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Play Highlight: SportsTech with Stefan Sillner

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

With concepts related to overall wellness becoming more important to consumers, fitness has become a goal for many people. As more people drift towards a lifestyle that fosters their mental and physical wellbeing, so too have investors in what is now a $100 billion global fitness industry.

No stranger to the business, this month’s guest Stefan Sillner joined DesignMakePlay to discuss his experience, as well as how he likes to incorporate technology and play into everyday fitness. A graduate from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, he brings with him over 20 years of experience in business development, and 17 years in the fitness industry where he has helped build profitable 8-figure enterprises.

"(I am) very passionate about tools that can help people overcome motivational barriers" - Stefan Sillner, Global Fitness Consulting

In his years as Vice President of Hammer Sport AG, a German firm specializing in home fitness, he realized that consumers would often purchase equipment with the intention of improving their health, only to use them once or twice before they began to collect dust. From a business standpoint, this was fine given that his company was generating revenue. From an overall fitness and value-adding perspective however, it didn’t sit right with him.

Fast forward to the present, Sillner is now an entrepreneur who offers his services as a business consultant, and is heavily involved with A-Champs Official, a Spanish SportsTech company that develops easy-to-use, playful, and science-based technology for training. Concerned with the sedentary lifestyle modernity has bestowed on many of us, A-Champs mission is to change the mindset of exercise and fitness from that of something repetitive or boring, to an activity centered around play.

“Wakeboarding, kite surfing, beach volleyball --- all these sports have something in common --- you exercise but you do not realize your effort --- you’re in a flow state where you just enjoy what you’re doing” stated Sillner.

Think about the exercise you engaged in as a child. You didn’t count the amount of repetitions you performed, or how many kilometres you ran. You simply played --- and through this mechanism you learned how to use your body and grew stronger after every session. In an industry where performance and breaking personal records is seen as important, we’ve abandoned the creative exploration of movement that brought us so much joy in adolescence. The immersion, or flow state you experience through play is important in the realm of fitness because it makes exercise more intrinsically rewarding, and without that it is harder to stay consistent.

Zen Maker Lab's Greg Beaudin mentioned in this interview that through his involvement with several physical literacy committees in the North Shore, a severe disconnect was discovered between elementary school students and their ability to perform basic movements. Of the more than 1700 students tested in regards to these movements and human kinetics, nearly 90% of children failed. Research shows that among children and adolescents, 17% are overweight, and 9% are obese. The economic burden of physical inactivity is estimated at $5.3 billion, and the burden to the healthcare system is estimated at $2.1 billion. Canada is facing an inactivity and obesity crisis whose impact on the cost of future chronic disease management could be disastrous.

A possible solution? Regular physical activity. According to Statistics Canada, regular physical activity among children and youth not only improves aspects of health like blood pressure and bone density, but has also been linked to greater academic achievement and elements of mental health like self-esteem. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle predicated on time spent watching TV or playing video games is linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and lower scores on various psychological health indicators. The hope here at Zen Maker Lab is that by incorporating physical literacy into our STEAM curriculum, and by communicating our DesignMakePlay philosophy, we can do our part in counteracting these alarming statistics at local levels to begin with, and eventually on a more global scale.

A-Champs Official’s product line includes a multi-sensory Cardiocage, the Aerofloor used by 80% of Premier League teams, and most prominent, the ROX Pro, which uses light, sound and vibration to create randomized training scenarios. The idea behind these products is to boost engagement for consumers across all skill levels, and at its core, camouflage physical activity as play.

To find out more about A-Champs Official and the high performance elements they’re creating visit their website at or their Instagram page by clicking here.

For more information about Stefan Sillner and his endeavours in the fitness industry you can find him on LinkedIn by clicking here, or visit Amazon and order his 2017 publication, “10 Powerful Habits for Success”.

Thank you, and see you tomorrow on DesignMakePlay!

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