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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Refining augmented reality

London boutique The Refinery has created an avatar-led digital fitness offering called ALFI, which utilises augmented reality (AR) to demonstrate movements. Zoe Bertali, one of the co-founders of the gym, tells us more

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 2
Zoe Bertali, co-founder of The Refiner / The Refinery
Zoe Bertali, co-founder of The Refiner / The Refinery
We developed an algorithm that would be used to build the classes intelligently from a minimum of 10 minutes up to 90 minutes. We then filmed our instructors using 3D motion capture

Where did the idea for ALFI come from?
In 2018, boutique fitness was booming, but it seemed to be London-centric and we wanted to bring the experience to other locations in the UK. We were at the time considering the possibility of opening more bricks and mortar sites, however we believed that in order to really grow our brand and reach more people, we needed to move into the digital space.

We also wanted to be able to offer huge amounts of classes very quickly at the touch of a button. With the logic and method we have created, we can bring a new discipline to the app with hundreds of classes in around 6-8 weeks. Live video filming of this type of content would take much longer.

Why do you think an avatar is a great way to deliver fitness instruction?
In the age of endless selfies, people are under pressure to look ‘perfect’, live their ‘best’ life, always be ‘busy’, do the latest exercise in the coolest places, be seen constantly, experience everything, eat this, don’t eat that... It’s no wonder people are crumbling under the pressure and that mental health issues, stress and depression are on the rise.

Although some people may be inspired by apps showing the perfect body doing the perfect yoga or fitness practice, for most it is unattainable and inaccessible. With Refine with ALFI, it’s what’s inside that counts – the glow comes from within!

Building resilience and strength from the inside gives people the space to reconnect with what’s really important – grounding them in the moment, which has a tremendous calming effect on the entire nervous system, strengthening the immune system and the body’s ability to heal itself.

How did you develop ALFI?
We started with the two most popular disciplines at our The Refinery studio – Yoga and HIIT. We then developed and built a logic algorithm that would be used to build the classes intelligently from a minimum of 10 minutes up to 90 minutes.

We wanted the classes to be seamless, so for yoga the challenges came when we had to think about all the potential transitions between each posture and sequence. We then filmed our instructors doing the exercises using 3D motion capture. This information was then translated onto our avatar using the Unity gaming engine.

How did you design the avatar?
Initially we had the concept of making the avatar a big furry monster, but we realised that the movement and form would not be seen as clearly. We therefore developed the avatar to be a neutral humanoid shape. Eventually we may introduce the furry avatar, for fun!

Can users customise the avatar?
We’re able to introduce a lot of features, such as different avatars, accessories, and outfits. We will eventually have a lot more shapes and sizes as we grow the app.

Why did you decide to make the app AR compatible?
We were fascinated with the possibilities of using AR technology, as we felt that most other fitness apps don’t give you such a personal experience. With our app, ALFI will eventually offer you the possibility of having your personalised PT up close and personal. It also allows a completely unique way of working out by offering a 360-degree view of all poses and the class.

Will users need to wear AR glasses?
AR hardware is just around the corner! The glasses are now much more like a pair of reading glasses, so you put them on and you are able to interact with your phone without the use of a static screen. This means that ALFI will be in the room with you and you will be able to see the moves in life size.

Take a look at our teaser AR app to get an experience of this. AR is much more accessible for fitness than VR as it is less immersive and therefore you remain fully aware of your environment around you.

How do you create bespoke classes for the user?
In either Yoga or HIIT you are able to take a studio class which has been set up for you, or you can build your own class. Within the algorithm there are different levels of intensity and also focus areas, so, for instance, you could build a 20-minute Power Yoga class that has a focus on hips.

How will this digital offering complement your in-club offering?
The fundamental objective of ALFI is to inspire and motivate the individual to create a health and fitness routine that makes them feel better from the inside out. We very much see the app as a complement to members’ in-studio training programme. We will offer our members the app as a way for them to stay engaged if they are away from home, or unable to get to the studio.

