Lift Club app is here

Three Steubenville Big Red graduates have created an application, or app for short, which will help you work out.

Nick Potenzini and Josh Banks, 2005 grads, and 2007 alum Dan Vogel have teamed to create “Lift Club” which is available on iOS devices including the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

“Pote (Potenzini) and I thought it would be a great idea to create an app with original workouts and ability to track your progress,” said Banks, who graduated from the University of Akron with a bachelor’s of science in education and a major of exercise science. He also received his doctorate in physical therapy from Wheeling Jesuit University.

“The app will eventually allow you to compete against friends and share workouts, giving you a virtual workout partner.”

Potenzini graduated from the University of Akron, B.S. education with a major in exercise science and a master’s of science in education with a major in exercise physiology. He is currently working on his master’s in occupational therapy from Duquesne University.

“I have always been a fitness nerd and technology nerd, I love both of them,” Potenzini offered. “I’ve used multiple fitness apps in the past but have always found small things I thought I could do better. Then I figured why not give it a try?

“I called Dan because he was a programmer and Josh because we went college together and had the same degree, and we got to work.”

Vogel graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s of science in computer and information science.

“I was teaching myself iOS and Android development when Pote and Banks asked me if I would be interested in teaming up to make a mobile fitness application,” said Vogel. “The opportunity to work with my friends on something like this was one I couldn’t pass up, so I immediately joined the team.”

The 1.0 version of the software took about eight months to create.

“The submission process took about a week to get the app approved by Apple and then made available on the store,” said Vogel.

Added Potenzini, “It was difficult at first with all of us living in different cities and all being in school. Now that I am nearing the end of my program and Dan and Josh are both out of school, things are moving a little more quickly now when we have ideas.”

According to Vogel, there is no immediate plan to port the app to other operating systems like Android or Windows Phone.

“We understand that making the app available on more operating systems means a larger potential user base,” he said. “However, it also means a lot of time and effort. Since I’m the only programmer right now, and I have a full-time job, porting is not on the agenda yet.”

“That’s all on Dan,” Potenzini said with a laugh. “I think it would be nice to expand to different markets and help people reach their fitness goals.”

The workouts for the app were done in the Big Red weight room.

“This was by far the longest and most challenging part, for me at least,” said Banks. “We met two times. The first time it took us about five hours and the second about three.

“It was difficult getting the perfect camera angles and proper technique we wanted so the user could see the correct form.”

Added Potenzini, “Making the videos was a blast. They’ve made some big upgrades since I graduated, so it was a treat to use that equipment.

“It took a total of about two days to shoot everything we have so far, which isn’t bad considering we did it ourselves from videoing to editing and uploading to the app.”

The early reviews have been favorable.

“It obviously feels good to get a positive review,” said Vogel, who was a wide receiver on Big Red’s back-to-back undefeated state championship teams in 2005-06. “We also get suggestions from users on what they want to see from the app in the future. Constructive criticism helps to improve the quality of the application.”

Said Banks, who played baseball and football as a freshman and sophomore, “It is nice to see people are using that app and that they like it. It is also reassuring to see that we know what we are doing.”

Potenzini was a member of the football team (2002-04, 33-5 record) and ran track.

“So far so good,” he said. “It is a good sense of accomplishment when you work hard on something for that long. We want to deliver the best fitness app that we can. We are hoping that everyone who downloads the app takes time to write feedback because we take it very seriously and are open minded to all suggestions.”

The three have been surprised by the customers who have downloaded the app.

“I’m happy with the number of downloads and surprised with the diversity of users who downloaded the app across the world,” said Vogel.

Added Banks, “I am surprised by the number of downloads, especially by international users. We have downloads from places like China and Russia, and I never expected international downloads.

“I am also happy with the amount of downloads we have gotten with doing basically no marketing. We have a FaceBook page, Lift Club LLC, and a Twitter, @LiftClubLLC, and that is about all the marketing we have done thus far.”

Remarked Potenzini, “I think we were kind of surprised at first, we didn’t tell anyone that it was in the App Store because we wanted to make some changes before we announced anything, but there were still people downloading it.

“We are happy people are downloading it, but we are really trying to spread the word to a bigger population.”

They decided to make the app available for free.

“For a while it was 50/50,” Potenzini said regarding to make the app free or charge for it. “We decided to make it free because a lot of apps that are even 99 cents are overlooked because people can’t try them out before they buy them. We really want people to use our app to better their health, whether you are a beginner or an experienced athlete.”

Added Banks, “We wanted to make sure if another app offered something for free, then we would offer it for free, too. Then we discussed having certain things free that other apps make you pay for in order to set our app apart from other fitness apps.”

They do make money, though.

“We earn revenue using Apple’s iAd Network,” said Vogel. “Apple handles all of the business with the advertisers, and makes it very easy for us to include ads. However, they do take 30 percent of your advertising revenue for offering the iAd service (”

“Right now we make a very small amount, but every penny that we make we put back into the app to make improvements for features down the line,” said Potenzini.

Like when collaborating on any project, the friends have learned throughout the process.

“If you want to develop native iPhone applications, you have to learn a programming language called Objective-C,” said Vogel, who also remarked that a 1.1 version has been released and a 1.2 version is in the works. “They did not teach Objective-C at Ohio State, so learning and getting comfortable with the language was the most challenging part.”

The challenge was different for Potenzini.

“Being in school full time and working part time,” he said. “Duquesne’s occupational therapy program is very demanding, and on top of that I am in charge of personal training on campus and I’m personal training at Gold’s Gym in downtown Pittsburgh. Also, learning all of the technical computer stuff from Dan.

“Adding videos and descriptions to web databases and such, it’s been a learning process, but I’ve always been interested in how all of that worked. Anyways, Dan is a good teacher.”

For Banks and Potenzini, the process has allowed them to view their professional life.

“I love physical therapy and working with patients, but throughout the process of working on this app I think my real passion is in fitness,” said Banks. “I find it completely rewarding helping people achieve their goals. I would love to be able to open a gym with a physical therapy clinic included.”

“Apps are a huge part of occupational therapy right now, we’ve had multiple lectures on how apps are changing the rehab industry and helping individuals with disabilities,” added Potenzini. “Now all I can think about are different apps we can create to help make people’s lives easier and more functional. With technology, the sky is really the limit, and I am hopeful that in the future we can make more apps to cater to a wide range of people – functional and with disabilities.”

The trio agreed their education and athletic endeavors at Big Red were paramount to this process.

“I think our time at Big Red was a definite positive influence in making this app,” Banks admitted. “That was the first real exposure any of us had to lifting. I feel like coach Cam (Rick Camilletti) instilled the basis for what I was able to later build on throughout college. High school was also where we were taught the proper form that will be seen in the videos soon to be on the app.”

“All three of us were athletes from elementary school through high school,” Banks remarked. “Big Red has a very serious strength and conditioning program, and that is really what shaped my interest in going into the fitness/rehabilitation field. Now I am about to have three health-related degrees and work in occupational therapy because of the experiences I had at Big Red.”

Added Vogel, “My time at Big Red definitely taught me mental toughness and that hard work pays off. I learned first hand what a team can achieve when members are committed to a goal.”