Sync your Self
Did you know that your menstrual cycle influences your fitness performance and well-being? Depending on which phase of your cycle you are in, you may need different types of exercises to optimize your health and happiness. But how do you know what to do and when to do it? That's where SyncyourSelf comes in. We use artificial intelligence to create personalized workout routines based on insights from your menstrual cycle data. Our product tracks your cycle, understands your fitness goals and how you like to exercise. Based on your feedback, SyncyourSelf suggests the best exercises for you over the course of your menstrual cycle. Our product is more than just a fitness app. It's a smart and supportive companion that empowers you to stay active and healthy throughout your cycle.
How might we make it easier for women to experience mental and physical balance through their menstrual cycle?
If you experience life through a female body, you are already familiar with the concept of menstrual cycles. You may not be fully aware of how it influences your mental and physical health. However, you definitely have intuitively experienced or noticed fluctuations in your mental and physical patterns over the course of your cycle.
Scientifically, why does this happen?
A menstrual cycle starts on the first day of the period and ends at the start of the next period. An entire menstrual cycle usually lasts between 24 and 38 days, but menstrual cycles can vary from person to person, cycle to cycle, and may also change over the years.(Source)
Our menstrual cycles can be split into 4 phases. Our hormone levels fluctuate over the course of these 4 phases.
Research indicates mixed conclusions on the level of influence our female sex hormones have on our physical adaptations.
That said, the majority of scientific research I read and my user research below clearly indicates that our fluctuating hormones over the course of our cycle do impact our psychological perception of motivation and physical performance levels.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of high quality data, any further conclusions cannot be drawn. This is the primary drawback of this problem space. However, with an evolving FemTech industry, there is hope that the research data and quality will improve over time.
User Research Insights
I interviewed 7 potential users. All interviewees were menstruating women.
Of those interviewed,
- 1 woman did not identify physical fitness as a priority
- 1 woman was on birth control
Here are the key user trends I noted:
- Fitness goals: The interviewees mentioned that their current fitness goals are focused on staying active and maintaining overall well-being, rather than specific aesthetic or strength goals.
- Exercise frequency and types: Most interviewees exercise around 3-4 times a week, engaging in various types of workouts such as Pilates, weight training, incline walking, and specific fitness classes. Some also mentioned incorporating lighter movements or rest days during certain phases of their menstrual cycle.
- Menstrual cycle tracking: The interviewees used different methods to track their menstrual cycles, with 3 mentioning the use of the Flo app. While they found the app easy to navigate and appreciated its automatic period tracking feature, they expressed a desire for more insights and information related to their menstrual cycles.
- Challenges and changes during the menstrual cycle: Interviewees mentioned experiencing mental and physical challenges during different phases of their menstrual cycle. These challenges included mood swings, irritability, difficulty focusing, and physical discomfort. They also noted adjustments in their exercise intensity and preferences during specific phases, opting for lighter workouts or rest days.
- Coping mechanisms: Interviewees mentioned utilising various coping mechanisms during their menstrual cycle, such as engaging in activities that provide comfort, reading books, watching movies, and consuming sweet foods. They also mentioned using technology, like scrolling through TikTok, as a means of relaxation.
- Awareness of menstrual cycle impact on fitness: While some interviewees were aware of the impact their menstrual cycles had on their fitness performance and adjusted their exercise routines accordingly, others mentioned limited awareness in this regard.
- Use of fitness apps: Most interviewees did not use fitness apps extensively, with one expressing a negative experience with a calorie-tracking app. They preferred not to track exercise or steps, as they felt it negatively impacted their mental health.
These insights suggest that the interviewees prioritise overall well-being and adapt their exercise routines to accommodate the different phases of their menstrual cycle. They value simplicity, ease of use, and personalised insights when it comes to menstrual cycle tracking and fitness apps.
High-level market research
I scanned the market to identify other relevant solutions in this problem space and found the following:
I am yet to find a technology solution that learns with the user to deliver personalised workout recommendations based on their fitness goals and the phase of their menstrual cycle.
Such a solution could potentially,
- Improve the consistency with which women exercise over the course of their cycle. Taking them one step closer to their fitness goals.
- Educate them on the relationship between their body, mind, and menstrual cycle
Landing on the Solution
Based on the research within my problem space, I’ve identified key features of my future solution.
Enable data transfers from existing cycle tracking applications like Flo
Why? This will help the solution understand the user’s menstrual cycle patterns from Day 1 using a cycle tracker that they are already familiar with. This reinforces the ethos of ease-of-use.
(Differentiating feature) Develop a semi-supervised machine learning model that learns from anonymized user data to deliver a personalised user experience
Why? This feature will help the solution learn from its users and curate personalised experiences to push them closer to their fitness goals.
Create a minimalistic user interface that allows the user to easily access their workouts for the day
Why? This feature will ensure users find the app easy to use especially on harder days of their cycle
Create an insights section that educates the user on their cycle phase, the type of exercises and food to eat in this phase
Why? This feature will educate interested users on the relationship between their body, mind and menstrual cycle.
- Use social media to build a community and educate more female humans on the connection between their body, mind and menstrual cycle
- Improve my credibility in the problem space through a period coach certification to better empathise with the problem
- Draw insights from a deeper understanding of the problem space and user research
- Source a larger group of interviewees from social media to conduct user interviews and surveys
- Given the diverse range of user groups, this will help me identify which groups to prioritise
- Initiate work on the solution space for the target user group
Product Manager Learnings:
Co.Lab’s SPRINT26 was a great learning experience.
Going into the program, I had:
- Prior experience in identifying existing products relevant to a user’s needs
- A venture idea at the intersection of artificial intelligence, menstrual cycles and women’s health
I lacked any formal Product Management frameworks and mental models.
Co.Lab taught me:
- To identify a good problem space - Focus on things that don’t change.
- Humans don’t simply buy products or services, they “hire” them to make progress in specific circumstances.
- Product managers are the bridge between the problem space and the solution space. But, product managers have to lean HEAVY into the problem space. The solution space is honed through effective collaboration.
- User research interviews are an opportunity to understand users in my problem space. Treat it like a conversation. Listen to their story.
- Product specifications at their core are communication tools that can ensure stakeholder buy-in. A clear and concise spec that communicates the problem and why it matters can enable a shared understanding of the product across stakeholder groups.
- Prioritisation is necessary due to limited time and technical resources to build the idea. Prioritisation is best done as a cross-functional team of Product, Design, Engineering and other stakeholders.
- Minimum Viable Product is the first working version of your product with just enough features to add value to a target customer group. It deals with one key issue in your problem space.
- Before you build your product, you need to understand your product’s posture i.e. how the user interacts with the product.
- Organise the build phase of your product like a cake - around vertical slices of features that add value instead of horizontal slices of code.
Co.Lab gave me the opportunity to:
- Connect with peers from other North American cities
- Finally start work on my venture idea