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Sudbury-born workout app gaining popularity in Canadian high schools

With help from Sudburian and Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno as a spokesperson, REPerformance has found its way into 36 high schools in three provinces

Touted as the all-in-one physical activity platform, REPerformance carries a lot of hope with it, said its founder and CEO.

The premise of the software is simple: high school physical education teachers use the software to assess their students’ performance and the REPerformance software takes that data and develops a fitness program tailored to each individual student.

“It’s assessment driven, so a teacher will run a standard fitness assessment, and the results are captured by the REPerformance program, which then builds a workout routine customized to every single student’s needs,” said founder Callen McGibbon.

Students can then sign into the student part of the platform, open their workout and do it, but the software trains them, said McGibbon. Students can provide feedback about whether the workout is too easy or too difficult, and the software adapts to increase or decrease loads, reps, set times. This happens for four weeks, and then the teacher will reassess the students.

The physical education curriculum has changed over the years, and it now includes more of a lifestyle and wellness component, and teaching kids the skills they need to exercise for the rest of their lives, instead of just playing basketball for four weeks, then soccer for four weeks and so on, said McGibbon.

“It’s an intelligent move by the Ministry of Education, because you can’t graduate from high school knowing how to play basketball and expect that to keep you fit for the rest of your life.”

As a professional athlete, Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno knows well the value of having a coach who teaches lifelong skills to their athletes so they can continue to champion their own health long after they are done with sports. 

The software was born out of conversations between the two men, and now Foligno is using his star power to help spread the word as ambassador for REPerformance.

Foligno and McGibbon go way back in an athlete/coach relationship, but also as very good friends.

McGibbon was Foligno’s strength and conditioning coach since the NHLer was 17 years old.

Foligno said he remembers hating workouts in his U.S. high school when he was in Grade 9. His Grade 9 physical education teacher was a football coach

“It was just a meathead workout, a lot of neck strengthening, and it turned a lot of my classmates off, because they just didn’t care about football,” said Foligno. “I didn’t care if I could bench four plates. It wasn’t until I really specialized in hockey, that I really understood strength training.

“For a lot of the general population, they want to do it just for the wellness benefit. They want to feel good, and that’s so important nowadays, especially with what we’re facing right now with the pandemic.”

Foligno said that’s what he loved about the way he trained with McGibbon. 

“It’s to help make me feel good when I’m 50 years old, too,” Foligno said. “I want every kid to have what I had, the experience I had with Cal that gave me a heightened understanding of my body. I fully understand, especially as a parent, that not every kid wants to play in the NHL, or lift a million pounds, but everyone wants to be healthy and to have an understanding of how to do that.”

Over the past year, McGibbon and his team have gone from launching commercially to having 36 high schools in three provinces and 67 physical education teachers signed on.

“We have just passed 5,000 students to whom we are providing workouts on a weekly basis,” said McGibbon.

McGibbon and his team first targeted minor sports with their REPerformance software, but the team pivoted to the high school market following feedback from an event in mid-2019 with the Toronto Argonauts, when they showcased the software to hundreds of high school students and teachers in attendance. 

“Many high schools were invited to that event, and coaches started asking us questions,” McGibbon said. “They reached out to us after that event, and they thought it was fantastic. 

“We had to work pretty hard on the development side of it, and make significant changes to match curriculum standards. We weren’t really set up for schools,” he continued. “We launched a pilot project in January 2020 with four schools, and the feedback from that was just unbelievable.”

Since the commercial launch in September, McGibbon said it’s been a “wicked ride.”

The software proved to be popular with school boards across the province, but it was slow-going at first in Sudbury, he said. 

“It was weird, because we were selling it to everybody from every corner of the province but here,” he said.

However, he said Rainbow District School Board has bought the software, and a few French schools have also just signed on.

“It’s starting to build momentum here, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” he said. 

The short-term goal is to have 100,000 kids in Canada learning how to work out and develop those skills for life, and the long-term goal would be to have the software on other continents

“If we get the right people involved, and the right growth metrics in place, we can go all kinds of places with this software,” said McGibbon. “The sky's the limit with this thing. It’s a huge market, and we have to do this at the right speed.

“Sometimes, I want to just go really fast, but we’re learning so much from the customers. We have such an engaged customer base who are also providing their own suggestions on how to make it better.”


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Arron Pickard

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