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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!"

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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.

Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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