REFIT: REDEFINING FITNESS IN KUWAIT
Written by: Ashley Alleluya
What do you get when you combine an ex-gymnast, a physical trainer, a cross-fit enthusiast and a very fit hipster with an eye for a successful business? The answer is Refit; a novel concept for anyone looking to achieve their maximum fitness potential in Kuwait. My editor and I were invited to meet with the team behind this start-up and find out more about the idea. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we walked into the Refit offices one cold evening and were greeted with smiles, warmth and very delicious cups of coffee.
Confession time – I’m not the biggest fitness junkie in the world. My workouts are sporadic and consist of little more than the few minutes of cardio, lunges and squats, and I’ve barely been able to do more than ten burpees. So I wasn’t really sure how to begin asking four very fit and fitness-conscious people about their app. Turns out, I needn’t have worried – Faisal, Jarrah, Abdullah and Ahmad were more than happy to share their story and their work with us.
There’s a very palpable camaraderie that exists between the four friends. There’s a relaxed atmosphere that the four manage to create in a relatively cozy space holding six people who are all loud and opinionated. It’s immediately obvious that they’ve each settled comfortably into a role in the group – Faisal, the energetic people-person who pairs each fact about their app with a story. Jarrah, the creative mind, with a subtle bohemian side to his personality and a love for the potted coconut plant in his office. “Did you water the plant today?” he asks Abdullah abruptly at one point during the interview. Abdullah, the voice of reason and the person to ask about the logistics of the app. Finally, Ahmad, the self-assured anchor.
“Refit was initially conceived as an all-purpose gym,” narrated Jarrah and Faisal. This in itself is not a bad idea in a country where fitness has currently become everyone’s top priority. “But logistically, we saw a lot of issues,” says Faisal. He’s got a point. Among the hundreds of gyms and fitness centers that have sprung up around Kuwait in the last few years, it would’ve been easy for a concept like Refit to go unnoticed. The friends, however, were undeterred – if not a gym, then why not an app?
In all honesty, they couldn’t have come up with a trendier solution for Kuwait’s fitness needs – everybody loves an app in Kuwait! After about a year of work, Refit was ready and is currently undergoing its final stages of testing. So promising was their business idea, in fact, that it was picked by Brilliant Lab as a winning tech start-up venture. The guys were then taken to Silicon Valley to help them polish their business idea into a user-friendly experience.
Jarrah decided to walk us through the Refit app, explaining all its features and workings to give us a better idea of their work. It is immediately evident that there is a clarity in the way the Refit guys have shaped their app. They’ve thought of every possible obstacle that could challenge a person’s commitment to getting fit, and then provided solutions that are simple and convenient.
This clarity also shows in the design of the app and website. It is sleek and clean in its layout, with no frills or crowded screens. The homepage asks you to identify whether you are a user or trainer, and then takes over your fitness journey for you. You’re given a variety of fitness options – from cross-fit training to aerobics, martial arts to dance and water sports – any activity that helps you achieve fitness finds a place at Refit.
“We wanted to create an app that is beneficial not only for the users, but also for professional trainers,” says Jarrah. “Once you register as a user, you get access to all available trainers, their availability, the training they offer, and their rates,” continues Abdullah. All sessions are booked and paid for beforehand, and the app also acts a reminder and fitness-tracker for the user, while doubling as an appointment dairy for the trainers.
It is here that the app truly finds its niche. Trainers are given the freedom to manage their own workout programs once they register with Refit. From uploading videos of the services they offer, to customizing the nature of their training programs, trainers have as much control as the participants in determining the nature of their classes and the rates they charge.
Faisal understands how inconvenient and awkward it can be to keep track of payments during fitness sessions. “When I would conduct a class,” he recalls “I had to pay attention to many things at once – making sure the class was not too crowded, giving each participant enough attention and keeping track of the late-comers and ones who hadn’t paid. It was not always easy,” he sighs. “And that’s where Refit works as a perfect solution,” pipes in Abdullah, completing Faisal’s idea for him.
This is a recurring theme in their dynamic, finishing each other’s ideas. Jarrah and Abdullah are quick to credit each other with contributions towards the app’s development. With their combined experiences in software development, business, fitness, physical training – even gymnastics – Faisal, Ahmad, Abdullah and Jarrah have evidently found harmony in their work.
To provide users with a truly comprehensive fitness experience, Refit also serves as an online store specializing in fitness supplements. “We wanted to create a concept that helps the user in every way. “Convenience is key,” stresses Faisal. “Whatever it takes to get a person fit, we have provided it on Refit.”
This passion to redefine fitness in Kuwait is strong among the four friends, to the extent that it is a big part of their efforts to give back to the community. “We take our social responsibility seriously,” Jarrah told us, “and a large portion of our proceeds are reserved towards helping children, people living with diabetes and other such projects.”
I often find that such big-hearted gestures come from those who also like to think big, and it made me curious about the direction the guys wanted to take Refit in. The answer was as straight forward as I expected. With a cheeky grin, Faisal replied, “take over the world with fitness.”