In a clear sign of how augmented and virtual reality are about to play more major roles in this decade’s app economy, FlexIt — a pay-as-you-go app that lets you access fitness clubs without a membership — today announced that you will be able to virtually tour gyms and even lightly interact with their equipment without leaving your home. Dubbed FlexIt XR, the initiative will help gyms attract additional customers and enable users to get a better sense of facilities without actually visiting them.
Historically, fitness clubs have operated on a membership model: Customers pay fixed fees for monthly memberships, regardless of whether they show up once or 30 times, and sometimes continue to get charged even after quitting the gym. FlexIt changes that model, providing Android and iOS users with pay-per-minute access to over 1,500 fitness clubs across 20 U.S. states, charging only for time actually spent in the facility. For users, the key question then becomes which gym to choose for a given day’s workout needs.
FlexIt’s app will offer answers in both both AR and VR forms. With new AR features in the core FlexIt app, users will be able to take pre-tours of gyms to survey their layouts, as well as seeing the brands and features of specific pieces of equipment — details that will help people determine whether a location has whatever they’re looking for.
On the VR side, FlexIt will begin by offering even more immersive VR pre-tours of facilities, including the ability to hold weights and feel varying levels of resistance from haptic VR controllers, which shouldn’t be confused with separate moves toward virtual at-home exercise. Unspecified additional VR features are planned for future steps in a multi-stage rollout. There’s one caveat: FlexIt says it will provide access to the VR features at pop-ups, events, and fitness club showrooms rather than within its smartphone app, since additional VR headset and controller hardware will be required for the full experience.
The company is also adding a personal training feature to the core app, enabling users to pay for sessions in 15-minute increments rather than signing up for bundles of sessions or gym memberships. Like the pay-per-minute facilities concept, the added flexibility will benefit some users, as well as helping service providers make better use of their existing resources.