandchildren can assist in creating accounts for the seniors, and can help to manage the accounts and classes. Reminders are also available to remind them of upcoming classes.” Fitderly has a hotline and an enquiry e-mail if users or potential users need further assistance.
As of press time, the platform has 20 fitness providers and 500 seniors have registered accounts. Hansen reiterated the importance of exercise, something which his own parents also are aware of: “As we age, our body requires more time and nutrition to repair itself. In an ageing population, exercise has been proven to not only prevent diseases, but also lower the risk of falls, improve mental health and cognitive function, and lead to overall improvements in well-being.” So, what are you waiting for, get off your couches and get moving!