We are always wary when a press release lands in our inbox claiming to be the “Famous startup X for new industry Y.” Thus was the case with New York-based Workout Spots, which launched yesterday and claims to be the Open Table for fitness. But we’re not exactly gym experts, so we figured we’d hop on the phone with Mike Stefanello, Workout Spots’s cofounder, and give him the benefit of the doubt.
Workout Spots allows users to search for exercise venues and register for fitness classes in their area. There’s also a social component–since working up a sweat is typically more fun with friends, Workout Spots allows you to see which classes your friends have signed up for so that you can get your heart rate up together.
“With how popular fitness has become, there are gyms everywhere, but still there’s really no central resource,” Mr. Stefanello told Betabeat by phone. “Most gym websites have little to no information–even the big gym chains rarely have their own websites or registration. At best we usually see a PDF calendar where you have to call and find out if you can book a space. It’s a really nasty process. So the feedback we’ve been getting from the gyms is that they’re amazed this doesn’t exist yet and they’re excited we offer these tools.”
Workout Spots doesn’t just cater to gyms, but also places like dance and yoga studios–basically any spot that offers exercise opportunities, said Mr. Stefanello. The tool seems especially ideal for personal trainers, who might not have the resources to build their own websites or registration tools, and can use Workout Spots to book new clients and list their availability.
The site is currently bootstrapping and is free to use for both individuals and workout facilities. Mr. Stefanello said that they’d like to avoid charging companies to join so that they can get as many listings as possible. Instead, future monetization efforts could include sponsored searches, where businesses can pay to have their listing surface when a user searches for a class they offer.
Workout Spots definitely seems like a useful tool, but it could probably benefit from dropping the Open Table comparison, if only for the sake of our sanity.