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gorecess3Editor’s note: Nike Accelerator Spotlight takes a look at the ten startups participating in the Nike+ Accelerator, a three-month startup program based in Portland, Ore. and put on by Nike and TechStars. GeekWire is featuring each company leading up to the June 10 demo day. 

gorecesslogoFor many of us, exercising alone is sometimes boring. Fitness classes, on the otherhand, can be fun and add extra motivation to burn a few more calories.

But finding those classes can be a real pain, especially for those traveling who just want to get in a quick session. They can be hard to locate online and the popular ones fill up quickly.

GoRecess, a year-old startup participating in the Nike+ Accelerator, has an answer. It’s like OpenTable or Expedia, but swap the restaurants and flights out for fitness classes.

Co-founder Megan Smyth came up with the idea after having difficulty finding workout classes that fit her schedule and preferences.

“If we can so easily find and book a restaurant reservation on OpenTable or find a flight on Kayak or Expedia, why can’t we do the same for workouts?” Smyth asks.

To learn more about GoRecess, we caught up with Smyth, a former Wall Street investment banker who co-founded the company with Bill Arzt and Matt Robinson.

GoRecess co-founders Bill Arzt and Megan Smyth.
GoRecess co-founders Bill Arzt and Megan Smyth.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: GoRecess allows you to easily find fitness classes based on workout type, location, date and time and book them in one place. Think “OpenTable for workouts.”

Inspiration hit us when: After running my second marathon, I became increasingly interested in group fitness classes to mix up my workout routine. I love the variety classes offer, the motivation of working out around others and an inspiring instructor and that they are fun! While running 60 minutes on a treadmill can often seem boring and monotonous, an hour-long class always seems to fly by and is something I look forward to.

At the same time, however, I found the process of finding a workout class that fit my life – one that fit into my busy schedule, was conveniently located, matched my workout goals and interests, and wasn’t sold out – to be very frustrating and sometimes overwhelming. I would find myself constantly doing Google searches, sifting through dozens of studio schedules, scouring Yelp for reviews, trying to manage several studio-specific logins and billing details, and often ended up disappointed by being added to just another waitlist.  The discovery process alone was enough to make me lose all motivation.  And the more we talked to friends and colleagues, the more we realized this was a common frustration. If we can so easily find and book a restaurant reservation on OpenTable or find a flight on Kayak or Expedia, why can’t we do the same for workouts? So the idea for GoRecess was born – to take the work out of finding and booking a workout.

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: That’s a secret :) We are working on several exciting updates that we hope to share in the coming months. Stay tuned…

GoRecess' platform lets you search by class type and studio.
GoRecess’ platform lets you search by class type and studio.

How do you plan on using the Nike+ platform and NikeFuel?: The Nike Fuel integration will allow GoRecess users to quantify their fitness class activity and track their Fuel earned per class. With time, crowdsourced Fuel scores will allow users to see the average Fuel earned at specific studios and from various workout activities. With this data, GoRecess will help users find fitness classes and activities near them that will help them achieve their daily Fuel goals as well as allow them to share and compare their results with friends and other class participants to stay motivated.

Who will use your product?: GoRecess appeals to fitness class enthusiasts who are seeking the latest workout craze, casual exercisers who want to try new workouts without committing to expensive gym memberships, gym members seeking to spice up their workout routine, and travelers looking to find a workout while on the road. Wherever you are traveling or whatever the time of day you can fit in your workout, GoRecess can help make it happen.

At the same time, GoRecess also serves as a powerful, cost-effective marketing and yield management platform for small businesses such as yoga and pilates studios who don’t have the financial or human capital resources or expertise to market their businesses and be discovered by new customers and fill empty seats.

A quick search for yoga classes around Seattle produced a bevy of options.
A quick search for yoga classes around Seattle produced a bevy of options.

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: Not trusting our guts.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: Participating in the Nike+ Accelerator program. The advice and mentorship we have received from TechStars, Nike, and the hundreds of mentors volunteering their time has been invaluable as we look to enhance our product and grow our business.

nikefueliceWould you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner?: That’s a tough one. We would be thrilled to have any of them in our corner, but would choose Zuckerberg given our goal to build a community of fitness enthusiasts and Bezos for his e-commerce expertise.

Would you rather have Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali or Tiger Woods in your corner?: Jordan.

Rivals should fear us because: We’re creating a faster and easier way to discover fitness activities that fit your life, building a community of fitness enthusiasts, and making finding and booking a workout more simple, more motivating, and more fun than ever before.

We are truly unique because: We are currently the only fitness-focused destination that allows you to find and book such a comprehensive variety of workouts nationwide. In addition to several upcoming updates, we also will soon be one of the few companies integrated with Nike Fuel.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: Seek out advice, get feedback on your product and business, and don’t take it personally. It’s easy to get lost in your idea when you are working on something 24-7, but sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step back and listen to what others have to say. It’s amazing to see how many people are there to help if you just ask.

Inside the Nike+ Accelerator office in Portland.
Inside the Nike+ Accelerator office in Portland.

The greatest tech-related invention in sports is: We believe that as quantified self technology becomes truly mainstream, the awareness and measurement that comes with it will inspire people to improve themselves like never before.

Our favorite sports-related app/platform right now is: We’re pretty excited about Nike Fuel at the moment!

Your first impressions of Portland are: We are loving Portland so far! The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, there are lots of fun neighborhoods to explore, and the surrounding areas are beautiful. Plus, there are countless indoor and outdoor fitness activities, great wine, and the weather has been amazing…what’s not to love?

Previously on GeekWire: Portland just isn’t where young people go to retire: It’s where they get their VC money, too

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