This is my new gym. I recommend dark roasted coffee and Danish cheese:
Well, I was hoping this was my new gym considering the mobile app GymPactallows you to mark any building as a gym. From there, whenever you “sign up” to the gym with a cell phone and stay in that geo-controlled location for more than thirty minutes, you get paid.
That’s right, you’re paid to “exercise”.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), GymPact didn’t fall for my cunning to make my local diner my gym. Just as I imagined in my own article on habit building:
Wouldn’t it be cool if the gym paid you for your workout. We would all be super-sculpted athletes, and gyms would be bankrupt. Alas, we are not and they are not.
Alright. So, a thought experiment is a reality. Why don’t we hear more about this phenomenal startup that recently teamed up with my favorite running app, Runner? Let’s see why the app works and why it doesn’t.
How GymPact works
GymPact’s application process is quite effective. I opted for online login, unlike the mobile version because typing on my smartphone is still tiring. GymPact on the other hand, REALLY wants you to become mobile. So much so that they made their application on the desktop look like an iPhone interface.
You start by setting up a pact or, how many days you will dedicate to going to the gym. The default 3 days a week will earn you $ 2.10 a week if you fulfill your pact. Prizes range from $ 0.50 to $ 0.75 per workout.
You place your bet on the next page. Missing training means a default of $ 5. That’s a lot more than, $ 50, isn’t it? Isn’t it fair to say? Well, as my fifth grade teacher used to say, “Life is a bitch and then you die.” Public schooling is phenomenal, as is this reward ratio. More on that later.
The next steps consist of linking your Facebook account and entering your credit card information so you can get a reward or ding. If you’re worried about giving your credit card information to a startup, it’s wise to take a break. However, the service is PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliantso I wouldn’t sweat. You will be charged a penny to verify your credit card.
The evidence is in the database
Your first task as a GymPact participant is to tag your gym. They claim that their gym base consists of 40,000 gyms. My local diner was not in the database, despite what I called “Mau’s Crossfit”. There’s an idiot CrossFit gym born every day, but GymPact is not an idiot and a snack bar is not a gym. At least not without some verification. I really thought I found a crack in their system until I received this email about twenty minutes after signing up:
Regards Mauricio Balvanera,
Sorry – we took a look at your gym. Mau’s Crossfit couldn’t check that yet.
Due to GPS verification, we cannot count gyms for home, apartment or office. We also find it difficult to verify new objects, smaller / niche objects and objects with less web presence.
If you think an error has occurred, simply send your gym’s name, website, address, and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org to check them out again! Until then, the training you have done here will not be included in your Pact.
My Danish cheese was no longer so delicious. I was not alone in my subversive approach. Their now removed demo video from YouTube was full of chalk commentators trying to play the system.
Why GymPact works
Game designers often study the delicate balance of reward / punishment systems. Like economists. Like sports psychologists. There is a system of encouraging human nature that makes GymPact’s concept meaningless. But just as game designers and economists are constantly tuning the system to balance the game, you may need to do a bit of your own rebalancing as well.
But don’t over-adjust it. Try a combination of $ 5 to $ 0.50. A one-step, ten-step back system will make you struggle to take those small steps. In fact, I think it’s analogous to how our own bodies react to inconsistent or ineffective training.
GymPact claims to have an effective rate of ninety percent. This may or may not be an inflated marketing marker, but the fact that the app forces you to be at the gym at the very least will more than likely make you exercise.
Why GymPact doesn’t work
After my Danish cheese incident, I came up with an alternative way to play the system with the help of friends in low places. There is no need to publish hacking, but the point is that the system is wrong in a way that affects the whole system. A successful payout set actually comes from a failed dinged pool.
I don’t want to imply that people’s first reaction will be to try to hack the system, but anyone who relies on monetary compensation as their primary reward for exercising is likely to fall into that category. And that brings us to the most important mistake in the system.
Why do you exercise? I immediately thought Simona Sineka Ted Talk, How great leaders inspire. Watch later because it’s a scary rabbit hole. But the basic premise is that great people have success because “why” overshadows their goal by “what” and “how”. If you exercise because you’re looking forward to the cash payout, YOU WILL NOT BE CAREFUL. He can’t. You will. If you exercise because you want to be healthier and happier, now we are somewhere.
Cash payouts can act as a secondary motivational tool, but it should not be your primary driver, so GymPact must be more than a payout machine to succeed.
So should I use GymPact?
That. It’s not a perfect system, but social checks help a lot, and the integration of RunKeeper is a big update. All rides (as well as walks and bike rides) that follow RunKeeper’s GPS will count as exercise. That’s as long as you work:
- Minimum distance of 1/2 mile.
- At least 30 minutes of activity where your pace is above two miles per hour (but slower than driving!). If in doubt, an extra 5 minutes of walking, running or cycling never hurts.
- Maximum 3 hours.
The application is currently free on iOS only, but an Android version is coming soon. Danish cheese is sold separately.