The science of local fitness

10 March 2010

Adi Rum and Damian Kovach
Adi Rum and Damian Kovach

Monash IT graduates Damian Kovach and Adi Rum have created an original and successful business that combines their skills in computer science with their interest in health and fitness.

Soon after graduating they created an online fitness search engine that matches people to gyms and fitness centres in the area they live.

Three years down the track they work on the business 10 hours a day. The Local fitness website receives more than four million hits a month and gyms large and small want to be involved.

"Our concept was simple," explained Damian, who completed a double degree in science and computer science at Monash in 2006.

"We wanted to be able to give people an exact match to their needs in the least amount of time. We merged our knowledge of IT, psychology and fitness and came up with the lifestyle search, where without having heard of yoga, you can search by 'body and mind' and be introduced to yoga, pilates, and anything else that fits that category, sorted by proximity to where you live.

"Browsing every fitness business site can take hours. Using the lifestyle search we bring this down to 10 seconds."

Adi became interested in the area of human-computer interaction during his computer science degree and then pursued knowledge of human behaviours in a Graduate Diploma in Psychology.

"Understanding behavioural sciences helped me design a fitness search engine based on the key variables that influence fitness participation," Adi said.

"Location is fundamental as is choice; people want to find what suits their personality."

Damian and Adi met at Monash and worked together on group projects through their computer science degrees.

Damian started a job with an IT consultancy after finishing study but wanted a more people-focused job.

"We noticed from our own experience that gyms had a poor presence online and were generally not good at communicating what they offered," Damien said.

"We felt we had the technical skills to design and build the website architecture, so I quit the job and we've worked on it flat out ever since, learning a lot about online marketing and gaining valuable business experience through mentors and people we have met along the way."

In late 2009 the business started to expand to other states after establishing good relationships with hundreds of clients in Melbourne including well-known franchises and those run by local councils.