How Prehab 101 and Crowdbotics Built a Workout Planner That Helps You "Come Back Stronger"

Dr. Jacob Harden is a chiropractor and injury rehab expert whose fitness app Prehab 101 uses an algorithm to create a reactive workout experience optimized for each user.

Prehab 101 + Crowdbotics

When Jacob Harden first decided to build Prehab 101, he planned to release it as a website. It soon became clear, however, that he could deliver more value to users by building a native app. "Having a mobile app is better than telling people, 'Oh, we've optimized our website for a mobile experience,'" says Jacob. "With the app, we’re able to do a lot more in terms of logic."

His search for a trusted mobile development partner led him to Crowdbotics. Prehab 101 is powered by an algorithm that intelligently adapts the user's workout regimen according to their feedback after each round of workouts. Jacob relied on his years of professional chiropractic experience to map out the app's underlying workout logic, but he turned to Crowdbotics for help planning the user experience. "Crowdbotics guided me through a wireframing session that completely clarified my vision for building the best app possible."

Prehab 101 will soon be released for the iOS App Store, where it will offer users the same clinically validated approach to rehab that Jacob has been providing his clients and seminar attendees for years. "We’re bringing a scientific view to training and exercise, and it’s one of the more complex fitness apps on the market," says Jacob.

We recently sat down with Jacob to discuss his experience with Crowdbotics and his larger plans for Prehab 101 following its mobile launch.


Crowdbotics: What is your technical background?

Jacob: I'm not a rank beginner when it comes to tech, but by no means am I an expert. I know nothing about development in terms of apps and coding and everything. I've built a few websites for myself and for my businesses, but even then it was through the Crowdbotics drag-and-drop builder.

I am more proficient from the design side of things, so I've had ideas of what I want to do with this app. I was able to design out how I wanted it to look but didn't have the technical skill to really put that into code and make it come to life.

Crowdbotics: That makes sense to me. I think as more tools arise that lower the barrier to entry, you have more and more people with domain expertise in something outside of software engineering able to build products.

How many apps have you built with Crowdbotics? How many times have you played around with Crowdbotics in general?

Jacob: This is my first app I've ever built, and first app I’ve ever built with you guys.

Prehab 101 creates custom workouts based on each user's recovery progression.

Crowdbotics: How did you find Crowdbotics and decide to move forward with us?

Jacob: Just doing my research around different options that I had in terms of development, I had been through a long process with this app. It started as a website, and then we had to pivot after a few setbacks, so I wanted to go in the mobile app direction. Like many people who don't know anything about it, I knew very little about what this was going to cost, what’s this going to be like, who's good, who’s not good?

So I started scouring the internet for all the potential options out there, and I came across Crowdbotics, and it really seemed up my alley. What you guys were talking about with being able to help non-technical entrepreneurs, and bring my idea to life — that really resonated with me.

“Crowdbotics guided me through a wireframing session that completely clarified my vision for building the best app possible.”

Crowdbotics: I want to dig in on the technical challenge of website versus mobile app. Would you elaborate on what led you to ratchet it up to a full-fledged app versus just a website? What led you to that decision?

Jacob: Two things. The world is more mobile. We know that. Having a mobile app is better than telling people, “Oh, we've optimized our website for a mobile experience.” I've had friends who white-labeled apps, and everyone always asks, “Are you releasing an app?” The world is just more mobile, and we knew we wanted to be there.

The second thing comes from a more technical side: with the app, we’re able to do a lot more in terms of logic. We have a lot of logic that we integrate into our fitness programs to make sure that we are always giving our user the the right workout at the right time: that we're not over-stressing them and we're not under-stressing them. A website wasn't going to allow us to be able to do something like that, whereas the mobile app will.

Users drive the app's recommendations with regular feedback.

Crowdbotics: I would love to back up and talk about Prehab. Can you talk about the product and how you arrived at the current form?

Jacob: The Prehab 101 app is a workout app. I’m in the healthcare space and I work in rehabilitation, so I wanted to create a fitness app or an exercise app that would not only cater to those looking to improve general health, but also those who wanted to recover from injuries.

Our tagline is “Come Back Stronger”, and with that there are more considerations that need to be made. I look at a lot of the exercise and fitness apps on the market, and the glaring weakness about most of them is that it's very random. There’s a random workout of the day, but there's no structure to it. There's no tailoring to know if it’s going to be appropriate for the user. We know that people come in all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels, and what's best for one person won't necessarily be best for another.

So with the Prehab 101 app, what we have done is create a reactive workout experience where you can start a workout program that’s tailored to a certain goal. Maybe you want to improve on your strength primarily, or you might want to improve your body composition primarily, or maybe you want to get a little bit of everything as well as some conditioning. You can pick one of our programs to do that.

“Crowdbotics helped me add features that I liked from other apps and put my own spin on their designs.”

The app will start you with what we consider to be a well-rounded base of challenge that the average person should do okay with, but then, as you are giving us data through the assessment (we ask you to take a bunch of assessments each week) and as you give us feedback, we start to tailor that challenge to you. That way, we make sure that if you can progress faster, you will, and if you need to progress slower, you will. We take all of that into account, and then we are able to make sure that we're never overdosing or under-dosing the workout experience for the user.

Crowdbotics: What are you hoping to turn this into? Do you have any thoughts on the next stage for Prehab?

