Despite our better instincts concerning data security, genetics companies like 23andMe are massively popular—with the $800 million global market for direct-to-consumer genetic testing projected to triple in five years.
Whereas most services analyze multiple genes for inheritable health conditions, Singapore-based startup ELXR is focused on just one: ACTN3. Known as the “gene for speed,” it influences the composition of muscle tissue, creating more fast-twitch fibers associated with sprinters and powerlifters. (Those without ACTN3 are predisposed to be better endurance athletes.) Combining analysis of users’ current fitness level and exercise goals with their ACTN3 count—ELXR creates a personalized fitness regimen.
“It was like a eureka moment,” says ELXR founder Steffan Fung, a former member of the Singapore Special Forces, on using the gene to design workouts.
While the science behind ACTN3 is sound, the gene can indicate only which types of exercise you are best suited for, not how good you will be at them. So don’t think you’ll be challenging Usain Bolt anytime soon.
A version of this article appears in the January 2020 issue of Fortune.
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