Flexing new muscle in personal fitness

Man tapping at a tablet with exercise equipment in the background.


Nautilus partnered with Slalom Build to create a transformational experience for its customers – and help evolve it from an equipment manufacturer into a digital-first, experiential powerhouse.


Amazon Web Services, Solution Ownership, Experience Design, Architecture & App Development, DevOps, Concept Ideation, Agile Coaching


Kubernetes, AWS DynamoDB, Cognito, CloudFront, Lambda, Elemental MediaConvert, Docker, Jenkins, Helm Chart, Bitrise, New Relic, Loggly, Swift, Kotlin, Espresso, XCUITest

Reshaping fitness, redefining a company

A worldwide fitness giant and parent company to Bowflex®, Schwinn®, Octane® Fitness, and others, Nautilus ushered in a new era of exercise with its patented circuit-training equipment. Since its advent in 1986, an awful lot of fitness trends – the good, the bad, and the ridiculous – have come and gone.

Today, young companies are reshaping the industry by embracing new technology and leading with immersive, engaging, in-home digital experiences. Nautilus is a company known for its customer focus and it recognized the need to digitally transform – both to propel its business forward, and to meet its customers’ fast-changing expectations. Partnering with Slalom Build to create a fitness experience unlike anything else on the market was a natural next step in their evolution.

Together, we set out to build a platform that would provide the customized workouts of a personal trainer, the motivation of a running buddy, the data of a smart watch, and much, much more. The result was the Max Intelligence™ platform: a cloud-based app with an adaptive workout algorithm and robust microservices that provides customers with a highly personalized, transformational workout experience.

Still from a Nautilus video featuring exercise equipment and display tablet.

New kind of product, new kind of process

Today, fleets of stationary cyclists and treadmill milers are immersing themselves in new kinds of digitally focused workout experiences. Nautilus needed to do more than catch up with the competition – they needed to get way out in front of it.

But there was one major hitch. With a decades-long legacy of industry-leading equipment design, Nautilus had only used a waterfall process to work its fitness magic. They also had traditionally used third-party developers to create one-off apps. A running app for treadmills, a biking app for bikes. Bandaid solutions, really. Accessories to the machines. And initially, simple NetSuite integration is what Nautilus wanted from Slalom Build, too – but Build as a Service goes far, far beyond a build. After learning about the scale of our Build Centers and our Product Engineering Methodology – a living, breathing delivery framework in which we arrange people, skillsets and ideas into fluid, agile teams – Nautilus brought us in for a much bigger challenge.

We had the opportunity to help transform an incredible hardware manufacturer into an agile, digital-first modern product-development organization, all while creating a world-class experience.

photo montage featuring Nautilus Max UI and various tablet screens.
Line up of in-app Nautilus icons.

Custom-built, customizable, customer-focused

Our starting point: From scratch. Clean slate. Blue sky. In fact, that’s exactly what the Slalom Build team loved about it. This was emerging technology – a seamless integration of hardware, software, and data – and a golden opportunity to harness the power of Build as a Service, as well as the newest Amazon Web Services.

In mobilization, we hit the ground running. Our development, engineering, and experience design leads sat down with the Nautilus UX and firmware engineering teams to show them how we could help bring their customer experience to life. Communication was mission-critical, so we tackled tough questions from key stakeholders in real time. To keep the project moving forward, we set up a CI/CD pipeline to automate building, testing, and deployment.

We asked them how the equipment worked and who was using it. In turn, they asked us what was possible. Together, we decided the initial Max Intelligence platform would be BYOD: Bring Your Own Device, and we’d pair it with their flagship product, the Bowflex Max Trainer. The goal was to keep the user experience streamlined – just plug in, make an adjustment or two, and get moving.

Customers would connect to machines via Bluetooth, using iOS and Android native apps through an intelligent, scalable back-end platform that, for the first time ever, allowed Nautilus to put its machine data into a user context. To create the dynamic coaching feature, we built a technical platform that dynamically pulls in data and an algorithm to return it in a very complex fashion through varying elements like voice response and workout recommendations.

The app would capture individual workout data and ask users about their progress. Was the workout too easy? Too tough? Too much sweat or not nearly enough? The app would then use the data to personalize workouts, keep users motivated, and help Nautilus create future offerings based on these deep, data-supported customer insights.

App architectural diagram on a laptop screen.

Reshaping fitness, redefining a company

The Max Intelligence platform offers functionality that customers won’t find anywhere else. Activity tracking and dynamic coaching create personalized, one-to-one assessments and workouts that encourage progress and evolve with users – so they can achieve success with every workout. To date, the app is already motivating more than 16,000 customers, and counting.

The company has also established a whole new revenue stream through subscriptions to premium in-app services such as video workouts, Bowflex Radio, and more. Using data-driven customer insights, Nautilus can continually improve their products. And better products mean stronger sales. Moving forward, the platform’s flexibility, scalability, and intelligence will allow Nautilus to leverage it across its entire family of products while constantly evolving customer experience.

The extraordinary partnership between Nautilus and Slalom Build might just be our favorite measure of success. “This was honestly a career-highlight project. I think they saw us as partners, not just consultants,” said Casey Holland, Practice Area Director at Slalom Build. Our work together has helped Nautilus develop a digital-first mindset and future-focused agile delivery process, which will reshape its products – and the company – for years to come.

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