ACTIVE Network’s New Venture Inspired by Its Own Employees

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ACTIVE Network began in 1999 as a company that marketed 5Ks, half-marathons, and other running events. Before long, the firm branched out into the business of registering participants for races and helping to compile the results. Today, ACTIVE Network’s clients also include schools, churches, and youth sports leagues, all of which need help organizing different groups of people.

ACTIVE Network’s newest venture was inspired by a specific group of people: its own employees. ACTIVEx — a mobile app that was recently released — provides customized workouts and training plans that multiple users can follow as a group. It is designed to recreate the sense of camaraderie enjoyed by ACTIVE Network employees who exercise together.

Greg Ingino, the company’s chief information officer, recalls the afternoon workouts starting organically, with someone organizing yoga sessions in a conference room or a handful of coworkers participating in trail runs near the firm’s San Diego office. (ACTIVE Network relocated to downtown Dallas in 2014.) Those relatively small numbers soon ballooned into hundreds of ACTIVE Network employees motivating each other to visit the company’s on-site fitness facility, ACTIVEx. Their group workouts gave rise to the ACTIVEx Charity Challenge, an annual sprint triathlon that has raised nearly $500,000 for a nonprofit called Kids in the Game since 2008. Just as importantly, it forged bonds among ACTIVE Network employees and inspired achievement.

“You’d go to these things, and it was like magic,” Ingino says. “You’d see people cross the finish line and break down in tears. What a magical thing to help create this community.” Before long, a light bulb went off. “Let’s take what’s special about ACTIVEx and bring it to the world.”

ACTIVE Network already had a number of other apps on the market, ranging from training programs such as Couch to 5K and 13.One Marathon to organizational tools that include Hunt & Fish and Reserve America. But those apps are all geared toward individuals. ACTIVEx is the company’s first consumer app that is designed to be used by “packs” of users who will hopefully duplicate the fellowship enjoyed by ACTIVE Network’s staff.

There will be a free version of the app, but the premium version will cost $3.99 per month. Members of the ACTIVE Advantage network, who already receive benefits such as discounted race registrations and free magazine subscriptions, will get the better version at no additional cost.

“We have a core benefit model that was starting to plateau,” Ingino says. “We needed to do something to drive membership and drive value.”

And if that something also drives people to make deeper connections while getting healthier, all the better.

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