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FLOW: a Smart Fitness App That Could Replace Your Personal Trainer

FLOW generates a personal workout plan based on individual test results (left) and shows you precisely how to do the exercise and which muscles are being targeted (right).
FLOW generates a personal workout plan based on individual test results (left) and shows you precisely how to do the exercise and which muscles are being targeted (right).

Have you ever downloaded a fitness application to your smart phone, only to find it still sitting there months later without having been accessed but maybe a couple of times? It happens so often, and it's usually as a direct result of one or more of these three things: it's boring, it's not user friendly, it's not customized. Enter FLOW, a totally new approach to exercise technology.

FLOW is the brain child of three men who came together in the most unexpected of ways. Peter Wallén, agent to NHL players such as Gabriel Landeskog and Victor Hedman, faced a nightmare no parent wants to imagine. His son suffered from an aneurysm that left him hospitalized with a long road to recovery ahead of him. Enter Joe Costa, a sports science specialist and trainer who has worked with, among others, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Joe started working with Peter's son two months after the aneurysm, and in less than six months, he had Peter's son not only skating again, but playing a vital role in Team Sweden's silver medal run at the U18 World Championships. Peter was so impressed with Joe's unique methods of training, he approached him with an idea to bring them to the public on a grander scale. In a serendipitous chain of events, the two of them came in contact with Patrick Sadovnik, a technical expert who was looking for an opportunity to create a fitness application that went beyond what was currently available. The resulting product was FLOW, a unique product based on over 20 years of real-world experience and the latest sport-scientific knowledge.

There are a number of features to FLOW that make it unlike anything you've seen before. First and foremost, it allows you to select the sport and position that you play. By doing so, you're telling the application exactly what type of development you need in order to improve your game. There are 18 sports from which to choose—including golf, volleyball and, of course, hockey—as well as an "Other" category that puts one on a general fitness track.

Your profile also includes information that is found on most fitness apps: age and gender. You don't input information like height and weight as FLOW is real-world. People are unique and cannot be judged on an arbitrary number to determine fitness. Instead, the application uses specific statistics gleaned from a number of tests to determine your complete fitness level.

There are eight tests to go through, none of which require any more equipment than a measuring tape, chalk and some cones (or, if you're like me, shoes). Each test is designed to assess different aspects of your fitness level. The tests translate into a series of focus areas. You're graded on a scale from one to five, with five representing the highest level for your age in your sport at your position. The beauty of these statistics is that they are also measured against over 100,000 (and growing) athletes, including athletes in the same sport that you originally identified. You can determine where you fall against all of them or just those in your age group, for example. As each person adds his or her personal stats, the application's database grows, a database that includes people from all over the world.

In response to the results of your test, the application will then use algorithms to devise a personalized workout program designed to address those areas in which you need it, to the degree that's necessary to move you towards an elite performance level. No longer will you be asked to do a generic workout or select exercises you think you should do; instead, you will be shown a specific path to increase your strength, flexibility, stamina, and more.

The app also provides more than just written instruction; each test and activity is accompanied by an HD quality video with a computer generated athlete demonstrating exactly how to do them and an audio track describing them. Additionally, none of the exercises require a huge gym of equipment. They are designed so that anyone, no matter the income or access, can use the application. Every two to three months, it's expected that you will retest yourself. The application will then note your progress and make adjustments to the workout plan accordingly, all the while keeping track of what you have done. Essentially, the app gives you a report card on your effort and progress.

Another of FLOW's unique characteristics is its social media feature. You can add friends like you would with Google+, and you can also create teams. With both options, you can send messages to each other and compare your stats, generating competition and motivation in the process. You can also message the trainers of FLOW to get guidance and new workouts.

The real beauty of flow is its personalization, something that few apps currently on the market can provide. It's also free for the basic version with a 30-day-trial of the Silver plan—currently the most advanced plan offered. After the 30-day trial, you can purchase the Silver plan for $14.99 per month. The Bronze plan, which offers more features than the free version, is available for $9.99 per month. The SimpliFlow website breaks down all of the options with each package.

This is just an introduction to what FLOW can do. Next we'll look behind the technology to the reasons Peter, Joe and Patrick want to get this in the hands of athletes—especially kids—and we'll hear about personal experiences with it, including that of Landeskog and Hedman themselves.

For full details, visit the SimpliFlow website. To download the app, search for FLOW Competitive Sports or use these links to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.