Perfect match

MPH alumnus develops online tool to match users to group fitness classes 

In January, when millions of Americans are making resolutions to lose weight or exercise more, they’ll have a new resource to help them find an exercise class that’s right for them: peerFit.com.

Ed Buckley. Photo by Maria Belen Farias.

Founded by Ed Buckley, a 2011 alumnus of the college’s Master of Public Health program, peerFit.com helps users search for local group fitness classes or use the site’s tools to build online communities for their own fitness groups.

The idea for peerFit.com came from Buckley’s own experience as a group fitness instructor and his need to keep more efficient records of workout plans.

“I would write down my lesson plan on paper and then I’d leave it at my house or at the classroom or forget to bring it to the gym,” said Buckley, now a doctoral student in health education and behavior with a focus in digital health and wellness, at the UF College of Health and Human Performance. “As a fitness instructor you need some sort of system to save and catalog your workouts.”

At the same time, Buckley started writing his workout plans on a whiteboard at the gym where he worked.

“We had a huge spike in attendance for the fitness classes so as a researcher, an inquisitive mind, I asked people, ‘You’re new to the class. Why did you come?’ And they said, ‘Well, I saw the workout on the board so I felt a lot more comfortable.’”

Buckley realized that when his group fitness students were able to see what a workout entailed ahead of time they felt less intimidated and more willing to try a new fitness class. He began developing the online group fitness resource with feedback from fitness industry contacts and with the help of the team he assembled of two UF MBA students and a building construction master’s student.

“The reason group fitness is so important is because the metrics will show you that people who are involved in group fitness will stay with fitness longer than if they’re working out on their own,” Buckley said.

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