Gympact App Makes You Pay for Skipping Workouts

Money is one of the best motivators for most people. And when money is tied to something like fitness? Well, you’re bound to get fit. Here’s a system that pays you when you workout and takes away your money when you don’t.

GymPact is an iPhone application started by a couple of young Harvard graduates – Yifan Zhang and Geoff Oberhofer. The entire concept is based on the idea that people do not like to lose money. Zhang, an economics major, says, “Behavioral economics show that if you tie cash incentives to things that are concrete and easy to achieve like getting to the gym, it’s very effective. People don’t like losing money and it’s one of the strongest motivators, much more than winning money.” The app is free to use and has a database that covers over 40,000 gyms. That’s more than 70% of the gyms in the U.S. If your gym isn’t listed, you can add it to the app. You pay money when you don’t work out and the amount that’s pooled up from the non-exercisers is divided up between those who do workout. A cut from that amount is taken by the company as profits. So let’s take a quick look at how the system works.

Photo © Contours Express

  • Download the app on to your iPhone
  • Choose the number of days per week you want to commit to going to the gym. A minimum of one day per week for 30 minutes is required.
  • Choose the amount you will be charged if you fail to hit the gym. The minimum for that is $5.
  • When you arrive at the gym, click the check-in button on your app. Since the GPS will automatically track your location, the app will know that you’ve arrived. If you try to cheat and leave before the 30 minutes are up, the app will cancel your workout.
  • If you fail to go to the gym, the credit card you listed on signing up will automatically charge you the amount you promised.
  • If you go to the gym however, you will receive money from the pool, which is an arbitrary amount. It depends on how many others were lazy and didn’t make it to the gym.


Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Of course people do fall sick and illnesses are accounted for. But get this – you need to provide a valid medical certificate or a note from your employer to get out of paying. GymPact so far has around 1500 users and the numbers are growing. I wonder how the app would make money if everybody went to the gym. Ah, who am I kidding, there are always going to be a few slackers.

via New York Times

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