GymPact Rewards Gym-Goers and Fines Those Who Play Hookie
We all need a little motivation, especially when it comes to the task of exercising. We want those washboard abs, those sinewy legs and those arms that ripple with confidence, yet sometimes it’s much more appealing to linger on Facebook, or scoop up that raincheck you made on lunch last week. Excuses are the downfall of most gym-goers who, without fail, make the same “lose weight/get fit” New Year’s resolution every year, but never quite make it to the gym to workout.
Yifan Zhang and Geoff Oberhofer knew that financial rewards motivate people. They also knew that it would take more than a reward to get people to do something and stick with it. While studying behavioral economics at Harvard, the two came up with a brilliant business plan that incorporated a financial incentive system with penalties. The idea was simple: people would get paid to workout, or get fined for breaking their commitment to exercise a certain amont of times a week.
After spending a year developing and piloting a program to test their research, the two were confident that they could create an app that would actually get people to the gym and keep them going for as long as they were a part of the program. They named the app GymPact because everything is based on a promise to workout.
So let’s say the user types in a plan to workout three days a week and plugs in a penalty of $7 (per workout) for skipping any of those days. (At minimum, users must commit to one 30-minute workout per week and agree to pay a $5 fine for skipping it.) If she checks in to all her workouts she receives a cash reward, which is collected from all the slackers who broke their pacts, and distributed among those who kept their commitments. If she misses a workout, her credit card is automatically billed $7. So she’s not only lost the chance to drop a few calories, but she’s also had her hard-earned cash thrown to the blonde uptown who kept her commitment the night before, and now most likely has a fatter wallet and toner thighs.
Each week the payout amount varies based on the number of people who break their pact, but Zhang and Oberhofer say most users are receiving between $0.50 – $0.75 per workout — not a bad deal for simply doing something that’s good for your health. “We realized that with real money on the line and easy, fool-proof check-ins at gyms, people could actually push themselves to get out the door and into the gym.”
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