If you’ve ever wished exercising was as easy as ordering take-out, you’re in luck. A Houston tech start-up from German-born attorney Sylvia Kampshoff last month launched Kanthaka, an Uber-like app for personal training and yoga sessions.
Users download the app, choose a frequency (monthly package or single session) and location (home, gym, office, park, or anywhere they please), set the date and time, and select a certified personal trainer, who is paid securely through the app.
Kampshoff’s stated goal is to remove the inconveniences of a traditional gym membership and, with that, the excuses to skip a workout. She understands the struggle—a demanding, often late-night schedule as an attorney left her short on time to hit the gym, and missing training sessions cost her hundreds of dollars.
That was problematic, as Kampshoff counts fitness as a primary passion. “I’m only happy if I can move at least once a day,” she says. “Otherwise I think, ‘what is all this?’ Just working can be really frustrating.”
For years, Kampshoff and her husband—also searching for a personal trainer—went back and forth on the idea of creating a fitness app, but she only took the plunge after going on maternity leave.
“They gave me six months off, and after the six month I was already so far along with the app that I thought, ‘I need to do this now. I really love it. I’m going to take the risk,’” she says.
So—shortly after Kampshoff’s first son—Kanthaka was born, named after Buddha’s favorite horse, a nod to the culture and sense of community Kampshoff hopes to foster with her endeavor. She also hopes to reach others like her, with busy schedules and difficulty fitting in weekly workouts and nuances of finding the right trainer
“It’s really made clients super happy,” she says. “You pay when you train, and it’s so easy that basically there’s no excuse not to train.”
Users can access fitness reports from their trainers, which document workout progress, and enter eating habits, personal goals, and health conditions to fast-track a training session. If, like Kampshoff, clients must skip out on a workout last-minute, the app offers a free three-hour cancellation policy.
Though it's marketed as the Uber for personal training, there aren’t random people showing up at clients’ doorsteps. Kampshoff stresses the importance of safety, and each Kanthaka trainer must pass a background check and in-person interview and provide proof of their certifications and insurance.
“Clients have told me that it’s so difficult to find a trainer because there are some websites for finding trainers, but you don’t know anything about them,” Kampshoff says.
With its closest competitor in Los Angeles, Kanthaka is the only on-demand personal training app in the area. Kampshoff hopes to expand beyond Houston to Texas at-large and, eventually, nationwide. Her long-term vision also includes a nutrition element and added community-building features where clients can connect with others for motivation. Plus, the company is donating 5 percent of its net profit over the next few months to build a mentor system for underprivileged kids with less access to healthy food and fitness.
“The app is supposed to be a boutique gym, but easier, accessible, and affordable,” Kampshoff says. “We don’t want to be only Uber-like. There’s really supposed to be a culture behind it.”
Kanthaka is available for free download on iOS devices in the Apple Store.