[App Friday] Homegrown fitness app Zyoga uses AI to help you practise and perfect yoga postures

Launched by Backmarker Sports, Zyoga is an AI-powered virtual yoga guru that offers curated content to deal with every problem — stress, anxiety, desk-related pains, and more. The best part? It uses motion tracking to provide real-time feedback.
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Staying fit when confined to our homes would not have been so easy without the many fitness apps on offer these days. A consequence of the pandemic and resultant lockdowns was a spurt in at-home fitness apps – as many as 71,000 new fitness and health apps were launched in 2020, a 13 percent increase over 2019, according to a report by mobile data and analytics provider App Annie.

In this week’s app review section, we decided to pick a newly launched yoga app and see how it fares. 

Zyoga, launched by Gurugram and Bhopal based Backmarker Sports, promises you a virtual teacher who does not just show you what pose to do and how, but also detect if you are doing it wrong. AI-powered Zyoga offers curated and tailor-made fitness content, powered by real-time motion tracking technology. 

Backmarker Sports was launched in June last year by Vibhu Tripathi, Amitesh Mishra, and Karamveer Singh Bakshi, who have experience in sports analytics, influencer marketing, UX, and deep tech respective. They wanted to cater to the rising demand for anytime, accessible, and reliable fitness solutions. 

Zyoga went live in February this year. The app is currently available on Google’s Play store, and is soon likely to go live on Apple’s app store as well. 

Getting started

Sign up with an email ID or via your Facebook or Google account. The email ID is usually required when users are using the app as part of their employer’s corporate tie-up.

After you login, the app asks you why you want to use the app. The options include better sleep, reduce stress, improve focus, reduce anxiety, fat loss, and so on. It then asks how frequently you do yoga; you can tap the desired frequency (daily, once a month, or you haven't ever done yoga before this). We tapped daily, because that’s what the goal is!

The app focuses on holistic wellness and also checks if you meditate, before getting you started. To customise and personalise your yoga practice, it also asks you if you have any medical conditions, or suffer from general discomfort and fatigue.

The UI of the app is dark, enabling users to look at postures in the dark, without straining their eyes. It also gives the feel that it caters to a niche audience of fitness enthusiasts.

What we like about this app is that it is not just video tutorials. It gives you the option to do a guided practice without looking at the app. So, someone who knows how to do yoga can easily go with this mode, and yet to a guided practice for effectiveness. Since we selected our ‘reason’ as anxiety, the yoga sequence was given accordingly. Each posture was well explained in text as well as audio. 

The sequence is divided pose-wise, which lets a user take breaks in between. We liked this as it also gave an option to avoid a particular pose totally, if needed. 

AI at work

Zyoga offers AI-driven training. The app opens the audio-based session first, but to do it with a trainer, you need to swipe up. Here, the app makers give options. You can just see the video and start doing it. But to keep posture in check, you tap ‘start doing’ on the top right of the video tutorial, and your screen splits into two. The app opens your front camera, you adjust yourself to your camera, and the app starts applying its tech.

The app uses a smartphone's front camera to track the user and their movements through its AI-powered motion tracking and pose estimation technology.  

The founders tell YourStory that they have incorporated a lightweight convolutional neural network for human pose estimation and tracking; this is highly optimised for real-time inference on mobile devices. The model generates about 20 different key body points using the phone's front camera and feeds it to a second AI engine that predicts pose accuracy and gives feedback for pose correction. 

Image Source: Website

When we tried the technology, the app was about 80-90 percent accurate in identifying key body points and helped us get the right alignment. The only concern we had was regarding demanding postures, where you would not be able to see the phone for posture correction. However, opting for audio-only guidance can help. 

The app makers claim that Zyoga gives utmost importance to the privacy and security of its users, and none of its video frames is sent to the cloud. All processing is done on the device itself. 

How much do you pay? 

The app has corporate and individual user plans. It is offering free courses at this point, but it seems that the makers intend to monetise the plans. The app has a section called payment, which shows that some plans are coming soon.

The verdict

Zyoga is a good virtual fitness companion, bringing a personalised experience to users. The motion tracking and pose estimation provide an immersive fitness experience.

It has several other features such as in-app competitions and goal tracking to encourage users to meet their fitness goals and stay motivated. The app lets you work out at your own pace, time, and convenience. 

We found the courses short and wished there was an option to define how long you wanted your sessions to be. Overall, the app is still in its early stages and is a work in progress,  but we really liked it for making home yoga effective. Going forward, we hope to see more formats so we can stay fit and relaxed!

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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