From being a fitness freak to be a full-time gym trainer, Hayden Steele has survived it all. To know about his inspiration behind the women-centric fitness app and his future goals, MobileAppDaily team had an interview with Hayden, which is more like a complete journey of the app development stage. Click here to read the featured article on the MobileAppDaily site.
1. Can you introduce your app and yourself to our readers?
SHOCK has been an on-going project for us over the last four years. Personal training has never felt like a job to me. It’s been a passion, something I thoroughly love to do. The relationships built, the lives changed and transformations I see.
A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I started living by myself at age 16. My parents were divorced and my dad had just re-married. He was moving into a new house. Somehow, I was able to persuade my dad into letting me turn the house he was moving out of…into a gym!
For months, my dad and I worked on converting the living room into a gym floor, we even put those giant gym mirrors on the living room walls. I moved into the house, and each night I slept on a couch that was positioned next to a dumbbell rack and a wood floor covered with yoga mats.
I woke myself up every morning before school and began training clients around 5:00 AM. I would train clients until school began, come home after school and train the rest of the day. Go to bed, and repeat. I’ve always been driven, but this was definitely where it all started.
Before age 18, I earned three personal training certifications from The Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas. I graduated from Oklahoma State University, where I became an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Oklahoma State Cowboys football program, and the Head Strength Coach for Men’s and Women’s Tennis.
Today, I still do private one-on-one personal training sessions, I’m a business partner at Inertia Fitness (a private health club), and Ashley and I now can add our SHOCK app to the list of our full-time jobs!
Ashley has been involved in competitive sports, track, and soccer, since grade school, and competed in pageants. She developed a love and passion for fitness at a young age and has carried it with her. Helping others achieve their fitness goals and find confidence in themselves is what drives her most.
2. Why did you choose women as your target audience and not men?
SHOCK was created based on the most recent research in exercise science. Ashley and I wanted to continue to help change the narrative that strength training is just as important for women as it is for men.
In 1968, Dr. Cooper published his book titled “Aerobics” and brought his groundbreaking invention to the general public. In his book, Dr. Cooper spoke out fervently against lifting weights and strength training, saying,
“overall weightlifting was really only good for one thing….weightlifting.”
Dr. Cooper’s growing influence combined with a booming bias towards cardio exercise resulted in strength training being overlooked and understudied. The aerobic craze in the’70s and 80’s also pushed a stereotype that strength training was for men and cardio was for women.
In the last 20 years, exercise has been nearly researched to death when it comes to its metabolic and fat-burning prowess, but recent results indicate that high-intensity exercise, is arguably more important for women than it is for men.
One of the best-known natural ways to promote hormonal balance in women is through exercise, and through intensity-based training, women can unleash the power of the key hormones that will help them reach their fitness goals. This, in essence, is the SHOCK Training system.
3. You have both a fitness gym and a mobile app.
A. How has the app impacted your business?
SHOCK has impacted my business in more ways than I could have imagined. It’s also opened up both Ashley and me to a global audience, and we love that! I think having an app has given me more credibility as a personal trainer. It’s opened up doors for me on all fronts, from contributing to magazine articles or interview opportunities such as this one!
B. Do you think fitness mobile apps can replace personal trainers or physical gyms?
I don’t think fitness apps are a replacement for gyms or personal trainers. Fitness apps and gyms work together: the gym provides an awesome environment for fitness apps to be used because gyms have more equipment than what most people have at home. Fitness apps also work great for people who can’t go to the gym, by providing them with home workout programs.
Fitness apps are a very viable alternative for those who would like personal training guidance but either can’t afford a personal trainer, have gym anxiety, or simply don’t want to hire a personal trainer. I don’t think fitness apps will ever replace personal trainers.
Personal trainers help people in so many ways: the friendships developed, the motivation they provide specific to the client, and outside the box decisions personal trainers can make to help choose the right exercises for clients who have injuries.
4. What is it that SHOCK offers that other million fitness apps in the app stores don’t?
1. Customized personal training programs based on the current fitness level
SHOCK has four training levels that offer unique programs and exercises designed to cater to your abilities. We’ve designed SHOCK so that a beginner can pick up this app and progress their fitness level safely and effectively. At the same time, ladies looking for more advanced programs can also pick up this app, jump right in, and start crushing workouts!
2. Training Guidance
SHOCK uses a unique formula to provide users a target heart rate for each strength training workout. Each workout is divided into four zones, and the target heart rate changes during each zone of the workout.
Users who have an Apple Watch get the benefit of our app automatically telling them if they reached their goals at the end of each zone. If a user doesn’t achieve their target HR goal, SHOCK provides tips to help users know what they can do to reach their target HR during the next zone. This adds a deeper level of personal training to the app.
Users who don’t have an Apple Watch aren’t out of luck! Our app allows these users to track their HR manually or they can choose to use our built-in RPE scale and SHOCK will provide users feedback based on their rate of perceived exertion.
3. Targeted Workouts
SHOCK asks a series of questions when users first sign up for our app, based on the answers to these questions, we develop a program specific to each user. Not only is it specific to fitness level, but it’s also specific to goals.
