Activity Tracking Social Network App Strava Is Expanding Into New Fitness Markets

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SAN FRANCISCO, United States  — This month Strava, the “social network for athletes”, recorded its two billionth activity upload after a fivefold acceleration over the past 18 months. Now it’s targeting indoor fitness ––classes and services to become the go-to data hub for all exercise activity.

Traditionally, the saying, “If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen” referred strictly to a ride, run or swim recorded by one of Strava’s 36 million worldwide members. However, with the news the fitness network plans to expand its user community, it may be possible to hear the term in conjunction with spin sessions, yoga classes or resistance workouts.

In May 2017, Strava celebrated its one billionth activity upload, eight years after launching in 2009. Just 18 months later, Strava’s upload pace has increased fivefold, with 20 activities uploaded every second and one million new members every 30 days.

Since crossing the one billion activity threshold in May 2017, Strava has seen 33% growth in activities uploaded by women, 21% growth in run activity uploads, and 13% growth in uploads outside of the US.

Now CEO James Quarles is targeting “the other 55%” of how people exercise. “Going to studio classes, training at home… we want all of those to count and to be a part of the Strava experience,” he said in a recent interview with pymnts.com.

“That is a big strategic priority for us, working with indoor partners such as Flywheel Sports, Peloton, Zwift, LiveRowing, to make sure that when you record [exercise]with those partners, the activity shows up in Strava, just like your run or ride would,” he added.

Most recently Strava partnered with MINDBODY, allowing athletes to use Strava to track any of the 5.2 million fitness classes and services offered via the booking platform. However, this new move is an ambitious plan from Quarles, who previously ran business operations at Instagram and before that worked at Facebook –– especially in the face of criticism around social networks’ use of data and respect of privacy.

Indeed, Strava’s route to two billion uploads hasn’t come without a few bumps in the road. In January the company made front page news when it was found that heat maps created by military personnel using the app were revealing the locations of military bases and sensitive sites in the Falkland Islands, Afghanistan and Syria.

Speaking about the heat map issues and public concerns revolving data privacy to The Guardian this June, Quarles insisted Strava’s goal is to encourage people to “put their phones down and sweat together”.

He added: “I think [negative stories about privacy relating to social networks]has opened people’s eyes, opened them to question what kind of community they want to be in, and I think the pendulum is swinging from generalised and unqualified networks to ones that are more vertical and qualified.

“People are looking for an alternative (social network) and we are very different. We’re not trying to maximise time spent in our app, we want people to put their phone down and sweat together. Our service encourages you to do something in your life that involves sweat.”

Gareth Mills, Strava’s UK Country Manager, added: “Our members know that there is more to being an athlete than working out, and being able to share stories, photos, ask questions and find tips and places to train adds to their experience. Clubs and posts allow the community to start new conversations as well as continue the conversations they have every day whilst exercising together.”

Should Quarles’ and Mills’ plans be realised, Strava could soon have an intimate understanding of exactly where, when, who with and how their members sweat. What they do with that information will surely draw more attention as its community continues to grow.

According to Crunchbase, Strava has raised a total of $41.9 million over six rounds since launching in 2009, most recently from a Series E round in February 2017.

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