STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

This app puts a personal trainer in your ear

"Keep your elbows as close to your sides as possible," the personal trainer tells me as I start my last set ...

Posted: Nov 12, 2018 7:56 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2018 7:56 PM

"Keep your elbows as close to your sides as possible," the personal trainer tells me as I start my last set of push-ups.

My arms feel like they're about to buckle onto my hotel room floor, but Mike pleads with me not to give up. "Only a few seconds left!"

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Computer science and information technology

Diet, nutrition and fitness

Exercise and fitness

Health and medical

Mobile apps

Mobile technology

Software and applications

Technology

I can hear Mike cheering me on, but I can't see him. In fact, I've never even met the guy.

I'm working out through Aaptiv, an app with dozens of coaches who lead pre-recorded, audio-only workouts. The app, which costs $14.99/month or $99.99/year, features a variety of beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts.

About 200,000 users work out with Aaptiv, and the startup is growing fast. Last week the company announced an international expansion of the English-language app to 20 countries, and it plans to move into local languages in 2019.

Aaptiv is valued at $200 million and is backed by investments from Amazon, Disney, Warner Music and Bose. But the industry is crowded: An endless amount of workout apps and YouTube videos target people who don't want to fork over the cash for a personal trainer.

So Aaptiv hopes to stand out with its audio-only format. Founder and CEO Ethan Agarwal came up with the idea after identifying a need in his own workouts.

"I needed some kind of coaching that would work while I was running," Agarwal told CNN Business. "The problem with videos is that I can't run down the street staring at my phone. That's why I started Aaptiv."

The app goes far beyond running: Courses are available for everything from yoga to strength training, voiced by a coach with current music playing in the background. The routines are designed for different settings like the gym, outdoors and home, and some require equipment like weights or a treadmill while others need no props.

The convenience and variety are big draws, but Aaptiv's audio-only format poses a major challenge: Because users can't see the exercises, they must rely solely on the trainer's verbal explanation to ensure they're doing the workout correctly.

I experienced this problem whenever I tried a new workout. I understood the vast majority of the exercises, but about once a routine I would find I wasn't doing the movements the coach intended. And occasionally I was way off.

Correct form for a workout is key to avoid injury, noted Dr. Daniel Yadegar, a cardiologist at Weill Cornell Medical College who also uses Aaptiv. But he added, "there are many people who work out on their own at the gym, without supervision, who take a similar risk. If used properly and with consistency, apps like this can be a great tool in achieving fitness goals."

The app's "very vocal online community" in its 32,000-strong Facebook page helps mitigate the risk of confusion and improper form, Aaptiv trainer Ackeem Emmons told CNN Business.

"If one person has a question about a particular exercise, then almost always lots of other users have the same question," Emmons said. "And that tells us how we need to improve."

Users can also weigh in at the end of each exercise, as the app prompts them to rate the workout and leave feedback for Aaptiv's trainers.

Those 22 trainers -- five full-time employees and 17 contractors -- develop their workouts with a quality-control team and record the audio sessions in a New York recording studio.

About 4,000 personal trainers have applied for positions at Aaptiv, said CEO Agarwal.

"I heard about Aaptiv from a friend, and I thought these guys might put me out of business one day," said Emmons. "So instead of waiting for that to happen, I applied to work with them."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16041

Reported Deaths: 767
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds103526
Lauderdale74568
Madison74525
Neshoba70742
Jones66331
Scott66112
Forrest59439
DeSoto5538
Leake44712
Rankin4468
Holmes43928
Copiah3154
Jackson30813
Attala30318
Yazoo2864
Newton2824
Leflore27334
Lincoln27029
Monroe26525
Harrison2637
Oktibbeha25314
Lamar2485
Lowndes2309
Wayne2242
Pearl River21131
Pike20411
Adams20015
Noxubee1916
Washington1917
Warren18110
Covington1732
Jasper1654
Lee1657
Bolivar16511
Clarke15419
Smith15311
Kemper14711
Lafayette1414
Chickasaw13714
Coahoma1274
Winston1211
Marion1179
Carroll11711
Clay1154
Claiborne1122
Lawrence1061
Simpson1020
Grenada993
Yalobusha966
Tate951
Hancock9112
Itawamba897
Wilkinson859
Union857
Sunflower853
Montgomery851
Panola843
Marshall813
Jefferson Davis803
Tippah7611
Webster683
Calhoun674
Amite641
Walthall610
Humphreys597
Tunica563
Prentiss563
Perry513
Choctaw482
Pontotoc433
Jefferson431
Tishomingo340
Quitman340
Stone310
Franklin292
Tallahatchie291
George261
Greene221
Alcorn181
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18474

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2283118
Jefferson1882103
Montgomery180243
Tuscaloosa81616
Marshall7059
Franklin5768
Lee55234
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43166
Butler41618
Walker3782
Elmore3739
Chambers35826
Madison3444
Morgan2971
Baldwin2929
Unassigned2922
Dallas2823
Etowah26112
DeKalb2563
Lowndes25512
Autauga2395
Coffee2381
Sumter2267
Houston2235
Bullock2136
Pike2080
Colbert1872
Hale1789
Russell1770
Barbour1751
Marengo1746
Lauderdale1672
Calhoun1653
Choctaw15310
Wilcox1527
Cullman1501
Clarke1482
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1041
Greene954
Winston910
Macon864
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia743
Washington726
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe442
Geneva430
Perry420
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Columbus
Broken Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 74°
Oxford
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather