Holy crap, it’s cold! And from the latest weather report, things don’t look like they’re getting much better anytime soon, which makes getting out of the house and to the gym a little more challenging. So what do you do if you want the class experience in your building gym, living room or hotel room? Let me introduce you to FORTË.
FORTË streams live and on-demand avant-garde fitness classes (i.e. Barre, Yoga, Boxing, Pilates, Running, Spinning, HIIT, Meditation) from worldwide boutique studios like Exhale, Aerospace, Centered City Yoga and Flex Studios directly to your mobile device. Yes, you read that right – everything you love about your group fitness classes brought directly to you.
I was lucky enough to grab some time from Lauren Foundos, the founder and CEO (and general badass chick) of FORTË to find out what brought on this amazing platform.
aSweatLife: Tell us about FORTË.
Lauren Foundos: FORTË is a tech and subscription-based fitness streaming platform. We have built hardware and software that we install in a boutique fitness studio so they can seamlessly stream live classes directly to our platform. After a class streams live, it goes into our on-demand database for continued consumption. Think Netflix for boutique fitness classes. Now you will have the option to work out at premiere boutique fitness studios via your smartphone, laptop, iPad or TV.
Also, your wearables (i.e. Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple Watch, any heart rate monitor, etc.) will sync to the platform allowing you to track your performance in real-time on our live leaderboards, as well as monitor your personal and overall achievements. (This functionality is in development and is scheduled to be released winter 2017.) Presently, if you reserve a spot for an upcoming live class, the coach is notified and you can be sure that you’ll get a shout-out. Messaging, group chats, following a studio (coach or another user), our mobile application, 360 video, multi-directional streaming and more are all coming soon.
And you can expect surprises sent home to our super users, retreats with your favorite coaches and a whole lot of sweaty fun to occur.
aSL: Tell us about yourself.
LF: Before launching FORTË, I spent a decade working on Wall Street. [Now] it’s exciting to be building a company that fuels the core of my existence. My earliest childhood memories all revolve around trying to keep up with my older brothers, hoping they would include me in whatever sport they were playing at the time. My father immigrated to America and has always instilled in myself and my brothers the importance of education and a strong work ethic. He made us work hard for the things we wanted and expected nothing but the best from us which seemed frustrating at times, but today, I couldn’t be more grateful for those lessons.
aSL: What inspired you to launch this website?
LF: The catalyst for the FORTË vision was from taking my Wall Street clients to work out with me before our dinners. It was primarily for selfish reasons. It was getting progressively harder to wake up so early to make it on time to the trading floor in the mornings that I decided to make it part of my evening’s work activities. Working out at studios with clients fostered my business relationships and ultimately was the backbone for some of my most cherished friendships, and the foundation for many new incredible ones.
As I began to fall hard for studios, my vision for FORTË began to crystalize. Somehow, someway, with no engineering background whatsoever, I decided that I must build this technology company, and that I must enable these incredible pioneers in the boutique fitness industry to reach beyond the confines of their walls so that they could share their magic with the world.
aSL: What makes FORTË different from other apps?
LF: We bring the increasingly popular in-studio boutique experience directly to the people. The content is real, it’s relevant, it’s unedited, it’s real life. A remote user is going to watch a weight loss transformation right before their very eyes. Can you imagine now sweating beside or with – whether in studio or remotely – that person every day, you’re going to be rooting for one another. It’s going to be that unspoken camaraderie that turns your spotty workout routine into your daily ritual.
The FORTË platform is for the people. We’ll be taking requests for custom content that you would like the coaches to create. We want to build platform features that you specifically ask for and we want to add studios that you specifically recommend.
aSL: What is your favorite type of class?
LF: In NYC, I love to frequent Tone House, Barry’s Bootcamp, Flywheel, Mile High Run Club and hit the track with Nike’s Run Club. If it’s torture, count me in!
As I’ve left my 20s and entered my 30s, I’ve become more cognizant of rest and recovery days. I want to be able to work out forever, so I’ve been adding a lot more low-impact but hard-as-hell workouts like Core Fusion Barre [at Exhale] with Founders, Fred Devito and Elisabeth Halfpapp to my routine. The smaller the movement, the more it seems to burn. I highly recommend getting involved if you aren’t already – and yes, guys, this includes you, too!
aSL: How do I sign up?
LF: Currently, FORTË is by invitation-only. Visit www.forte.fit and with the invitation code ‘asweatlife,’ you can join our tribe and sweat with us.
Come the New Year, we will continue to add more studios and begin charging a monthly subscription service fee. You will be clearly notified before this begins. We don’t want to trick anyone into joining anything. We want you to want us!
Due to the fact that our engineers are still coding and typing away to complete our awesome social, wearable and interactive features, we don’t feel that we can charge you the full value of our membership service at this time. We are offering early adopter pricing for anyone that joins in the first three months as the entirety of the platform is coded.
We have rapid expansion plans and can easily tech out a studio within days and have them live streaming. You can expect to see us selecting studios from Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Boston, Toronto, London and Sydney next, or wherever boutique fitness magic may be hiding. We want to find it and bring it to you!