Tell us about the tokens and charity aspect of the app. Why did you decide on this feature?
We created the token system as a way to still be able to offer social collaboration and recognition for the user. We use virtual rewards for achieving goals – you can use the tokens to buy classes, gift to a friend or give to charity. We wanted the karma element of giving something back when you are doing something amazing for yourself – taking care of your health!

What are your future plans and goals for ALFI?
We will be adding more disciplines in the next 12 months – including Pilates and Body Conditioning. We will also be developing new avatars and environments.

How do you think AR will change the fitness industry?
It will allow on-demand flexibility with the ability to recreate a studio experience with a personal touch.

Refine with ALFI is available now in the Apple app store

Using an avatar rather than a human instructor will allow The Refinery to bring new content to the app more quickly / The Refinery
Using an avatar rather than a human instructor will allow The Refinery to bring new content to the app more quickly / The Refinery
Bertali says the app will complement members’ in-studio training / The Refinery
Bertali says the app will complement members’ in-studio training / The Refinery
In the near future, users will be able to use AR glasses with the app / The Refinery
In the near future, users will be able to use AR glasses with the app / The Refinery
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2021/605779_523633.jpg
London boutique The Refinery has created an avatar-led digital offering
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Diary dates
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07-10 Apr 2022
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features

Refining augmented reality

London boutique The Refinery has created an avatar-led digital fitness offering called ALFI, which utilises augmented reality (AR) to demonstrate movements. Zoe Bertali, one of the co-founders of the gym, tells us more

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 2
Zoe Bertali, co-founder of The Refiner / The Refinery
Zoe Bertali, co-founder of The Refiner / The Refinery
We developed an algorithm that would be used to build the classes intelligently from a minimum of 10 minutes up to 90 minutes. We then filmed our instructors using 3D motion capture

Where did the idea for ALFI come from?
In 2018, boutique fitness was booming, but it seemed to be London-centric and we wanted to bring the experience to other locations in the UK. We were at the time considering the possibility of opening more bricks and mortar sites, however we believed that in order to really grow our brand and reach more people, we needed to move into the digital space.

We also wanted to be able to offer huge amounts of classes very quickly at the touch of a button. With the logic and method we have created, we can bring a new discipline to the app with hundreds of classes in around 6-8 weeks. Live video filming of this type of content would take much longer.

Why do you think an avatar is a great way to deliver fitness instruction?
In the age of endless selfies, people are under pressure to look ‘perfect’, live their ‘best’ life, always be ‘busy’, do the latest exercise in the coolest places, be seen constantly, experience everything, eat this, don’t eat that... It’s no wonder people are crumbling under the pressure and that mental health issues, stress and depression are on the rise.

Although some people may be inspired by apps showing the perfect body doing the perfect yoga or fitness practice, for most it is unattainable and inaccessible. With Refine with ALFI, it’s what’s inside that counts – the glow comes from within!

Building resilience and strength from the inside gives people the space to reconnect with what’s really important – grounding them in the moment, which has a tremendous calming effect on the entire nervous system, strengthening the immune system and the body’s ability to heal itself.

How did you develop ALFI?
We started with the two most popular disciplines at our The Refinery studio – Yoga and HIIT. We then developed and built a logic algorithm that would be used to build the classes intelligently from a minimum of 10 minutes up to 90 minutes.

We wanted the classes to be seamless, so for yoga the challenges came when we had to think about all the potential transitions between each posture and sequence. We then filmed our instructors doing the exercises using 3D motion capture. This information was then translated onto our avatar using the Unity gaming engine.

How did you design the avatar?
Initially we had the concept of making the avatar a big furry monster, but we realised that the movement and form would not be seen as clearly. We therefore developed the avatar to be a neutral humanoid shape. Eventually we may introduce the furry avatar, for fun!

Can users customise the avatar?
We’re able to introduce a lot of features, such as different avatars, accessories, and outfits. We will eventually have a lot more shapes and sizes as we grow the app.

