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Class cover with CoverMe Fitness

The CoverMe Fitness app, spearheaded by founders Beverlee Brinkworth and Rosanna Tucker, is poised to revolutionise the fitness industry by simplifying the process of sourcing freelance exercise instructors for group exercise classes.

Through the app’s algorithm, vetted, qualified and insured instructors are matched with gyms and fitness studios based on skills, proximity and availability, thus minimising timetable disruptions. The app was officially launched in March 2023, marking the culmination of years of development and refinement. It originated from Brinkworth and Tucker's extensive industry knowledge and desire to bring innovation to the industry. With experience of managing clubs over decades – from boutique venues to big box brands – they recognised a need for change. Their first venture, Studio Society, introduced an immersive studio experience using sight, sound and scent to create an engaging atmosphere for participants. At the pair’s West Hamstead gym, traditional brightly lit spaces with mirrors are eschewed, with the aim to provide a more enjoyable environment for group exercise. Research supported their approach, indicating that the use of mirrors in group activities was not necessarily conducive to effective workouts. By engaging multiple senses, such as scent and sound, participants can immerse themselves in the exercise, leading to better training outcomes and increased enjoyment. The concept has been a huge success, now offering over 250 classes a week.

The idea for the CoverMe Fitness app stemmed from their first-hand experience in managing group exercise programmes. Instructor turnover and last-minute cancellations have been a perennial problem over the years, with management having to scramble on WhatsApp, Facebook groups or traditional lists for cover. Tucker explains: ‘You’d cross your fingers and hope that someone would come back to you. It’s chaotic, incredibly stressful and time consuming.’ Brinkworth adds: ‘The ways we work in fitness are actually very antiquated and creaky. There was no new innovation in terms of how we sourced cover, so we thought if we could find a way to solve this problem, it would save us time and stress.’ The pair soon realised that what was needed was a network of sports and fitness professionals in the country to facilitate seamless communication between clubs and instructors. What followed was a year of research and a resulting business plan. ‘We needed to find out what the pain points were,’ says Tucker. ‘Even the big box operators would scramble around with WhatsApp, which also happens to be non-GDPR compliant and is another problem when you’re having to check insurance or certification at a day’s notice.’With nothing similar on the market, the pair enlisted their IT person Graham to build a basic app, a simple system upon which the club’s instructors could be loaded. ‘It wasn't complicated or super slick,’ Tucker remembers. ‘It took Graham three months, a lot of swearing and about a billion cups of tea, but we got it done and were suddenly fulfilling 97% of our cover, and saving between 6 and 8 hours a week.’ With the realisation that the concept had legs, it wasn’t long before a more sophisticated version was required, one that could have certification and insurance documents attached. Having sourced an investor in in the USA and India to develop the technology, the CoverMe Fitness app was born.

This app comprises of a comprehensive platform with three apps – a venue app, an instructor app and a gatekeeper app for admin purposes. The integrated system facilitates seamless communication between clubs and instructors, while ensuring compliance with insurance and certification requirements. Additionally, there’s a rewards aspect to incentivise instructors and aid with retention. Tucker says: ‘When you look at it, instructors stand up in front of your members and perform the most incredible 45-minute show, so we wanted to make sure that they were rewarded for coming in and covering last minute. Instructors acquire badges with points used for different offers and discounts – a spa day, a head mic or discounts with our partners. It’s a bit like Amex.’ One major advantage of the app is its emphasis on compliance within the fitness industry. Certificates and insurance can be uploaded for verification by the team. Reminders can be set when documents need to be updated, and the app adheres to GDPR regulations, so sensitive personal data is handled in accordance with privacy laws. It has proved innovative in other ways too. Whereas many club operators would design their timetable around available instructors, now timetables can be designed with the users’ preferences in mind. Brinkworth explains: ‘Our app brings you a platform where you can post out a message and it will go to every single one of our, say, Zumba instructors based in the area. Then you can invite them in for an audition. So, from one post you could pick up 50 local Zumba instructors that you would never have access to previously.’



Today, the CoverMe Fitness app boasts around 6,000 instructors and has garnered the support of 130 clubs, including those with Virgin Active UK, while partners include Serco, Nuffield Health and Fitness First to name a few. The recent roll-out into the United States and Australia marks a significant milestone, while industry heavyweights like John Treharne, founder and executive chair of The Gym Group, and Emma Barry, co-founder of Good Soul Hunting, have joined the company as non-executive directors. It's an exciting time and one which hasn’t come a moment to early. ‘We need to get the energy back into the industry,’ says Tucker. ‘We need to recover from COVID and get back the industry professionals we lost because they went and got full time jobs. ‘It's not just about club operators solving a problem; we want instructors to also love being on this app. They are going to come back into an industry which doesn’t offer the best pay, and it is actually quite difficult to find the work and get out there. More often than not, they will have to fend for themselves in social media groups, so this an opportunity to turn that around.’


How it works

The use of QR code scanning allows for easy tracking of instructor attendance, so managers can track where each is located, generate class cover and send out automatic invoices. Following a request to join, each instructor is sent a link and asked to download the app, upon which they must upload their insurance documents, certificates, photos and/or videos. Once the documents are uploaded, they are reviewed by the in-house admin team. The admin app acts as a gatekeeper, pending approval. Once verified, the instructors are released onto the CoverMe platform, becoming available for class cover requests from participating gyms and studios. For gyms like Virgin Active, who have their own club app, CoverMe integrates with these apps so instructors can use post cover requests directly into their club app. These requests are then distributed within the club's network, allowing other instructors to see and respond to them.

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