This week we’re excited to introduce you to AJ Self, senior iOS engineer and the person who’s making the Fitbot iPhone app for clients a reality!
How did you first get into software development?
I’ve been playing with code on one level or another since I was a kid. In college, though, I was minoring in photography. The photography department was treated as a commercial skill and is a part of the industrial technology department, not art. As a result I took a lot of programming and Web design courses and found that I was very well suited to it and decided to earn a degree in Web languages and databases as a result.
Where are you from originally? What brought you to Boulder?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and moved to the city after college. My future wife moved to Chicago from New York after she finished medical school and began her residency at Lurie Children’s Hospital. While we were engaged she began interviewing to pursue a fellowship in Hematology and Oncology. I was fortunate enough to travel with her coast-to-coast as we planned the next phase of her career and a new chapter in our lives together. We decided together that she should rank Children’s Hospital Colorado as her first choice for their stellar work in children’s patient care, the vibrant outdoor lifestyle that Colorado affords, and a great tech scene for me.
We are an avid outdoor couple. For example, I proposed to Chelsea while we were backcountry hiking in Banff, Canada, our honeymoon is a backcountry trip in Zion, Utah, and for her birthday this year we rode a century at the Fulton Gran Fondo in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We’re “get up and go outside” kind of people and looking forward to exploring all that Colorado has to offer.
What role does fitness play in your life?
I workout several days a week, run for fun, and like to ride my bikes a lot. I hold fitness as one of the core components of my personality. However, what brought me to Fitbot was Fitbot’s ability to bring fitness to everyone, which I feel is everyone’s right.
What technologies are you most excited about right now?
I am in love with pocket computers. Each year the new iPhone pushes was we can do with handheld devices even further. I’m excited to see how the iPhone and Watch can be put to better use for health and fitness.
Do you think technology is having a positive or negative impact on people’s health and fitness?
I think it’s a very positive effect on people’s health and fitness. Apps, like Fitbot, make it easy to track workouts, communicate with trainers, set and complete goals, and track health statistics. Regular folks like me don’t have to worry about crunching numbers just to make sure that I’m improving over time. My phone is always with me and makes it easy to head to the gym whenever it is convenient for me.
What’s one tool or technology that’s greatly improved your quality of life in the past 5 years?
The iPhone has become a central component to my life and more than a communication tool. It manages how I work out, how I get to places, the phone case has even become my wallet and holds my credit cards. My phone holds all my important documents, entertainment, and has even become the focus of my career.
What’s your favorite part about working at Fitbot so far?
There’s a strong focus on personal responsibility and there is a sense of ownership of the projects you work on. The team works well together and it’s always a special thing when you have a team that is pulling in the same direction.
What do you hope to accomplish while at Fitbot?
Set the standard for the best workout app experience. Our users will be able to quickly move around the app always knowing what to do next while at the gym, communicate quickly with their trainer, or coach, sharing texts, photos and video.
What’s your go-to text editor or IDE? Tabs or spaces?
For better or worse when building an iOS app you are married to Xcode, otherwise I like Sublime or Atom with Vim mode enabled. Always spaces, never tabs. Now how many spaces can be argued till the sun comes up.
What does your ideal work setup look like?
Right now my current setup is a maxed out Macbook Pro with a 4K monitor, Das keyboard with Blue MX switches, a magic trackpad, and convertible standing desk. Software tools of the trade include Xcode, iTerm, Atom editor, Sketch, Dash, Charles, Reveal, Paintcode, and more. You’ll find me most at my most productive with a fridge stocked full of ice cold bubbly water.