by Lauren Landry | August 17, 2015 7:00 am
“Whenever you go to the gym, you are rolling the dice as to whether you can do what you want.”
Joe Rockland is right—you never know what equipment will be available, or how packed the aerobics class will be. That is why Rockland and his high school best friend Dave Stanton decided to start GymSnap, an app that lets college students avoid a busy gym.
Stanton, a customer experience team leader at daily fantasy sports website DraftKings, attended Colby College, a small liberal arts school in Waterville, Maine. Rockland, a marketing and logistics associate at Factory Athletics, a Maryland company coaching youth and high school athletes through the college recruiting process, went to the large, public University of Maryland.
“They are two very different schools,” Rockland says. “One thing we both realized is that no matter how big or small the school was, whenever we wanted to go to the gym, we always seemed to go during peak hours.”
Stanton went to Rockland in late 2014 with wireframes for GymSnap, asking if he would be willing to provide finance and marketing advice. Within months, Rockland was brought on full-time—Stanton knew GymSnap was going to grow faster than he could handle.
“Each day is different, because neither of us have done something like this before,” Rockland says. “We both work full-time and this started as just a side project. But now it’s become something we’re both deeply invested in. We’re putting everything we have into it.”
GymSnap lets students see if the equipment they want to use at their school’s recreation center is available before they walk through the door, as well as receive updates about the gym directly to their phone. For a smaller school like Colby, where varsity athletes do not have a separate gym, the app allows administrators to notify students that the football team will be in the weight room from, say, 3 to 5 p.m. For larger schools, it is easier to update students on events, fitness classes, and maintenance.
With GymSnap, rec center employees walk around roughly every hour and enter in how many people are in the weight room or on the basketball courts. Changes are reflected in real-time to students, who can hopefully start planning their day better.
For Stanton and Rockland, GymSnap is about more than helping students avoid a busy gym; it’s about improving campus life.
“When we were students, we wish we had this,” Rockland explains. “We want to improve student life and make it possible for students to enjoy all aspects that college has to offer. We want to make it easy for students to stay healthy.”
The cofounders have thrown around the idea of “creating a social network through recreation” that would let students see which friends of theirs were at the gym, where they were working out, and potentially compete for points that would be redeemable for items on campus. A messaging feature is also on the table, but Rockland notes they do not want to expand too far and “have 1,000 features that are weak.” Rather, they want to focus on what students need most.
Because the team is in the process of finalizing partnerships, Rockland did not name any schools using GymSnap. He did say, however, that the goal is to be in three to five schools this fall in the greater New England area that they can give their undivided attention to, to see what works and what doesn’t. By the end of the year, they want that number to hit 25.
“The hope is to be on every campus across the country,” Rockland says. “There’s a need for this, no matter the type of school—big, small, private, or public.”
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