Expanding Female Fitness Friendships: Critical Body Acquires womanhouse.net and monarq.co

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Beyond The Gram: An ambitious online fitness resource aims to create the world's first female fitness social network.

A group of women at the gym: Critical Body acquires womanhouse.net and monarq.co
Female fitness is about more than just exercise; it's about making seriously great friends.

As part of its efforts to bring members of the female fitness community together, online fitness resource Critical Body has acquired womanhouse.net and monarq.co.

According to the company, they are working on a female fitness app that will connect women based on their personal interests, geographical location, and training goals.

Critical Body Editorial Director Brianna Martin says that "most women love having a female friend to train with. It's a chance for them to socialize while keeping fit. However, it's not always easy to find someone with the same interests and goals."

Martin feels that given recent social isolation as a result of worldwide lockdowns, it's more important than ever that women form genuine connections with each other.

"While the app will facilitate in-person fitness-based friendships, users will also have the opportunity to perform remote workouts with a friend or a group of like-minded women," says Martin.

Monarq.co sets the groundwork

Every day a new tech startup is launched, but few of these creations have a lasting impact. Although the female social networking app is not around anymore, the Critical Body team feels that monarq.co was way ahead of its time.

According to Chicago-based personal trainer Tiana Walker, "monarq.co introduced the female community to niche social networking" and paved the way for future apps based around specific interests.

While monarq.co helped women to find female friends who shared similar interests, the future Critical Body app will be built for women who want to exercise together. Martin tells me that they plan to have "communities with a community."

When I asked her what she meant, she told me the following: "As women, we have very diverse fitness goals. Some of us might want a fitness companion to ease ourselves back into a proper workout regime, whereas others may seek a girlfriend that can really take our fitness abilities to the next level."

The company plans to split the app into sections based on the various athletic activities, with communities for runners, powerlifters, bodybuilders, students, and recreational weight lifters reportedly being available at launch.

Creating another womanhouse

When thinking of the name for their application, the Critical Body team was considering "Woman House Fitness" to create a sense of unity around its female users.

"What is a female fitness community if not a house of women?" asks Critical Body Editorial Director Brianna Martin. "We came across the original Womanhouse story—a 1972 feminist art installation—and were inspired by how a group of women was able to come together, learn new skills, and raise people's consciousness."

According to Martin, the company will not be operating its app under the Woman House Fitness brand name as they feel the point of the social network is to take women out of the house and into the gym.

"While we will be offering remote workout connections and home workouts, we want women to create lasting relationships based on their mutual fitness interests," says Martin.

How will a female fitness social networking app benefit women?

I'll be the first to say that the gym was a scary place initially. None of us girls would dare venture into the free-weight area over the fear of attracting unwanted attention.

Fast forward 5 years and more women than ever are lifting weights and displaying their feminine strength, a trend that Martin says has been helped by social media.

"When you see other women lifting weights in a typically male environment," says Martin, "that gives you the confidence to work on an aspect of your fitness that you may otherwise neglect."

Besides the confidence that working out gives women, Martin reminds us that strength training is as important for women as it is for men in the sense that it strengthens our bones, boosts our immune system, and fights off age-related muscle loss.

But despite the recent surge in female fitness, many women are still greatly intimidated by the prospect of working out in a public gym. The Critical Body team feels that they can bridge that gap by connecting women who have the desire to socialize while keeping fit.

Moving forward

With every startup success comes thousands of failures. So Critical Body plans to take extra care and attention when making their app, gathering feedback from as many women as possible to increase its chance of widespread use.

"Many of us are personal trainers," says Tiana Walker. "Since moving to online coaching in recent years, we’ve realized that our clients greatly desire an in-person workout companion."

Ultimately, exercise is social. Many of us will push ourselves harder and enjoy our sessions more when we have the encouragement of a female friend. Let's hope that women can connect and forge real friendships that make getting and staying fit less of a chore and more of a day out.

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Brianna Martin