Thursday, January 26, 2012

An App for Those That Need External Motivation

Feature Entry: An App for Those That Need External Motivation

Here is what Carolyn See of the Washington Post said about law officer Sunderson: “He is still sick-in-love with Diane, who’s married again, and he’s a compendium of bad habits, but he walks every day and somehow keeps his life in balance.” It seems that many of us are a ‘compendium of bad habits.’

Another bad habit is related to exercise and the store front fitness centers in your neighborhood. January is their busiest time of the year for these usually worthy entrepreneurs. We gain weight, we repent, and then we join a fitness center. The centers charge a non-refundable minimum membership fee and a length-of-time contract, three months minimum due at signing. Joining is not the bad habit, regular attendance is. Too many people join, attend a time or two and then lose interest or motivation to continue. Then at the end of the year, we purchase new clothes, one or two sizes larger than the year before.

Want to change the cycle? Harvard behavioral economists may have the answer. Professor Sendhil Mullainathan teaches that people are more motivated by “immediate consequences than by future possibilities.” Two of his students moved from theory to practice and created a rapidly growing company based on an app that works off of their customers iSO phone (think iphone, ipad, ipod, and others). The company??? Gym Pact!

Gym Pact works with local fitness centers. When you sign up, you make a commitment to exercise a certain amount of time. If you skip your workout, you get fined $5 a day. The money goes into a user’s pool and at the end of the week, surplus dollars are given to the people that honored their pact. When the exercisers checks in to their fitness center using their iSO phone, Gym Pact confirms your presence via the GPS. The money is handled through credit cards and PayPal. In their beta test, 90% met their pact requirements.

It is that simple: “When you sign up, you make a commitment to exercise a certain amount of time.” There are four simple steps: 1) join, 2) set your pact, 3) check in at your gym, and 4) get rewarded.

Somewhere, in some dimension, B.F. Skinner has a big smile on his face. Go ahead, check out the Gym Pact url listed above.


Photo by Richmond College Fitness Center

1 comment:

  1. That pile of money in front of you keeps getting taller. It amazes me how much you pick up. I think I've found about $1.50 in six years of walking in my neighborhood and the nearby park. Maybe I should head over to the 7-11, the deli, the Starbucks, the Mexican restaurant, the florist. I do think having bars and a car wash ups your total.