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Combining data with a personal touch, Fitnescity Lifestyle Management targets crowded wellness market

An MIT Sloan alumna’s startup brings analytics and 3-D body scanning to personalized wellness

By Amy MacMillan Bankson  |  December 22, 2016

Laila Zemrani

Laila Zemrani, MBA ’13

U.S. consumers spend some $100 billion annually on physical fitness and weight loss programs and products. With wearables from Fitbits to Apple watches tracking everything from steps to sleep, is there room in the large but crowded market for a new entry?

MIT Sloan alumna Laila Zemrani is counting on it. Zemrani, who cofounded Fitnescity Lifestyle Management together with Çağatay Demiralp, is debuting the company’s offering at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Fitnescity brings real-time data from wearables together with customized fitness coaching based on an individual’s lifestyle and an array of wellness metrics. It’s this intensive personalization, combined with the human element of one-on-one coaching, that could prompt users to stick with Fitnescity over standalone wearables, many of which end up unused after the initial novelty wears off and users lose motivation. Zemrani, who has been working on the startup for the past year, recently discussed the company’s approach.

Describe what you mean by “personalized wellness.”

Personalized wellness is an approach that provides recommendations and interventions based on each individual’s unique physiology, history, and lifestyle data. Rather than relying on one-size-fits-all solutions, it gets to know the individual’s wellness at the deepest level, leading to improved outcomes.

At Fitnescity, this approach takes the form of a data-driven wellness coaching program that uses a range of connected devices such as fitness trackers, wirelessly connected scales, glucometers, and heart rate and blood pressure monitors. These devices collect a large set of physiological measurements like body composition, weight, posture, metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure. Fitnescity then integrates these biomarkers with the individual’s lifestyle data: nutrition habits, sleep patterns, and stress levels, which are all collected through online assessments. The company then combines the data with the individual’s medical history and potential health risks, resulting in a wellness profile for each individual.

How does Fitnescity work?

Fitnescity matches each client with a personal coach, who helps implement lifestyle changes in a customized 16-week program. The coach, who is responsible for most of the data collection, meets the client in person about three times a week. Fitness training, nutrition counseling, and sleep and stress monitoring are all part of the service. At the end of the 16 weeks, the client receives a detailed review of the program’s impact on their wellness.

How is Fitnescity different from other personal training programs?

Most wellness recommendations are based on generic trends. However, each person has a different physiology, history, and lifestyle, so what works for one might not work for another.

With that in mind, Fitnescity allows each coach to make more personalized and informed decisions. Fitnescity Labs enables clients to visualize progress through tools such as 3-D body scanning which allows them to see how their bodies are changing through exercise and diet. Fitnescity is, in essence, a technology company.

2016-Zemrani-3D-body Fitnescity’s 3-D body model fitness tool

Personalization is already part of our everyday life. Services like Amazon and Netflix create effective experiences by strongly emphasizing personalization. When it comes to wellness, implementing lifestyle changes in an effective, engaging, personalized manner can mean the difference between chronic disease and health. Fitnescity aims to be at the forefront of that movement.

Fitnescity will be available in a private beta launch in New York in 2017. The company plans to expand its operations to other locations later in the year.