Introducing the Pilates Metrics App: The Intersection of Big Data and Healthcare

by: | Nov 16, 2016

There is a lot of excitement about the potential impact of mobile and big data in healthcare — and legitimately so. Especially when it comes to how “big data” gathered from millions of mobile device users can provide insights about different behaviors to improve our global society’s collective health.

pilates-metrics-app-iconWe’re happy to share the news that a game-changing health and fitness app for iPad has just launched in the Apple iTunes App Store: Pilates Metrics.

Pilates Metrics started as an idea from the owners of Real People Pilates studio in Berkeley. Inspired in part by Moneyball and the analytics revolution that has changed professional baseball, Joseph and Karinne Quinn saw an opportunity to track and capture the fine details of Pilates sessions — including muscles activated, joints impacted, planes of motion engaged, and most importantly, the big picture: a client’s progress over a period of time. The app, designed and developed by ArcTouch, targets Pilates instructors and their clients. It helps instructors keep a detailed practice history and customize specific exercises and activities for future sessions based on past performance. But that’s just the start.

The problems the Pilates Metrics app solves

Many of today’s most advanced Pilates instructors are still using pen and paper, or a one-size-fits-all personal training app which has nothing to do with Pilates, to track a client’s activity and progress. The Pilates Metrics app allows instructors to schedule personalized client sessions with Pilates-specific apparatuses, exercises, and language. In addition to a modern means of collecting and tracking data, users also benefit from being able to visually see their progress from each session.

The vision for the Pilates Metrics app extends far beyond beautiful data visualizations. By quantifying performance statistics for both instructors and clients alike, the Pilates Metrics team believes that over time they can aggregate and anonymize this information, and ultimately show a correlation between Pilates activity and rehabilitation and wellness.

The opportunity to enter the “big data” – especially the big data in healthcare sphere – and bring Pilates to the mainstream as a form of rehabilitation will be no small task. But the Pilates Metrics team is already being recognized for their innovation in the sector. In fact, Pfizer and Galvanize recognized Pilates Metrics as one of the 10 most exciting and innovative startups in digital health. And while it may take time to position Pilates as a reputable rehabilitation method (and potential alternative to physical therapy), the shared knowledge gathered through the app and its users will allow Pilates Metrics to build and develop supporting research that informs both clients and practitioners.

The Pilates Metrics app project 411

Any successful app project starts with a vision — and in some cases, perseverance. After closing their business in the Bay Area and deciding to move back to Karinne’s family farm to save money for development, the Quinns received some surprising news: they would soon be having their second child.

Still, the Quinns remained committed to the app project, and they came to ArcTouch to start with an app discovery and strategy session. From that session, a first-generation app was defined. Working side by side, the ArcTouch product team and the Pilates Metrics team built a concept app in late 2015, in time for the industry’s biggest annual event, Pilates Method Alliance Conference. Joseph demonstrated the app on his iPad to enthusiastic industry folks, forging some key relationships and gaining valuable insights to apply to his burgeoning business. It also helped steer the direction of the app as it stands today.

Fast forward to 2016, and the first public release of the Pilates Metrics app.

It was a very dynamic, agile process — one that solves a clear problem through a process that prioritized an adaptive customer feedback loop, employing insights from the industry it serves. The ArcTouch and Pilates Metrics teams are exceptionally proud of the Pilates Metrics app — including some of the unusual steps to get to the first release.

“Pilates requires very elaborate equipment, and we actually built a Pilates studio inside ArcTouch,” Joseph said. “ArcTouch team members were absolutely immersed in the project. They wanted to see firsthand what instructors and clients experience so they could provide the best service. I don’t know how many firms would allow that.”

ArcTouch Pilates Metrics studio

Equipment located in the back of ArcTouch’s San Francisco office helped our team become more familiar with the promise of Pilates during development of Pilates Metrics.

App design and engineering highlights

With every project, we find ways to include “surprise and delight” features — usually little things we’re proud of that can transform a mundane user task into an engaging experience that keeps people coming back.

For the Pilates Metrics app, one such highlight was a calendar component that allows instructors to efficiently schedule a series of sessions, for example 10 recurring appointments. That batch of sessions can have common details — including client information, time — and any recurring exercises that would be appropriate to all. But then the instructor can customize each individual session with specific exercises. This streamlines the instructor’s planning process for both upcoming sessions and those in the future. We had to get creative and extremely specific in writing the specs, configuring the database, and writing off-the-wall test scenarios to make this feature a reality.

Also, our award-winning design team built in some fun animations, including:

  • The way in which the user glides the Client Panel from one side of the screen to the other to bounce between Instructor-centric and Client-centric information.
  • The drag-to-select exercises when you build a client’s session (especially when you tap Select All and watch the exercises bundle up).
  • The way in which the graphic visualizations on the Stats screen animate.

All of these are simple UI delights that required equally strong design and engineering.

Learn more about Pilates Metrics

Pilates Metrics and its app is just getting started. To learn more about Pilates Metrics and the promise of big data in healthcare, visit their website.