Vancouver’s Train Fitness is using AI to transform your workout

The company's founders bill Train as the world's first app that can detect exercises and track reps.

Credit: Train Fitness

The Train Fitness crew

The company’s founders bill Train as the world’s first app that can detect exercises and track reps   

There are a lot of reasons one might move to Vancouver from Toronto. But for Andrew Just and Antoine Neidecker, COVID was the breaking point. The pair, who met at McGill University, had come up with the idea to launch an AI-based fitness training app and were preparing to do so out of Canada’s biggest city.  

“Obviously, starting a fitness company in the middle of a global pandemic is not the easiest thing to do,” Just laughs. “Gyms were closed in Toronto, with no foreseeable openings any time soon. For whatever reason, Vancouver seemed to be riding the COVID wave a little bit better. So we picked up the entire company and relocated to Vancouver, so we could have access to gyms to test and build the app.” 

It hasn’t taken long for the duo to get acquainted here. Train Fitness, officially launched in September and billed by Just and Neidecker as the “world’s first app that can detect exercises and track reps,” took second place and a $60,000 prize at October’s New Ventures BC competition.  

READ MORE: New Ventures BC competition crowns its 2021 winners

“COVID has created this renaissance of sorts on where fitness takes place,” Just argues. “Two years ago, when I went to work out, I’d go to the gym four times a week; that was that. People have learned to live without gyms now. Everyone is talking about what the return to work and the office looks like in the post-pandemic era. But really, what does the return to fitness look like?” 

Train’s Apple Watch app makes it easy for users to track their workouts, whether it’s at a home gym or in the park or somewhere else, and send them to their friends or trainer.  

“If you look at how it worked a year ago, a client would come in, talk to their trainer, and say, I did this exercise and that one, and so on,” Just explains. “Now trainers can look at the data and say, I can see that your rest time was too long here, I can see your acceleration on your squat on your seventh rep was high enough so that I feel comfortable pushing you today. It allows them to have these virtual eyes on their client at all times.” 

So far, the duo have kept marketing and social media to a minimum as they keep perfecting the app. But feedback has been good. “We see every day people have logged in their 30th or 40th workout,” Neidecker says. “People are starting to use the app every time they work out—that’s the primary objective right now.”  

The end goal is lofty, though: Train aims to do for squats and lifts what some household names have done for cardio. “If you asked me that six months go, I would have said, We want to be the premier app that optimizes individual workouts for people—log on, set fitness goals, build optimized workouts with the right amount of weight, rep times, set, whatever it might be,” Just says. “That’s still very much true, but our vision has grown beyond that.” 

Like some of the more popular names in the personal training biz, Train is looking to move toward the social side of things, according to Just. “If you look at the cardio space, whether it’s Strava or Zwift or Peloton or Fitbit, all of these companies have done remarkable things for building a fitness community around cardio,” he says. “But that just doesn’t exist for strength training right now. We want to be the first to bring a broader social community to strength training, to help people hold each other accountable, support each other in their fitness goals.”