Got a Favorite Fitness App? Meet the Guy Who Makes It All Work

Got a favorite fitness app to track your runs, rides & workouts?

You know...Strava, Garmin, Nike, and many others.

Last year health & fitness apps were download an estimated 2.48 billion times, according to tech-industry data.

Click, swipe and tap, and a fitness app gives you: 

  • Personal performance data
  • A boost of motivation, and...
  • Easy access to a community of runners, bikers, and other athletes chasing similar goals

Pretty cool, right?

Meet the guy who makes it all work...

👉Mo Iqbal can crush a five-minute mile and push the intensity of a strength training workout.

He was recently featured in Men's Health magazine in the UK.

He's also the founder and CEO of SweatWorks (recently named to the Inc. Magazine 5000 list), a software and hardware design agency that's helped over 100 brands build health and fitness apps to change the lives of millions of people for the better.

Mohammed Iqbal is the founder and CEO of SweatWorks, a design agency that builds software and hardware for health and fitness brands.

1. When did your interest in health and fitness begin?

Mo: I was born in Dubai in 1980, and lived a very active lifestyle. Lots of soccer, lots of healthy food, lots of fish.

When I was 11, my family immigrated to America. I remember landing at JFK International Airport feeling hungry after the long flight. And something smelled really good. It was Cinnabon.

  • I ate a cinnamon roll and remember thinking, "America is the best. You can get anything you want here."
  • But my healthy lifestyle kind of went downhill after that. 
  • By the time I was 13, I had gained like 50 pounds. You couldn't even see my neck. I was fat.

And then I picked up a book called: Optimum Sports Nutrition: Your Competitive Edge

It changed the way I thought about food, and I knew I had to make some changes.

  • I started running when I was 14.
  • I joined the cross country team when I was a freshman. It took me 22 minutes to run a mile.
  • I was on the track team and played other high school sports.
  • By the time I was a senior, I ran the mile in 4:32.

I made a decision to live a healthy lifestyle back then, and just kept those habits.

If you use a health and fitness app to track your runs, rides & workouts, chances are pretty good SweatWorks helped make it happen. The design agency has created software and hardware for brands like Nike, Strava, Garmin, and many others.

2. What's the SweatWorks backstory?

Mo: I had a very successful career at Sharp Electronics, and then I decided to do the MBA program at Columbia University.

As an assignment, I had to come up with a business idea in an industry I didn't have a lot of experience in and develop a plan.

That's really where the idea for SweatWorks began a little more than a decade ago. I thought:

  • I'm really passionate about wellness.
  • The gym-membership model hasn't changed in 50-plus years.
  • The price of entry to join a gym, compete in races, or hire a trainer is really high.
  • A lot of people are intimidated by the gym, not sure what to do, and would be more likely to exercise at home
  • Maybe technology (like smartphones, computers and the Internet) could help solve these problems and make health and wellness more accessible.
  • SweatWorks officially launched in 2012 with me and two other people. Now we have over 200 employees in offices around the world.

Over the past decade, SweatWorks has created health and fitness apps, software and hardware for brands like:

  • Bose
  • Garmin
  • SoulCycle
  • Nike
  • Schwinn
  • Equinox
  • Spartan Races
  • BeachBody
  • Ragnar Relay Series
  • Samsung
  • And many others
Based in Arlington, Va., SweatWorks has an international workforce of more than 200 people who design tech tools, hardware, and software for health and fitness brands.

3. What does wellness look like at SweatWorks?

Mo: At SweatWorks, this is something we do in a very intentional way. For example:

  • We have three paid wellness days a year. 
  • No meetings are allowed. 
  • We host a guest speaker. 
  • We encourage everyone to go out and move, meditate, unplug, or do whatever it is that helps you relax and feel comfortable.

It's different than taking some vacation days, because the entire company isn't working. 

It's zen, complete zen. Planning wellness days like this means you haven't missed anything. There's no meetings scheduled. It's a true opportunity to reset. 

"It's zen, complete zen. Planning wellness days like this means you haven't missed anything. There's no meetings scheduled. It's a true opportunity to reset."

—SweatWorks CEO Mo Iqbal

I think it's important to find opportunities to recharge and reward yourself.

It's also pretty cool to see people posting their activities every day and sharing their runs, hikes, walks, or going to the gym on Strava.

SweatWorks founder and CEO Mo Iqbal has a standing appointment to run or workout between 7:30 and 9:30 every morning.

4. What's your workout routine look like?

Mo: I workout between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. every single day. That's what's on my schedule.

I wake up about 5:30 a.m. and catch up with the SweatWorks team and clients overseas.

I take the dog out and have a coffee. And then I go for a run or do a workout.

I try to balance cardio, strength training and recovery. 

And I plan my workouts based on other factors like what time zone I'm in, or if I'll be travelling. It's always intentional, never random. I like to follow a training plan.

  • Mo tracks all of his runs and workouts (including Peleton workouts) on Strava
"If I can look forward and say SweatWorks is actively getting people into fitness and helping them stay committed to fitness, I think that would be amazing." -SweatWorks CEO Mohammed Iqbal

5. How will fitness apps impact the future of healthcare?

Mo: Our healthcare systems is a reactionary model. If you see a doctor today, you're going to be treated for a specific ailment or problem. It's not a preventative model of care. And we're never going to move ahead if we stick with the treatment-based approach.

I think we're going to see tech companies and the broader wellness community create disruptions in healthcare to change that.

That can start with how we collect data from fitness apps, tracking devices, and phones, and what we do with it.

Imagine going to the doctor and reviewing data from a fitness app about your:

  • Diet
  • Sleep
  • Water intake
  • Steps
  • Alcohol use
  • Food sensitivities
  • Physical activity
  • Heart rate

Everyone has a unique fingerprint. Taking a more individualized approach to health care like this has the potential to change the lives of the majority of Americans over the next 10 years for the better. And we want to be part of that.

"The purpose of our company is to understand someone's brand and how we can use that brand's philosophy to impact more people." -SweatWorks CEO Mohammed Iqbal

Fun facts about Mo Iqbal

Founder and CEO of SweatWorks, a software and hardware design agency for health and fitness brands.

👟Favorite running shoe

Nike Air Zoom Pegas 39

Favorite watch

Apple watch and Polar Vantage 2. I use both to test fitness apps we're working on.

🏃‍♂️Longest distance I've ran

26.2 miles. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2018 and finished 3:14.

💦Favorite hydration drink for training

Anything by Nuun. I'll usually have a Nuun drink before a workout or when I come back from a run or workout.

Morning routine

Almost always includes a fasted run and a cup of coffee

🏁Favorite race

I grew up in the New York City area. I've never ran it, but I think the New York City marathon is my favorite race. It's tough. You're not going to get your fastest time on this course.

🏆Fitness goals

  • Qualify for the Boston Marathon and run a sub-3-hour marathon. I probably need to run at least 5 minutes under that to make it.
  • I also measure my fitness level by training to run a 5-minute mile at least once a year.

Top fitness apps I use

  • Strava to track all of my activities (paired with watch and phone)
  • Oura to track sleep, recovery, blood oxygen levels (paired with phone)

👊Health & wellness advice

We all have a lot of competing priorities. But when you invest in your health and wellness, it actually makes everything else in your life better. 

  • Your ability to work improves. 
  • It helps you be a better parent. 
  • It helps you be more present. 
  • It's an investment that can make you happier and healthier. 
  • And it doesn't have to be complicated. 

Put on some running shoes and go. It's a great way to release endorphins and get your mind in a good place.

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Evan Jensen
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I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM...


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