Metro, Business

Fitness With Friends

“They say entrepreneurs are rule-breakers,” said Hannah Freilich, BC ’09. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been one to push the limits.”

Freilich graduated from Boston College with a degree in elementary education and human development, with the hopes of becoming a teacher. It wasn’t until this past year, however, that Freilich embarked on a different path and became an entrepreneur. Freilich created the free app BeActiveTogether, which seeks to connect fitness-inspired individuals and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

“My education was definitely directed towards teaching and I recently made the transition to entrepreneurship now,” Freilich said.

Freilich met Mai Tang, the co-founder of BeActiveTogether, in her senior year at BC. The two friends did not begin a partnership until years later. Instead, they parted ways after graduation to pursue jobs.

While Freilich said that it was difficult to find a job after graduation, she was hired as a substitute teacher for Boston Public Schools, where she worked for two years. She then moved on to a full-time teaching position in Medford. Specifically, she works as a math teacher for children in Medford’s special education department.

“I loved my experience with teaching, but I wanted to do something different,” Freilich said. “A bulb recently went off to make a switch.”

The idea came while Freilich was pursuing her passion for exercise.

“I came up with the idea while I was at the gym one day,” Freilich explained. “I wished I had someone to go with, who was also interested in the same activities as me.”

After graduation, many of Freilich’s friends moved away to pursue their jobs. Even in Boston, she found it difficult to meet with her friends, due to their varied and busy schedules. Rather than allowing this to stymie her fitness pursuits, Freilich chose to create BeActiveTogether in hopes of connecting fitness-minded individuals, while also filling the void left by her friends.

“Rather than making my friends do it with me, I thought it would be cool to find people who were interested in the same activities,” Freilich said. “I was also interested in getting involved in some new fitness activities that have emerged, like zumba and boxing.”

As a math teacher for secondary education, Freilich lacked some of the key skills needed to make her idea a reality. Her big break came when she reconnected with her friend Mai Tang.

Freilich described Tang, who has a background in finance and accounting, as a natural businesswoman, which made her the perfect person to provide the technical skills needed to launch an app.

BeActiveTogether launched on Jan. 1, and currently has about 350 users scattered across the Boston area. Freilich’s long-term goal is to have hundreds of thousands of users, and to offer specific activities ranging from basketball to yoga.

BeActiveTogether currently offers a wide variety of features to individuals. The app has a search tool where individuals can search for people by zip code, college, or immediate location. Users can also input their workout schedules directly into the app, so they can synch their schedules with those of other users. Another key feature is a list of 30 activities, which includes ideas such as golf and snowboarding.  Users can also create a custom profile, which allows for users to search for a workout buddy by gender, specific network, or level of experience.

Freilich credits much of her early success to her BC education: “Even though my education was based in teaching, I took a wide variety of classes. My education prepared me to learn more about different areas like Finance, Marketing, and Advertising as I go.”

The app is easily accessible to college students throughout Massachusetts, according to Freilich. While the app is currently only available for iPhones, Freilich and Tang’s goal is to expand to the Android market in the near future.

“Our overall target audience is anyone who likes to stay active and be healthy,” Freilich said. “Our two main audiences are college-aged kids, and then young professionals transitioning into the workplace and new homes.”

Freilich hopes that the app will offer college students a way to meet one another, while also staying active. Freilich was not a fitness fanatic during her college years, but now realizes the potential of her app on the marketplace.

“I myself was not a regular Plex-goer,” she explained. “I know staying in shape can be an obstacle with other distractions like going out, or spending late nights eating, but I feel like college is a great time to meet people, and this app offers another way to meet people while getting active.”

Aside from reaching out to local colleges and gyms, BeActiveTogether is sponsoring different events to bring attention to the app. On Feb. 2, the app will be sponsor two individuals in the Fight For Air Climb. This event is a vertical race up one of Boston’s skyscrapers to benefit the American Lung Association.

Freilich hopes to raise awareness about social fitness by building a presence on Facebook and Twitter, as well as traveling to different schools and gyms in the upcoming months.

For any future students looking to get involved in entrepreneurship, Freilich offered a piece of advice: “Just got for it.  Jump in and take your idea as far as it can go. You never know what will happen.”

January 23, 2014