Why did you decide to make the app AR compatible?
We were fascinated with the possibilities of using AR technology, as we felt that most other fitness apps don’t give you such a personal experience. With our app, ALFI will eventually offer you the possibility of having your personalised PT up close and personal. It also allows a completely unique way of working out by offering a 360-degree view of all poses and the class.

Will users need to wear AR glasses?
AR hardware is just around the corner! The glasses are now much more like a pair of reading glasses, so you put them on and you are able to interact with your phone without the use of a static screen. This means that ALFI will be in the room with you and you will be able to see the moves in life size.

Take a look at our teaser AR app to get an experience of this. AR is much more accessible for fitness than VR as it is less immersive and therefore you remain fully aware of your environment around you.

How do you create bespoke classes for the user?
In either Yoga or HIIT you are able to take a studio class which has been set up for you, or you can build your own class. Within the algorithm there are different levels of intensity and also focus areas, so, for instance, you could build a 20-minute Power Yoga class that has a focus on hips.

How will this digital offering complement your in-club offering?
The fundamental objective of ALFI is to inspire and motivate the individual to create a health and fitness routine that makes them feel better from the inside out. We very much see the app as a complement to members’ in-studio training programme. We will offer our members the app as a way for them to stay engaged if they are away from home, or unable to get to the studio.

Tell us about the tokens and charity aspect of the app. Why did you decide on this feature?
We created the token system as a way to still be able to offer social collaboration and recognition for the user. We use virtual rewards for achieving goals – you can use the tokens to buy classes, gift to a friend or give to charity. We wanted the karma element of giving something back when you are doing something amazing for yourself – taking care of your health!

What are your future plans and goals for ALFI?
We will be adding more disciplines in the next 12 months – including Pilates and Body Conditioning. We will also be developing new avatars and environments.

How do you think AR will change the fitness industry?
It will allow on-demand flexibility with the ability to recreate a studio experience with a personal touch.

Refine with ALFI is available now in the Apple app store

Using an avatar rather than a human instructor will allow The Refinery to bring new content to the app more quickly / The Refinery
Using an avatar rather than a human instructor will allow The Refinery to bring new content to the app more quickly / The Refinery
Bertali says the app will complement members’ in-studio training / The Refinery
Bertali says the app will complement members’ in-studio training / The Refinery
In the near future, users will be able to use AR glasses with the app / The Refinery
In the near future, users will be able to use AR glasses with the app / The Refinery
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2021/605779_523633.jpg
London boutique The Refinery has created an avatar-led digital offering
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Boxx has launched a new generation punch bag and smart punch trackers that work with ...
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The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) and BBC Storyworks have struck up a partnership to create ...
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Opinion
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FitnessOnDemand’s divisional vice president Uday Anumalachetty discusses what live fitness really means for clubs and their members today
Opinion: Why we need to reimagine what live fitness really means
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: INTEGRATE INNOVATE INVIGORATE with Power Plate
Moving into a new era of health and wellness, Power Plate has extended their popular Black edition range to enable health clubs and fitness studios to integrate vibration training seamlessly into their facilities.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: 1Rebel enlists FunXtion to elevate its revolutionary, customer-driven RIG concept
A partnership with FunXtion and its MultiScreen Solution software has allowed 1Rebel to enhance its in-club experience to a much more connected and engaged level.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Being active helps Parkwood Leisure customers save the NHS £16m
Parkwood Leisure, one of the UK’s leading public leisure facilities operators, helped prevent more than 7,000 cases of stroke, dementia, depression and type 2 diabetes in 2019, saving the NHS £16 million, a new social value report has shown.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Company profiles
Company profile: Gympass
On a mission to defeat inactivity, Gympass is a corporate wellness solution that builds mutually ...
Company profiles
Company profile: FIBO Global Fitness
FIBO Global Fitness is the leading international trade show for fitness, wellness & health....
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Fitness equipment
Precor: Fitness equipment
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Exercise equipment
Power Plate: Exercise equipment
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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