Cyclists and runners have long used the miles of pavement that make up the Atlanta BeltLine for their workouts. But the trail has been attracting a more diverse group of fitness enthusiasts, thanks to free yoga, HIIT, Zumba, and other fitness classes.
The classes are a big draw (even in the summer heat). Over 1700 people, representing 123 Georgia zip codes, have participated in classes since May, says Smart Studio co-founder Aditya Rao. Smart Studio started a new partnerships with the Atlanta BeltLine earlier this summer to make those classes more enjoyable for fitness-loving visitors and easier for BeltLine instructors to administer.
The software startup streamlines the business side of the fitness and personal training industry. The goal is to bring all the important tools an instructor needs into one place, Rao told Hypepotamus.
“Fitness professionals love what they do, they’re passionate about fitness, they want to give their clients the best experience ever and make them the healthiest versions of themselves,” Rao told Hypepotamus. But in reality, these instructors get bogged down with day-to-day operations and have to rely on outdated technology to run their businesses.
Instead of texting back and forth to get a lesson on the books or chasing a client around for credit card info, Smart Studio serves as a single place to manage scheduling, payments, liabilities waivers, and cancellations. This is particularly important as fitness instructors build up their own client base.
For instructors teaching on the BeltLine, Smart Studio allows for a seamless check-in process, something that has been traditionally difficult for outdoor drop-in classes that are popular in the fitness training world. The platform also gives the BeltLine more crucial data around who is taking the free fitness classes each day.
Getting Smart Studio Off The Ground
Rao, who grew up in India, moved to Atlanta to pursue his MBA at Emory University. After spending almost six years in the consulting world with Deloitte, he joined Atlanta-based fitness company BLAST as the company’s Chief Strategy Officer. It was there that he realized fitness industry software was “complicated,” “clunky,” and did not give instructors the key data they needed to run their classes.
He said the network of fitness professionals he built up during his time at BLAST has been helpful for customer discovery and for building up the initial pool of Smart Studio’s beta users.
Rao co-founded the company with his brother-in-law Brince Neidlinger, who brings broad fintech and payments experience into the startup. Neidlinger previously worked at Global Payments, SunTrust Bank, and most recently served as a VP at GreenSky. The team tapped the local software development firm Azul Arc and has relied heavily on the Emory network to get the platform off the ground. The team raised a SAFE note from friends and family, though Rao told Hypepotamus that the team is now looking to bring on “strategic investors” for its next chapter of growth.
Now that the platform is “ready for primetime,” Rao said the team is looking for more fitness instructors to check out the platform. And fitness enthusiasts looking for a new workout routine can check out what free classes are coming to the BeltLine next.
Featured photo from the BeltLine’s Twitter page. Photos in story provided by Smart Studio