Pikesville resident Julie Blumenfeld considers herself an athletic person. She enjoys hitting the gym and strives to lead a healthy life.
But between raising three young kids, working as a pediatric dentist and chairing Impact, the young adult division of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Blumenfeld, 34, says it’s challenging for her to find time to exercise.
Now, thanks to BurnAlong, an online fitness and wellness video platform, she doesn’t have to sacrifice her fitness goals due to time constraints. “BurnAlong allows me to squeeze in an additional workout in the morning or evening, even if I don’t have time to go to the gym,” she says.
BurnAlong gives users the social benefits of a fitness center without ever having to leave their homes. Offering more than 500 videotaped classes from 46 states, Israel, Australia and Spain, BurnAlong allows members to connect with top fitness instructors, stream classes and invite friends who are also BurnAlong members to virtually join them for workouts.
BurnAlong motivates people to work out by connecting them, says Mike Kott, co-CEO of BurnAlong. “The social experience drives accountability, making people more likely to participate,” says Kott.
Adds his co-CEO, Daniel Freedman: “People who go to the gym have emotional connections to instructors and we are bringing those instructors into members’ homes. “
The Owings Mills-based BurnAlong was founded two years ago and brought to market in 2017 by Kott and Freedman, both Beth Tfiloh congregants.
Freedman, 36, and Kott, 41, are no strangers to entrepreneurial or technological pursuits. Before co-founding BurnAlong, Kott, a Goucher College graduate, worked with a financial services startup. Freedman worked as a New York journalist before spending five years as an intelligence and technology consultant.
Originally from London, Freedman and his family moved to Baltimore to live closer to his wife’s family. After meeting through mutual friends, Kott and Freedman decided they wanted to start a business together and recognized they had similar struggles when it came to staying in shape.
“I used to be extremely active and that dwindled as my life changed and my career and family grew,” says Kott.
BurnAlong’s intelligent platform uses data-points to generate recommendations for individual users, “ensuring the company drives higher engagement and ultimately, the best possible outcomes for our members,” says Kott. There are three membership levels, and users can choose from a monthly, yearly or corporate subscription.
“From a corporate wellness side, it’s helpful for company culture when people feel good about themselves,” says Freedman. “It provides a morale boost and improves productivity. Additionally, employers want to drive down health care costs, and giving employees access to fitness and wellness programs helps lowers those costs.” Local corporations currently using BurnAlong for their employees include the Baltimore Ravens, Clearview Group and the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
Affiliating with BurnAlong is free for gyms or studios. These establishments can manage their own online profiles, receive marketing support from BurnAlong and earn revenue based on the number of views their class videos receive.
The goal of BurnAlong “isn’t replacing the in-person experience; it’s supplementing it,” says Freedman. “This isn’t about whether or not gym members will do something at home. It’s about whether they will do something connected with the gym or studio they belong to.”
For Aimee Fulchino, co-owner of Barre at Quarry Lake at Greenspring, joining the BurnAlong family was “a no-brainer.”
“We had explored doing our own live video streaming, but it’s very costly,” says Fulchino. “Our clients have been asking us to do something like this for a long time because they want the ability to take us with them when they are out of town. It also gives us exposure to people all over the state and country who would not otherwise know we exist.”
It’s that connection between the in-person and online experience that has users like Blumenfeld coming back for more.
“Through BurnAlong, I’ve discovered local instructors that I like working out with,” she says. “I now go to a boot camp in person three days a week with a teacher I first watched on this platform. If it weren’t for BurnAlong, I wouldn’t know the class existed.”
While Baltimore may not seem like an obvious location for a tech startup, Freedman and Kott believe there is no better place for their business to thrive.
“Baltimore has a strong ecosystem and startup community,” says Kott. “It’s on the edge of becoming known for that and we are excited to be a part of it.”
For information about BurnAlong, visit burnalong.com.
Aliza Friedlander is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.