Digital fitness platform Balanced is launching out of beta Monday, aiming to provide exercise and fitness content tailored to seniors.
For $20 a month, Balanced offers unlimited access to on-demand and live fitness classes. When users sign up, they can input information about injuries, pain points, illnesses and personal goals, and they’ll be recommended a video series geared toward their needs. The company’s offerings are also reviewed and vetted by a physical therapist.
Balanced CEO Katie Reed said the focus on the senior market is important. Other more general virtual fitness options are geared toward a younger and healthier population, where a customer’s osteoporosis or chronic conditions might not be considered.
And she argues the current senior-focused fitness classes aren’t very appealing.
“When looking at some other websites that are trying to tackle the older adult space, they treat it like a prescription or like medicine. And the website will say, ‘Gosh, you know, 30% of you will have muscle loss this year, when are you going to fall?’ Why would I want my grandmother to land on a site like that?” Reed told MobiHealthNews.
“It definitely hasn’t inspired her. It’s more like fear mongering.”
Balanced was cofounded last year by Reed and COO Kelly Froelich, both former engineers at direct-to-consumer virtual-care company Ro. They launched a pilot in independent living communities in the fall of 2020, and raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding from Primary Venture Partners and angel investors from companies including ClassPass, Ro, CityBlock and Stack Overflow earlier this year.
Reed said the company is starting on a direct-to-consumer path, but it aims to eventually distribute its program via Medicare Advantage plans.
“It makes sense with healthcare. I mean, for us, it could be different, but again, keeping my grandmother out of an online PT appointment, without needing that telemedicine appointment,” she said. “That’s what Balanced is all about, prevention and reducing injury.”
WHY IT MATTERS
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says regular physical activity is an important component to health for older adults, but chronic conditions and injuries can make exercise more difficult.
Nearly 86% of adults 65 and older have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cancer or arthritis, and 56% have two or more.
Osteoporosis, a disease that causes the weakening of bone tissue, bone structure and strength, could also affect exercise and fitness for older adults. While exercise can improve bone health, the disease also increases the risk of fractures.
THE LARGER TREND
At-home and virtual-fitness offerings became more mainstream during the pandemic as gyms closed and customers tuned to digital classes or connected devices.
Some big players in the digital fitness space include Peloton, Amazon, Apple and even Facebook, with its Oculus virtual reality headset. Workout options geared toward older adults include SilverSneakers and Silver&Fit.
After the launch, Reed said Balanced will be focused on improving and expanding its fitness offerings.
“We’re just going to be heads-down, working on the product. We want to be able to get feedback on our classes. We want to iterate. We want to be able to produce more content to hit more people in different types of profiles,” she said.
“Our goal right now is just to focus on delivering the best experience at home possible, and really [refine] down our strategy there.”