Stay Fit or Pay Up with GymPact

The GymPact App

If your New Year’s resolutions included a promise to stay fit (and whose didn’t?) the biggest challenge you now face is keeping your workout momentum beyond the initial January push. For some, the motivation to be healthy or lose weight may be enough to establish a new gym routine. But let’s be honest, most of us fall into the category of people who can always seem to find a reason not to go come February. (Personally, I just hate it when my running shoes get soggy in the winter slush.) As it turns out, we’re exactly who the creators of GymPact are targeting.

GymPact’s a new iPhone app, which launched on New Year’s Day and which effectively pays people to go to the gym. Every week, participants make a pact: You choose how many days a week you plan to workout and select a designated amount of cash to fork over if you don’t (miss your target, and your credit card will be charged that amount). Then all you have to do is check in with your phone every time to make it to the gym (the check-ins only count if you spend at least 30 minutes there, so you can’t do a drive-by). If you reach your weekly workout goal, you get to take a chunk of the change forfeited by those who were too lazy to exercise. GymPact takes 3% of the pool of money taken from the gym-skippers, and allocates the rest of the funds based on how often those who did hit their targets worked outs. The more you burn the more you earn. Users get to make a new pact each week, shifting their targets based on their schedules.

The concept for GymPact was conceived in a Harvard dorm room by Geoff Oberhofer and Yifan Zhang, two 2010 grads who came up with the idea after learning about time-inconsistent preferences in a behavioral economics class (that’s the challenge we face when we contemplate wanting something in the future vs. what you actually want right now). “People are lot more motivated by the thought of loss than the thought of reward,” Gym-Pact cofounder Yifan Zhang told Mashable, and their concept seems to work. In trial runs, people in their pilot went to the gym 80% to 90% of the time they pledged. According to Mashable, they plan to partner with other workout apps like RunKeeper (another local startup) to allow you to get rewarded for exercising outside of the gym as well.

So is getting paid a big enough incentive to keep you fit? I don’t know about you, but it might be enough for me.