Have you ever walked into the gym, wandered about for hours only to decide to jump on the treadmill and leave discouraged after 10 minutes? I have and it sucks. But thankfully, there’s an app for that! Spitfire Athlete is the ultimate women's strength training app. It teaches you how to lift and promotes greatness and confidence for women.
We had the opportunity to speak with Erin Parker, the founder of Spitfire Athlete to get some insight on how the app has been able to reach thousands of women.
Erin, tell me about yourself and why you started lifting
I’m the founder of Spitfire Athlete, a women’s strength training app, and a 48kg/105lbs Olympic weightlifter. My all time PRs are 52kg/114lbs snatch, 67kg/147lbs clean and jerk, 94kg/207lbs squat, and 105kg/231lbs deadlift.
I was an avid marathon runner for years, and after a bad knee injury, I wanted to learn how to squat to become stronger. Little did I know I would fall in love with weight training. I recreationally lifted for a year, training like a bodybuilder, before discovering the sport of weightlifting. I fell in love after learning how to clean and jerk. It was simply the most badass I had ever felt. The idea of training in a sport where I could feel badass after every lift was irresistible.
Tell me about Spitfire Athlete
Spitfire Athlete is a women’s strength training app that teaches you how to train with 4-12 week training plans. Unlike other fitness apps with randomized workouts, we teach you how to train like an athlete towards a goal with structure and progression for sports like powerlifting, triathlon, and bodybuilding. We’re building a community of women who lift together and a future where women are half of the weight room.
How was spitfire born?
When I initially started researching how to build strength, I was frustrated with how most resources for women were only about how to look good and most performance-oriented resources were only created for men. Many women experience this problem, so I started working on spitfire as a side project to learn how to code. I developed the app, integrated feedback, and learned new programming concepts over the course of a year. Soon, I had an iPhone app with just 100 users but who were using it weekly and best of all - sending me their feedback that the training plans were working. That’s when I realized there was really something here - and started talking to my co-founder Nidhi Kulkarni (also a female athlete and engineer) about building this together. When Nidhi and I formally started working on Spitfire full time in 2013 is when Spitfire as we know it today - was born.
Why do you think it's important to pin-point women?
We are changing what it’s like to be a woman in the weight room. For many women, the weight room can be a negative place, with people staring at you or trying to give you “advice”. It shouldn’t be this way. Men often have “older brother” figures acquainting them with the weights and “teaching them the ways”. Why then, can’t we have older sister figures acquainting us with the ways of how to optimally build our strength? This is why we care a lot about building a community for women. We want to change the entire weight room experience for women, to build a culture of women building strength together. Imagine how different our world could be if every woman was taught how to build her own physical and mental strength.
I read an article that said that Spitfire Athlete encourages women by giving them attainable/realistic goals. How is Spitfire Athlete different from other apps or programs?
Broadly, most fitness apps promote physical activity or exercise (movement for the sake of movement, or randomized movement to work up a sweat), whereas our plans teach you how to train. Training is structured, intentional activity completed over a period of time to achieve a specific goal or physical adaptation. While apps like Fitstar and Nike Training Club could be great for getting started with physical activity or exercise, they are inadequate when it comes to training. Basic apps don't cover barbell lifts, strength progressions, or endurance adaptations. Training is our emphasis. Our beginner plan, The Warrior, is a linear strength progression and gets our spitfires from lifting the bar to beyond their bodyweight for squatting, deadlifting, etc. Our beginner endurance plan, The Triathlon, gets people from a deconditioned state to being able to finish a sprint triathlon. There are other apps out there like 5x5, Cody, that actually cover training. But they aren't that smart, you're basically following a template and checking off the boxes. That's why we're building pro and introducing exercise progression/regression, teaching athletes how to progress from beginner training to intermediate training (this is harder than one realizes), and syncing with HealthKit/Google Fit to adapt training percentages based off nutrition, sleep, and period cycle - just like a coach would. We're going well beyond basic exercise apps, training apps, and tracking apps with what we're releasing with Pro.
GWPL is big on the community of female powerlifters, what would you say is the best way to promote unity in the sport?
I think one characteristic of a healthy community is when more experienced members take a novice under their wing and teach them the ways. When this happens, novices have a role model they can look up to, and will likely give back to the community in the same way, in the future. But it has to start with us. If we don’t have a culture of giving back and opening the door, we limit the pathways with which women get into strength sports.
What are your future goals for Spitfire?
We firmly believe in building a future where women are half of the weight room. Our goal with our community is to create an easy “on-ramp” to the weight room for women just starting to learn how to lift. Our vision for the future is one where more and more women have greater self-esteem and confidence from their training, and where they give back to the community and continue the cycle.
You can Download the iOS version on iTunes HERE