Home fitness has had many challenges over the last year, but one of the things we miss most is the joy of sweating it out with our friends. Luckily, we’ve found a game-changing solution that brings social connection into your living room. We spoke with innovator and founder Sanne Fouquet to learn more about her brainchild, Classmate.
Tell us about yourself & about Classmate!
Classmate is the combination of a social network and a virtual boutique studio. Our application enables our users to connect with friends (a.k.a. Classmates) through private, live and bespoke fitness classes. Users can either book a class at a time that suits them and invite their friends, or scroll through the newsfeed to see friends' activities and spontaneously join their sessions. It’s almost like a clubhouse for virtual fitness! We aim to bring an interactive studio experience to our user's home and create a safe space with friends and instructors, in which our users feel comfortable to keep their camera on. This adds to the social experience and enables our instructors to provide personalised feedback and encouragement.
I’m an engineer who started my career on the trading floor, quickly moved to work in tech and now pivoting to become a wellness entrepreneur! I was constantly travelling between Europe and the US at my last job, and my health took a hard hit due to poor movement, food and sleeping habits. My life changed when I started to implement in-flight meditation and a strict workout routine. Not only did it help my wellbeing and mental health, but also my performance at work and my relationships. This sparked my interest in holistic health.
What inspired you to create Classmate?
Like many others, I struggled with mental health over the past 12 months. Even though I was constantly in Zoom meetings with my colleagues, I felt a sense of loneliness and I was struggling to find a motivating online workout alternative that kept me accountable.
I went searching for a social, virtual workout alternative and realised that most solutions out there are more or less solo experiences. Even though I loved the convenience of working out from my home, I missed the social aspect of going to a class together with friends. At the same time, I noticed that people around me were setting up private, virtual yoga classes together with their friends. This was a very tedious process that required them to find an instructor, a time that suited the instructor and friend group, splitting the payments etc., and there was no way to know what classes your fitness network were taking.
This led me to create Classmate, a platform that lets you connect with your friends across the world over a fun, healthy and soul-enriching virtual activity that we try to squeeze into our calendar anyway. Classmate is not just about providing a fun fitness alternative, we are creating a healthy way of socialising with your friends around the world.
What classes do you recommend for those just beginning to work out again after a year at home?
Barre is an isometric and full-range flexibility movement that is a perfect, join-friendly workout for women and men in all ages. It’s a super fun workout, feel-good guided by upbeat tunes. Yoga is also a perfect start to get back, especially our founding instructor Amy’s LYT Yoga classes which help reset postural imbalances that many of us have developed when sitting scrunched in front of our computers the last couple of months.
What are the benefits of working out in a group instead of alone?
First and foremost: It is just so much more fun to work out with friends and family! It is scientifically proven that working out with friends makes you more accountable, and keeps you more motivated throughout the class. Furthermore, there is no better way of increasing bonding than enjoying those good vibes only, workout endorphins. One of our most popular features are the “pre-workout” socials during which friends are sent to a private, virtual room to catch up for a few minutes ahead of class. After the class is finished, the instructor leaves but lets all Classmates stay to hang for as long as they want.
What types of groups are using Classmate?
We have many friend groups scattered around the world who use Classmate as a natural way of staying in touch whilst staying in shape. We also have a few examples of parents and their grown-up kids living across Europe who are using Classmate on a weekly basis, as well as remote teams having sessions to strengthen team connectivity while staying healthy. It’s also interesting to see users living in the same city who enjoy working out from home and are teaming up to get personalised experience on par with a PT session, for a fraction of the price.
Any tips for setting up a home workout space?
Many! There are a few simple tricks that can make a huge difference to your virtual fitness experience. I would say that the most important factor is the device set up. Make sure to join your workouts from a device with a relatively large screen. You can connect your device to your TV through Chromecast and AppleTV in a few clicks. Other devices with good sound quality such as your laptop or iPad work well too. If you join via your phone, it's hard for you to see your instructor and Classmates properly. Keep your camera on and don't hesitate to interact with your instructor and Classmate through the chat or by unmuting yourself. Take a few minutes before class to set up your space and ensure you have a bottle of Phizz to keep you hydrated throughout the workout!