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Meet Your New Social Media Obsession: Fitness App BurnThis

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Welcome to Workout Wednesday: every hump-day, we'll be rounding up some of the city's hottest fitness trends and studios.

It's a good time to be throwing money at New York City's fitness scene: the demand is high, the price apprehension is low, and new studios are sprouting up faster than you can say "it's leg day." Sites like ClassPass and Gilt City regularly offer up deals on single classes and packages, but conquering the world of social media has so far been left up to the Instagram superstars and the gyms themselves.

In 2012, that began to change with the launch of BurnThis: a fitness app that's just like a gym buddy only less chatty on the treadmill. It's currently available in New York CIty and LA, and over the past few months has taken off in popularity. Though they do offer exclusive packages to some of the city's best studios, BurnThis doesn't label itself as just a deal or bookings app. Instead, it's main focus is its social capabilities. You can follow people, create a fitness profile, and receive alerts when friends sign up for classes.

There aren't a ton of studios listed, and that was intentional; they personally vet all of their partners and only includes the best. After the jump, Anna Kohanski and Monica Mange Johnson explain how they got started, and why "Googling the best Pilates studio in town" just doesn't work anymore.

So why did you guys create BurnThis?

Anna: Before we started BurnThis, I was a trader on Wall Street and Monica was a federal prosecutor, but we found ourselves absolutely passionate about fitness. The boutique [fitness] market was super hot and had a lot of potential, and we thought that there were certain gaps in the market that a cool technology product—by the target demographic, for the target demographic—could really help solve.

The studio profile for Barry's Bootcamp on the site

How did you decide which studios would be involved?

Anna: All the studios on our app are ones that we've tried and fit within our brand ethos. You're not going to find an agnostic group of studios—you're going to find studios that we really love and endorse and want to promote through our like network.

Why do you think the social aspect of fitness so important?

Monica: We think that the social aspect is really what creates an amazing discovery tool for people to figure out where to go. We're all mixing up our workouts and discovering hot new places to keep our workouts fresh, and you can't Google the best Pilates studio in town or the latest workout. I think that the amazing feature [of the app] is discovering the workout of your friends and of people in the area who you admire, that you respect, and whose workout is similar to yours.

It's a discovery tool that has a life of it's own. It's not just the people that you know, it's also the people that you don't know that are like you.

Screen shots of the app

It's also important from a motivational perspective—If you're coordinating your workout with your friends, you are more inclined not to cancel your workout, and you feel more energized when you're doing the workout next to your friend. Plus, there's always the added bonus of being able to catch up with them and chatting in the studio afterwards.

What's the purpose of picking a fitness personality when you create a profile?

Monica: It's to find people that are like-minded within the BurnThis community. For example, when you're looking through classes, you can see the people signed up in the classes—if they have a similar fitness personality to yours, then you're more inclined to look at what they're doing, and see how they are mixing up their workout. It acts as a visual endorsement of different studios in the network that you can then discover based on similar preferences.

And do you have to stick with it forever?

Anna: We find that people switch their fitness personalities week to week, depending on the mood they're in. There's an option in the app to change up your fitness personality, so people are like, "I'm feeling like a yogi this week." "I'm feeling like a bootcamper this week."

You also started BurnThis with charity in mind. How have you meshed that with fitness?

Monica: We think that there is such a close tie between fitness and charity. We love to discover what motivates and inspires people to work out, and we found that from our own experiences and from all the communities and networks that we were involved in, charity is a motivating factor for a lot of people. So many of our events have a charity component to them. It creates accountability for people to come and participate.

How are the charities chosen?

Anna: We either work with a handful of charities that are near and dear to us, or choose one that the individual studios that we are working with are partial to.

What's coming up?

Anna: We have a lot of exciting updates coming that we can't disclose right now, but one increasing feature of the app right now is the deal component. There's little deal passes that appear next to classes where we have curated flash sales and other types of exclusive offers.
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