HAWTHORNE, N.J. — Frank Petruccelli was down 32 pounds when he returned to Hawthorne from a nine-month job in California.
He credits friends and personal trainers Eric VanTine and Angelo Guarnieri for his successful weight loss, and has seen the two work their magic on dozens of other clients.
But now Petruccelli is teaming up with his friends to help others achieve their fitness goals.
The three 26-year-olds recently rolled out "Gymi," a fitness chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
The boys are among a small group of people who will have the "native payments" feature on their app, which is powered by artificial intelligence.
Users can program their phone's fingerprint scanner to purchase fitness products and supplements directly from Facebook Messenger.
But back in September is when it all went down.
"A couple things came together at the perfect time," Petruccelli said.
Just as he was leaving his longtime job as an Apple engineer, VanTine and Guarnieri were looking for a way to automate the dozens of workouts they'd been writing for friends and clients.
That's when they called Petruccelli, who used his background in coding to help them come up with Gymi — try it here.
Facebook users can talk to the chatbot as they would a personal trainer for customized workouts, meal plans, fitness tips and more — or just another friend on Facebook.
Gymi is available globally but is being used in 70 countries. There are approximately 75,000 conversations currently under way.
Users can give a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to help make the bot even smarter.
The three friends have formed their first partnership with 4 Gainz Nutrition , a New Jersey-based supplement company.
Petruccelli knows firsthand that Gymi isn't a hard sell.
"It works," he said. "It's not a magic pill, just a way to diet and work out."
He promised results will come ... if, that is, users stick with Gymi's plan.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.