Last week Bodbox gave a chat to a statistics course at Harvard about the world's first intelligent robotic trainer and why divergences from the mean are so critical - full video en route soon.
Sitting on the floor of my Berkeley apartment with an ethernet cable stretched the length of the tiny room, I would not have believed my life could transform so fast.
If you had told me I'd be giving talks at both Stanford and Harvard about a robotic trainer based on open cv I would have burst out in laughter. It's not that I didn't want to build this sort of impact but more that I had never seen the path or felt capable. I believe a lot of us struggle with this battle between pursuing what we actually want with complete focus and getting stuck in a common role of making excuses based in part on what we subconsciously believe others think we're capable of accomplishing. If everyone followed the second path, we'd never have outliers.
And deviations from the mean are what fuel the Bodbox patent pending training engine. Frankly, I was crushed by the outcome of Olympic trials and I needed something to put the same amount of energy and focus behind. I had gone into full coping/creative mode, rarely answering my phone even from family calls - all I wanted to do was create some sort of value where I saw mine taken away. Who was I and why did I just dedicated seventeen years of my life to something that didn't work? Startups are hard. But they're actually more likely to work than someone is to qualify for one of the two swimming spots on the Olympic team. Riddle me that.
Sean Mahoney, a good friend and current roommate, nearly banged down my door one day when I was deep in the heat of creation, selling Caffeine 2016 satirical coffee relentlessly. I could've stayed on my email all day, selling:
"I'm training you. You need structure. Tomorrow morning. 5:30. White Camaro on the corner of Telegraph and Dwight"
He slammed the door on me and it was my place - deviations from the mean.
Honestly I'm not sure if I was confused or inspired but I met Sean on the corner outside my place the next morning bright and early (after about two hours of sleep). But two hours of swimming and shadow boxing later, my demons somehow felt controlled. I was freed and clear to go back to the lab and build something valuable without distraction. Energy can be harnessed by structure.
I needed this structure and it's beautiful to me that as I continued to create and search for a place to provide some sort of value, I built the very service Sean provided for me as a life long friend. He provided me workouts, watched them, gave me feedback, and forced me to clean up my diet real quick. I'm not sure if he realized how helpful he was to my process as an athlete and entrepreneur and I'm still not sure what or who pushed him to come bang down my door.
To provide a service like Sean did at scale greater than 30 or so clients or athletes, there had to be an intelligent manner better than a simple app or online coach. There had to be something concrete, data driven - something that understood how the best athletes in the world worked and could apply it to anyone (even them) in order to give people the same freedom I experienced. Even if it was simple and watched and optimized a few of my movements, I understood immediately that the impact would be massively freeing.
Sean walked into my place a week after he had so perfectly interrupted my creative flow and his jaw dropped. What looked like a tornado of computer components, cables, and cords had been reborn into a single, self contained box. Thus the bodbox was born.
I used it to start optimizing my squats the next day. Could it tell me how many squats to do based on data from the best in the world? Yes. To train myself more optimally based on who I was and who I wanted to become felt overwhelmingly inspiring. And even if Sean was away, the Bodbox was there next to me at the rack. Always. And it wanted me to be the deviation from the mean. It could actually compare me to that deviation to decide what to text me as feedback (or squat rep counts in my case).
That's why the Bodbox matters. It (and Sean) showed me very clearly how not qualifying for the Olympic team was the single greatest thing that had happened in my life thus far. It directly sparked an understanding that pursing goals relentlessly in hopes of being the outlier you envision yourself is far and away the most rewarding way to move through life. With purpose, with focus, with a goal, and with a self determined fate.
"Impossible" in sports or business is very simply the outliers being discussed in Professor Parzen's statistics course. There is a process to becoming that deviation but we have to make an active and at times misunderstood or ridiculed decision to move in that direction.
Thank you early adopters for recognizing the importance of what we've built so far and where we're headed.
Chuck + the robot