GymPact: The App That Makes You Pay for Missed Workouts

By Kellee Bryan

Carrot or stick? The idiom refers to influencing desired behavior through rewards and punishments. Imagine a cart driver dangling a delicious carrot before a mule while simultaneously holding a stick behind him. Does the mule move forward because he wants the carrot or because he wants to avoid the stick? Or is it both? The debate over which is more effective – carrot vs. stick; reward vs. punishment – isn't likely to find a definitive answer any time soon (and probably depends a lot on the particular mule in question).

GymPact, it seems, has sided with the stick. Download the iPhone app and setup your account, and every time you miss a workout your credit card takes a hit.

How much of a hit is up to you. You tell GymPact how many times you'll commit to hit the gym during the week, and how much to penalize you for a missed goal. (The minimum commitment is one 30-minute workout per week; the minimum penalty is $5 per missed workout.)

But workouts at home don't count. Neither do runs, bike rides, or other outdoor workouts. That's because GymPact requires GPS confirmation that you are at a place of fitness before giving you credit for a workout completed. Check in with your iPhone at a gym, swimming pool, or yoga studio, and GymPact can be fairly certain that you're about to break a sweat. Anywhere else, and GymPact isn't confident that a workout is actually taking place.

But it's not all stick. If you meet your commitment, you will receive a financial reward in the form of other people's paid penalties. Their stick becomes your carrot. That is, GymPact takes all the money collected in penalties over the week and redistributes the funds amongst those who managed to keep all their dates with the gym.

Personally, I rely far too much on the home workout as a backup plan (my yoga class plans are constantly being undone by my children) to be a good candidate for GymPact. It would cost me a small fortune over the course of a year. And I'm more of a carrot person anyway.

But what about you? Could you use a little stick in your workout, or do you prefer the carrot? What kind of mule are you?

Posted on February 9, 2012 05:00 PM
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