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Pat Vellner Teams Up with Developers to Create New Fitness App Called “Ardor”

January 25, 2024 by
Photo Credit: Instagram @tryardor
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We’re a community of goal-setters. 

We train every day to get better, stronger, healthier, and fitter. 

We prepare for the Open or local comps each year to test our abilities against ourselves and our friends. We look to our coaches and mentors to guide us and help lead the way as we build better humans. 

As of last week, a new product has come on the market, allowing us to learn more about ourselves as athletes and train harder and perhaps smarter. Pat Vellner has joined as a co-founder alongside Jordan Lund and Keith Riel to create a new fitness app: Ardor. 

  • Ardor is an AI-powered personal trainer that has been trained using CrossFit methodology to make accurate predictions about your strength, speed, and fitness. 

While Ardor is not seeking to replace a one-on-one coach or personal trainer, its founders hope that it finds a place amongst those who don’t have the ongoing means to have one. This includes people who work multiple jobs, are deployed, travel often, or are just parents with precious little free time.

How it works: Once a user completes an intake evaluation, the app starts making predictions about their strengths and abilities, giving weights and rep recommendations. It also makes surprisingly accurate predictions about one’s speed and endurance, which the founders of Ardor believe is a first in the gym space. 

  • Ardor tries to predict how fast you can complete a workout, if you will slow down and by how much, and then it programs goals accordingly.

The app also tracks and remembers what a user has done and correlates that with what muscles will be sore or need rest, as well as what exercises haven’t been done in a while. It was designed to improve consistency by creating unique routines around your ability, equipment, availability, energy on a given day, and mix of current interests. 

Upon initially testing out the app for himself, Vellner was surprised at the accuracy. 

  • “When I first booted it up, I was shocked at how close the time and weight goals it programmed were after just completing the intake! I kind of thought I would be able to cruise on a few sessions to start, but the prediction algorithms are really good and it was hard right away,” Vellner says. 
  • “It’s addicting trying to keep increasing your performance metrics. It almost makes it into a game. And having specific goals for you to execute, even on timed workouts, makes it like having a coach in the room all the time. It helps you stay focused,” Vellner says.

Who’s behind it: With a background in tech and machine learning, Lund spent over a decade in the gym, mainly focused on Olympic weightlifting but sampling any number of fitness fads that popped up. 

  • “My commitment to my fitness would change as my life did,” Lund explains. 
  • “I became a father and had to work out at home more. Or I’d be on a work trip and be in a hotel gym with minimal equipment. My interests and abilities would evolve and so I would experiment with finding the next track to follow.” 
  • Lund continued: “What I wanted was something that constantly assessed what I was capable of, and could adapt with me on the fly based on what I wanted to focus on and how much time I had to work out each week. Something that would notice more of the little things like if I got generally stronger, the weight recommendations automatically changed even in my HIIT and circuit-based workouts.”

Working with his weightlifting coach, personal trainer, and business partner, Keith Riel (who holds a CF L3), Lund spent more than a year training Ardor how to program millions of different workouts and react to individual needs and abilities with accuracy that wasn’t possible before.

  • “With over 20 years of hands-on experience training clients of all levels, Jordan and I dedicated thousands of hours developing Ardor. A combination of machine learning and real-world testing has allowed Ardor to build programs to a broader audience. Ardor is about delivering effective, personalized training to anyone, anywhere.” Riel says.
  • “As a trainer, what excites me about Ardor is how workouts are crafted around each client’s specific training history. The app retrieves information swiftly, adjusting parameters based on each person’s unique progress and performance,” Riel continues.
Credit: Instagram @tryardor

The role of AI in fitness: We are beginning to see AI play a more prevalent role in fitness, whether in injury and rehabilitation apps, sleep pattern recognition, calorie tracking, and even personal training programs. 

Lund, Riel, and Vellner hope that Ardor can join in that movement. 

  • “The more you use it, the smarter it gets,” Lund says. 
  • “When your fitness app knows that your overhead press is relatively stronger than your squat, or that you want to focus heavily on endurance for a month and only have dumbbells at home—it ends up personalizing your routines.” 

In the fitness world, we talk a lot about competing against ourselves and beating the older version of us. Ardor is built to guide you in doing just that almost immediately, with an array of new workouts customized to the user’s personal fitness goals. 

Vellner sees how this technology can help not only with his own training but with his career as a chiropractor as well. 

  • “I see patients all the time who are struggling and trying to stay fit and maintain their independence. We know the magic bullet for longevity is staying fit and active, so finding creative new ways to engage people and keep them active is a big deal.” Vellner says.
  • “I wish everyone could have their own personal trainer, and this is a huge step forward in reducing that barrier and giving everyone a personalized, evolving fitness plan.” 

Vellner tells us the first thing he has started working on is creating various routines and stress-testing workouts. Reviewing how well Ardor can adjust and handle someone at his level. Do the workouts make sense together? Are the suggested weights and rest times between sets reasonable? Did Ardor guess accurately when he would finish the workout? He has also started working with Lund to make the workouts even more robust and creative.

The bottom line: It must be stated that nothing can beat a personal trainer or the value of a one-on-one coach, to which Lund, Riel, and Vellner agree. 

  • “You just can’t beat an actual personal trainer. If you have the means to continuously have a coach and trainer, we think that’s great. We are not replacing that. What we are trying to do is be part of the new wave of offerings that increase the programming intelligence and level of personalization experience you can have compared to what has traditionally been available in the fitness app space. Where we get closer to being able to have an individual, evolving program that is accessible to everyone,” Lund says. 

Ardor is currently available to download for iPhone, with an Android version to be made available later this year. The current price is $10 monthly, with a one-month free trial. 

Lund, Riel, and Vellner told us that they will always keep the price point accessible even as they add more features. They are also promising to prioritize existing users by taking on their programming needs. 

Vellner: “The most rewarding part has been having people reach out saying ‘It would be really cool if Ardor  learned how to do  X or handle it when I do Y’ and then training Ardor to do just that in the next release.”

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