Let’s say a user wishes to focus on their arms and abs. SHOCK provides customized challenge workouts that target their exact goals. These targeted workouts are also specific to fitness level. For example, a level 1 user who has the same fitness goal as a level 2 user, won’t have the same workout.
Each of these targeted workouts will be designed for their current fitness level. This adds a very deep level of customization to each program in SHOCK.
4. Alternate Exercises
SHOCK has an alternate option for each exercise in the app. This allows our program to be used almost anywhere! For instance, you might have an exercise that uses weights, but we provide a bodyweight alternative that can be performed at home.
A. What were the biggest challenges you faced in the development process of SHOCK?
5. As an app client,
I remember when Ashley and I first started working on SHOCK, when we would tell people that we were creating a fitness app, they would almost kind of smile and laugh…like “sure you are.”
There are so many fitness apps out there, that I think most people assume you’re doing something “cookie cutter.” That’s not what Ashley and I did. We created an app that isn’t like anything else. We literally took a training system designed for women and figured out a way to put that system in the form of an app. This was very hard.
I think the biggest challenge for us was figuring out the entire process. We interviewed companies all over the world and actually began to work with a company that we ended up not using. This was our first set back.
When we finally found the company we wanted to use, one of the greatest challenges we had was communication. App companies understand apps, and personal trainers understand the exercise. Ashley and I literally had to teach our developers about exercise, so that they could understand our concepts.
They also had to teach us about development, so we could understand how we can put these concepts into the form of an app. This was a process that took more than a year, but it became got easier and easier as we developed SHOCK.
It was also extremely challenging to decide which features to incorporate into the app. Everyone has a different preference for what they find valuable in an app, and we wanted to make sure we brought the best features in a user-friendly manner.
B. Any highlights from that process
Traveling to LA where Ashley did a photoshoot on a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles. Ashley worked for over 10 hours two days in a row shooting exercise images for our app. It was incredible.
I was the most stressed the week of our video shoot. I knew that SHOCK would live or die by the quality of our videos. In essence, this is what has to be great for users to perform our app correctly.
I had a huge list of exercises, but also I had to try to make this as easy on Ashley as I could. No one can physically perform lower body exercises for 6 hours in a row, so I had to try to mix up our body parts when we were shooting, but also not lose track of where we were so that we didn’t miss anything.
Ashley was absolutely amazing. I look back and don’t know how she did three days in a row of shooting exercise videos for 10 hours or more each day, with very little breaks.
One of my favorite parts in development was designing SHOCK. I love design and graphics, and I also found a very skilled designer to take what I created and make it better. For me, that was a lot of fun.
Overall, we both enjoy working together as a team and bringing to life the designs that were in our heads.
C. Your advice to to-be app owners of fitness apps or just health apps in general.
Be sure to do the research and know what you’re getting into before you start the development process. Know the market and what is available. What problems is your app going to solve that other apps aren’t solving? What is your app providing to purchasers that other apps are not providing?
It’s an amazing feeling when you get on the App Store, but the journey to get there can feel defeating at times.
Ashley and I had moments of tears during the SHOCK app creation process. Literal tears. We went through times where we both thought, “we can’t do this anymore,” but we never quit! Each trial we endured made Ashley and I stronger. I think a lot of this was due to our mindset.
It’s 100% normal to face trials and difficulties during the app development process. It will happen, so prepare for it. Fight the negative self-talk during the hard times. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of.
6. What’s the next big step in SHOCK’s journey?
We have a lot of exciting plans and ideas for SHOCK in the future! We are constantly looking for ways to improve our app and develop new features; but, Ashley and I are keeping these plans secret! A lot of exciting things to come for SHOCK!
7. Are you planning to integrate any new updates or technology like AI or VR to make the experience more immersive?
Absolutely. As technology changes, we plan to adapt SHOCK with that technology to improve the experience for our users.
8. Your app is mostly a video-based fitness app. Can users find these video tutorials on any other platform other than in the app? If yes, how are those lessons different than ones found in the app?
Yes, my Instagram @haydensteelefit, Ashley’s Instagram @ashleysteelefit, and our SHOCK Instagram @shockfitapp. We are also working on growing our YouTube channel @shocktraining. On each of these social media platforms, you can find videos that dive deeper into exercise specifics, such as, “how low should you squat?” We are also working on content for nutrition tips, and we like to answer questions that people send to us in direct messages on social media.
9. You must have browsed all your options before getting your app developed. Did you reach out to offshore or freelance app developers for SHOCK?
Yes, absolutely. We looked for app developers all over the world! We used a company based in San Francisco, but also has offices in other countries.
Our development team consisted of people in multiple countries, so we got the best of both worlds. There are so many skilled app developers, both in the United State and abroad.
10. Are you working on any new updates? If yes, we would love to know more about it.
Yes! However, we are keeping the details secret until we release it!
11. If you could get SHOCK built once again, all from scratch, would you do anything differently?
No, and I am surprised to be able to say that! We put 100% effort into making SHOCK, and we are blessed to be able to look back and have no regrets.