Around 2013 I threw out my back several times. Each time was incredibly painful and although most of the pain subsided after a week or so, I never felt fully recovered. I dealt with this pain for a few years before finally seeing a doctor about it. Multiple visits, an X-ray, and an MRI revealed that my back (and neck) were indeed in disarray. My doctor referred me to a physical therapy clinic. At the clinic they focused on strengthening my core muscles so that I wouldn’t put so much strain on my back while sitting or standing. They gave me a series of exercises to complete at home and suggested that I take up other forms of exercise, like yoga or pilates. All I needed to do was get in shape.
In late 2015 I started taking spin classes at a studio near my apartment. I figured that before I tried focusing entirely on my core I would start with something just to get active. This studio also offered classes in something I hadn’t heard of before, called Lagree fitness. It used a large machine called a Megaformer that I was told was like a pilates reformer. I had no idea what that was. The Megaformer looked like a medieval torture rack. I decided to give it a go.
As of February 2017 I have been taking Megaformer classes for about a year. I lost 40lbs. I have also been training to become a certified Lagree Fitness instructor. All I wanted to do was get in shape so that I could reduce the pain in my back. That’s it. It seemed like a reasonable goal.
Now that I have had the opportunity to teach a few Megaformer classes myself, I thought about how an app might be a useful aid for instructors. I have taken classes with many trainers and they are all incredibly motivating and organized. I figured that for an app to be useful, it should be something that could be used both during and outside of class. At the very least I was thinking about how an app could be used to put together a routine. For example, there could be a database of available moves with additional information about body placement, duration, modifications, variations, range of motion, and target muscles. Once a routine has been created, the app could give you heat maps showing how much each muscle group is being targeted and for how long. This information isn’t entirely necessary, but it could be helpful to know.
I started out with a basic sketch of the app and thought about what the major features should be. Users should be able to create, view, and play routines easily from the app as well as modify any existing moves for their needs. A saved routine is not unlike a playlist or an album in a music app. Each move lasts one to two minutes with a brief transition period before the next move begins. Each move requires specific placement on the machine with a variety of variations and modifications. Moves also typically include a suggested level of spring resistance. Spring resistance is set via cables with red and yellow knobs that run underneath the machine. Routines last 40-45 minutes and cover legs, arms, core, and obliques.
I quickly threw together a few designs based on my initial sketches. I decided to implement Google's Material Design language as a foundation for the app. It provided me with the basic building blocks to communicate how the app would work, and I could easily enhance the design later with additional stylistic choices. A floating action button was used for the main action in both the view and edit modes. In edit mode, users can easily add additional moves to an existing routine. In play mode, users can "play" the routine which displays related information in real time.
I have developed a functional prototype of this application on the web. It's quite a bit different than my initial mockups but my focus here was to get a feel for the basic features.