Empowering women through fitness: Tone & Sculpt discusses its approach to working out in COVID times

The coronavirus pandemic has affected everybody in different ways and this has been seen no more than in people’s approaches (or lack of) to fitness this year. Some have used the increased time indoors to get fit and healthy (I may let you feel my new abs if you ask nicely), while others have taken the opposite approach and over-indulged.

One app that helps people to work on the former is Tone & Sculpt. The female-focused fitness and nutrition app, co-founded by fitness influencer Krissy Cela and Jack Bullimore, saw over 400,000 downloads after its relaunch in January and reported an 88 per cent growth in downloads and 261 per cent increase in annual turnover between April 2019 and April 2020.

“We started by designing workout eBooks for women and these ranged from resistance training to student workout guides. We were blown away by their success and sold over 30,000 in a matter of days,” says Bullimore, Co-founder and Chief Technical Officer for Tone & Sculpt.

“We wanted to build an app where women could access all these workouts and more to suit their lifestyles and fitness goals, all in one place. Our aim has always been to show women that fitness and nutrition go hand in hand and is simple. An app would give our clients the ability to access their workouts quickly and seamlessly, without needing to scroll or search different platforms.

“The app allows us to share recipes for different dietary requirements too and it’s a single, intuitive platform where women can choose and tailor their workout plans and meals quickly and easily.”

Cela has long had a passion for empowering women through health and fitness. And, as you may have gathered, the app’s focus is women’s health and fitness, with a particular focus on resistance training, an area of fitness typically dominated by men.

So, with Cela’s huge audience of over 2.3m Instagram followers and more than 633,000 YouTube subscribers, the app’s founders set out on a social-first journey to deliver accessible fitness opportunities to women around the world.

“Initially, we used Krissy’s social media platforms, Instagram and YouTube, to promote the app,” says Bullimore. “In the early stages, we focused on growing the Tone & Sculpt community organically and invested only a minimal amount in non-influencer-based marketing.”

As time progressed and we eventually slipped into lockdowns as a result of the coronavirus, there was an opportunity for Tone & Sculpt to capitalise on gym closures and the fact that people would be spending a lot more time at home and in need of something to keep them going.

In response to the UK’s first lockdown, Tone & Sculpt launched its ‘Sculpt It’ guide, a 28-minute circuit-based programme which remains one of the app’s most popular guides. The app then followed this up at the end the first lockdown with a ‘Back to Action’ workout guide to ease its users back into gym-based workouts.

These guides were promoted across social media and through paid ads, “generating a great response from both our existing and new users,” according to Bullimore.

Tone & Sculpt also entered into a partnership with Student Beans to run a student discount promotion.

On the back of the first lockdown and these campaigns and promotions, the average number of workouts completed per month on the app increased by 126 per cent, while the number of times users worked out each week increased by 20 per cent.

“Compared to what you would expect seasonally, we have seen an increase in consumer demand during the lockdown periods in the UK and the US. Lockdown has most definitely led to a change in consumer exercise behaviour and this has benefitted app-based personal training products like Tone & Sculpt,” says Bullimore.

“With gym closures, people have been looking for alternative ways to work out from home and there has been an increased focus on exercise being key to a healthy routine, physically and mentally. We saw more users joining our platform as they looked for alternatives and we noticed a behaviour shift from our gym guides to home guides.”

Looking ahead, Bullimore says the app will continue to have its community as its number one priority. Tone & Sculpt has also welcomed a new trainer, Danyele Wilson, who is based in Chicago and will help the app to target its US customer base through her guides and increased visibility in the region.

“We will continue to use rigorous focus group data and user testing to ensure our app is suitable and increasingly intuitive for all women. We are constantly developing our programmes and introducing new workouts to reach more people… We will continue to use our social media communities and paid ad campaigns to reach as many women as possible and to show them Tone & Sculpt is all they need to make fitness simple, empowering and accessible,” concludes Bullimore.

The Tone & Sculpt app is available from £13.99 on Google Play and the App Store.