Livestrong launches Stronger, a tech-enabled health and fitness platform to combat P90X and Jenny Craig

By Michael Carney , written on June 27, 2013

From The News Desk

Fitness is big business. In the US, gyms, health, and fitness clubs are a $26 billion per year market, and fitness DVDs bring in another $265 million annually, with neither figure including all the products and accessories associated with the category. It’s no surprise then that, the well-known health and wellness publisher – which licenses its name from the charity founded by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and became famous for its yellow bracelets – wants a piece of the action. Today the company launched a Web-based food and fitness program called Stronger.

The subscription-based product combines an approachable P90X-type daily bootcamp workout regimen with healthy eating content and a comprehensive dashboard for tracking and optimizing one’s healthy lifestyle. Stronger’s frontman is LA-based celebrity trainer and former professional soccer player Nicky Holender, who lends the program a fun and engaging feel.

There are no shortages of places to get daily workout routines. Where Stronger differentiates itself is by offering its members a comprehensive and personalized health management platform. It sounds like fancy marketing speak, but after a personal demo I can honestly say it is compelling, although that doesn't mean the product will take off.

After completing a brief profile including current height, weight, fitness level, dietary type (omnivore, paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.), and goals, each user receives a customized workout plan and recommended diet. The Stronger dashboard then offers a daily calendar that lists each recommended meal and exercise routine, each of which can be checked once completed or modified and customized using natural language and the company’s database of millions of food items, including those from popular restaurants, and workout types. Each workout totals approximately 30 to 40 minutes in length and is available in low, medium, and high intensity.

At the end of the day, the user is delivered a comprehensive look at their daily caloric intake – broken down by macronutrient type – and output, based on BMI. Stronger also delivers recommendations for ways to improve overall health and fitness, as well as daily motivational videos from Holender and a community discussion module to keep users engaged and active.

Stronger Diet is a partnership between the Livestrong foundation and Demand Media, the publicly traded digital content company that sees more than 100 million monthly unique visitors across its collection of Web properties, making it the 14th-largest such publisher in country. Scale certainly doesn't ensure quality, but the company nailed it with Stronger, which is among the best products I’ve encountered in the health and fitness category.

But despite this polish, Stronger is in for a serious battle. American consumers are notoriously non-committal and, despite aspirations to the contrary, generally averse to health and wellness. For those who are willing to pay up with the hopes of looking and feeling better, chances are high that they already belong to a gym, see a personal trainer, and/or own a set (or several) of fitness DVDs, dietary plans, and accompanying mobile apps – even if they are all collecting proverbial dust. To change this behavior and get a large number of consumers to try out Stronger will be no small feat. Once they see the product, getting them to pay to stick around could actually prove less of a hurdle.

Stronger is available as a two-week free trial and cost $14.95 per month, billed in two month increments. This is relatively cheap as fitness alternatives go, but the hope at Demand Media and Livestrong is that members will continue to subscribe for many months or years.

It is said that the best workout, or diet, is the one you’ll stick to. What’s missing from this bit of wisdom is that the routine users will stick to is often the one that offers the support of a community and that offers tangible and measurable results. Stronger offers both retention mechanisms in spades. Demand Media and Livestrong have done well to create a fitness oasis and will now do everything in their power to attract users to the water’s edge. But no matter how refreshing, there’s no guarantee the company can make them drink.