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Personal Training at Home with the Sleek, Immersive FORME Studio

Aug 11, 2023

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Consistent motivation and engagement are the first steps toward effectiveness regarding fitness, a uniquely personal experience that (in ideal circumstances) should be tailored to each individual. As we all know, there's an array of highly publicized at-home gym options across various price points and styles, and often consumers must stumble through them to find something that connects. One popular sector of these offerings adopts the visual language of a full-length mirror—and the benefits are substantial.

Since June 2022, we have been taking part in FORME‘s fitness program, built around the immersive FORME Studio (which can be enhanced with a barre feature). Larger than its peers (reaching nearly six feet in height), the FORME Studio is an immersive portal into fitness that provides access to a live personal trainer, custom weekly workout plans built around on-demand content from experts and a detailed health-tracking system. The custom programs and health tracking can also transfer to FORME's iPhone and iPad apps so that people do not need to stop while they’re away from home.

A lot differentiates FORME from its competitors: more than just its scope and scale and the fact that it does pass as an impressive, intentional decor addition thanks to its sleek design by Yves Béhar. Differentiating factors include the seamless installation process and the continuously updated technology within. To join FORME and acquire a Studio means, first, being paired with a Fitness Concierge who orchestrates white glove installation (whether you decide to mount your Studio or rest it against the wall does not matter; though the same cannot be said for the FORME Lift, which incorporates tools required for strength training). The concierge also initiates a trainer match process. It's all high touch.

The core of our continued efforts, however, were due to the live, shared experience once a week with our real human trainer, Gary B. FORME launched with an elite set of trainers, including many drawn from the senior training and recruiting team at Equinox. Trainers go through an eight-week onboarding process, which enables them to learn the ins and outs of the technology. This future-forward tech includes two modes: Demonstration Mode, where the trainer demonstrates the workout move while occupying much of the screen, and Observation Mode, where the trainer's window shrinks into the corner allowing the trainee to observe their own movement in the reflective surface. This is supported by a rep countdown and text that explains the workout move that's coming up next. All of it's useful and works to support the trainee, but we found that it was Gary's attention to details and full-service approach that set the highest standard. Gary did not just lead us through the workout but enquired about nutrition, sleep and even mental comfortability. Based on the experience, Gary then proposed on-demand content to use throughout the week to support what we’d done together.

"I had a career in finance and I’ve always considered myself very left-brained and analytical. This all arose from a problem that I had and a need that I saw," Trent Ward, FORME's founder and CEO, shares with COOL HUNTING. "I found a creative outlet that I didn't know I had around this, imagining what this experience would be like." Ward grew up in California, played sports and spent a lot of time outdoors. After college, his fitness direction shifted toward marathons, yoga and pilates. When he started working from home and participating in sessions with his girlfriend's personal trainer, he realized that there were real benefits to using weights for mobility.

Also, there was the realization that "you do not need to be the one to do it even if you know how to do it," Ward says of planning a workout. "I was also conscious of the fact that having a trainer wasn't something everyone could afford. I asked, ‘How do we make this experience like having a trainer without having a trainer?’ That led down the connected hardware path. I then learned that a gym's cut of a training session is 60% or more. That made me think it was possible to get a coach in there, available when you want them, at a more affordable price."

All of that transformed into a design brief, initially based on weight training (in essence, what would later manifest as FORME Lift). "The first point of friction was: how do you get resistance without gravity? Weights are all gravity," he says. Ward emailed a few friends the idea and they arrived to the conclusion that whatever Ward invented needed a dual-arm cable machine. Another friend suggested Ward discuss this with Behar. "I met him in August 2016," Ward says. "I pitched him my idea. He sat there very stoically. He didn't say anything until, to my relief, he said, ‘This is interesting. I want to do it.'" Behar (who surfs and snowboards) has a passion for fitness and training. Immediately, he knew that it needed to be a mirror in order to fit into the design of a home while also allowing people to work on their technique.

"We wanted it to feel as immersive as possible. We wanted the edges to disappear—to have it feel like you’re there in the room with someone," Ward says. "This is an adult product. This is not a video game. You do not need to be entertained. It's about taking care of your body, so the design is about being restrained and refined. But when you turn on the Studio, it really comes to life."

The associated apps were designed to prevent people from using travel as an excuse to quit. "On average about 20% of the US works out regularly," Ward says. "But with working out, there is a lot in it in terms of ‘Are you comfortable doing it? Do you know how to do it?’ Just getting into a workout and into a normal routine is a lot of effort. It takes time and mental energy. Stepping away from a routine and then getting back into it can be demoralizing. It's the plodding consistency and adherence that drives success and the highest correlation to success is consistency." Aware that life always gets in the way, FORME began to develop technology that would allow people to continue uninterrupted.

As we continued to use the FORME Studio, technological advancements rolled out. "There are certain things we can do because it's digital. It's augmented," Ward says. "When the feature came out where you could see the exercise name on the screen, the first thing I noticed was I didn't have to interrupt my trainer to know what to do next. You are often having a conversation because the relationship and the trust is just as important. But there are constant interruptions." This was our experience as well, where, prompted by the text for the next move, we were often able to listen to what Gary had to say about holistic health or about our form.

"We want good information architecture to keep the cognitive load as low as possible," Ward explains. "On the trainer side, however, there's access to elements like joint angles and more about the trainee as a tool to modify performance." Ward says regarding new tech developments that, "Our trainers are the best source for new ideas and how to make things better" because they’re actively testing out every feature.

FORME's content is holistic in nature, and content stretches from strength training to yoga, meditation and breathing. A heart rate monitor and mat come with the FORME Studio. No additional equipment is necessary, though resistance bands or weights can unlock more workouts. Overall, it's about a feeling of support, which Gary provided, and removing blockades, which we found through the mobility of the app.

"Activity, nutrition, recovery and mindset are all connected. It is a puzzle and that's one of the reasons that it helps to have an expert to talk to you," Ward says. "At the end of the day, we’re a coaching business. Whether it's the hardware on its own with our content, which is very tech-driven coaching, or all the way to Gary, who is tech-enabled, the technology is there to support the humans."

Images courtesy of FORME

David Graver is COOL HUNTING's Editor in Chief. His areas of expertise include art, film, fashion, travel and hospitality, with further specialization in watches and spirits. David represents COOL HUNTING around the world at events including Baselworld, Milan Design Week, Miami Art Week, Tales of the Cocktail and New York Fashion Week, as well as gallery openings, product launches and cultural happenings.