Jacob: For sure. Right now we’ve built out what we consider to be our MVP version with you guys, and that version is largely going to be centered around strength training programs. We have some options for conditioning workouts and things like that, and there's a lot of customization that can happen within that, but the next step for us with features is a workout log where your performance is actually saved and you go back and look through your history of workouts to get an idea of kind of how far you’ve come.

Prehab 101 includes a daily and weekly planner full of custom workouts.

We want to add some gamification to it as well to give you that little reward boost for having completed six workouts in a row or something. We also want to bring our algorithm and our assessment system and this kind of reactive nature—this Custom Tailoring—we want to bring that over to our flexibility programs. We want to bring that in to our opening program. A lot of that depends on our team figuring out exactly how we're going to integrate that. We need to figure out what the best framework is for us to be able to do that within what we've already built.

Crowdbotics: So, adding onto what's already there, but making the experience more engaging? Making Prehab invaluable to those people achieving their goals?

Jacob: Exactly. While we do have an audience of people that are rank beginners, I also want to consider maybe an intermediate audience who knows what they're doing a little bit with their exercise routine. There's not a lot of apps that give much to that audience outside of a workout log where they're tracking what they do on their phone. We want to bring in more customization options for them.

In the future, we want to be able to ask users about their experience levels. That way we can tailor the workouts and challenges. What kind of equipment do you have? Are these going to be home workouts or do you have a full gym? What kind of volume level do you want to work at?

And we really want to ask more of these questions whenever you're setting up your program so that it feels like a more custom-tailored experience, and that every person that uses our app can really get what they need, and it's not cookie-cutter. If it's a bell curve, it’s only going to really be appropriate for the people in the middle.

Crowdbotics: Right. The complexity obviously skyrockets when you start talking about people who are not beginners and who already have experience. If you're trying to go after them and design a valuable process for those people, that’s exciting.

Jacob: It's something that we're really excited about because that's the majority of my in-person clientele. That’s who I see. Prehab, as a term, is a popularized term around injury prevention. For many people, that is a big part of why they want to exercise and stay healthy. It's about not getting injured, and we view it as being prepared to live your life.

In-app guidance and demonstrations help users exercise properly.

We mix in this aspect of preparation by getting stronger and more well-conditioned, but we know that people are coming in with aches and pains and they need to be able to recover from those. So we set up a program dedicated to helping somebody recover from knee pain or from lower back pain that can then feed them directly into our performance-based programs, which are going to send them toward long-term health and wellness style training.

The considerations that we have to make for that — between somebody who could benefit from just getting up and going for a walk, versus somebody who is already on a four- or five-day-a-week exercise program and needs better management of fatigue and better management of their training loads — it's just vastly different.

Crowdbotics: I can imagine the differences are pretty vast. I want to change gears here and talk a bit more about the early days of the project. What materials did you start and when did you jump in with Crowdbotics?

Jacob: I mostly just brought an idea and some Excel spreadsheets that laid out how I wanted the logic and the interaction behind the app to work. I was taking a lot of things made with complex Excel formulas with multiple if/then/and/or statements and wanted to put this in an app where the actions are at the touch of a button.

I went through the wireframing session with Crowdbotics and got an initial set of designs there that really helped give me some vision in terms of screens we're going to need. I then took those and did my own design for each screen that needed to be in the app, then brought that back and we started the dev process.

“I wasn’t sure if some of my more ambitious ideas were going to be possible, but the Crowdbotics team stepped up and was able to make it happen.”

Crowdbotics: Okay, so it was a bit of a back and forth designing from ideation to a proper storyboard. How was that back and forth? It can be difficult to get an idea translated to someone else and then translated to paper. And then once development began — what was that experience like?

Jacob: What was very useful for me was the Crowdbotics team stepping in to give me a basic set of screens. I was able to take those and build off of them with some of the things that were in my mind: “I like this, this, and this, and here's something I've seen in another app that I want to tweak.” I put my own spin on these screens, and that process was really smooth.

I’ve even since done redesigns. One of the things I learned was to never go off your exact first idea because something’s going to change.

Then going into the development process has been wonderful. The team and my project manager have been absolutely wonderful to work with. They’re super responsive and able to get things to me very quickly so I can see it and test it. I’ve been able to test every new feature along the way, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

Jacob Harden, founder of Prehab 101

Crowdbotics: Are there any big wins that you felt were partially due to working with Crowdbotics?  

Jacob: I wouldn't have been able to build it without you guys. I wasn't sure if some of these ideas that I had coming in — being able to give a client an assessment and then seeing a workout program updated on the other side — I wasn’t sure if things like that were going to be possible.

The Crowdbotics team has really stepped it up there and gotten a clear vision of what I wanted and ensured that it’s all working properly. I didn't even know if my idea was possible, and you guys stepped up and were able to make it happen.

Crowdbotics: We love to hear that. You know, we're not a consulting firm. We're not product consultants or entrepreneurial consultants, but I do think the nature of the business demands a certain amount of thinking through the idea. Does it make sense? Is it intuitive? I'm happy to hear that we were part of that conversation.

Before I let you go, is there anything else about Prehab or your experience as an entrepreneur that you would like to highlight?

Jacob: In terms of what the app is, I want to highlight that this is unique for a fitness app. We’re bringing a scientific view to training and exercise, and it’s one of the more complex fitness apps on the market. I'm immensely grateful to work together and make this thing a reality.

To start building with Crowdbotics, contact us today.

Originally published:

August 24, 2020