Staying motivated is one of the biggest hurdles people face when it comes to working out, especially for those who are just beginning an exercise program. As someone who has been a (fairly) consistent runner for almost two years now, even I struggle to get myself out of the door. A training schedule for an upcoming race definitely helps motivate me, but still, talking myself out of going for a run is much easier than I would like it to be some days. Now, however, thanks to GymPact, not only do I have to consider the detriment to my training when I skip a run, I also have to consider the financial cost.
GymPact, an app-based motivational tool that has been around for a little over a year now (available on iOS and Android), has customers commit to working out a set number of days each week (up to, but no more than, seven). This commitment, called a Pact, is not just a goal, though. The app requires that you put financial stakes on each workout. Stakes must be a minimum of $5/workout, but can be up to $50/workout, and workouts must last for at least 30 minutes (for runners/walkers, you must run for at least 30 minutes and maintain a speed faster than 30 minutes/mile). Workouts also have to be GPS-verified (i.e., a check in at the gym or a run recorded with RunKeeper) or can be recorded by the app using your device’s accelerometer. Keep in mind that if you do use the accelerometer feature, your workout must be above a certain intensity to be counted. If you do not complete your Pact by Sunday night each week, you will be charged per workout that you missed. Think of it as a “quarter-in-the-swear-jar” thing, but for exercise. I made it easy on myself to start with and committed to $5/workout and 3 workouts/week. This means that if I only run or work out 2 times a week, my credit card or PayPal account will be charged $5. If I only get off my butt once, my account will be charged $10.
Of course, one could argue that plenty of people pay for gym memberships every month, but never actually use them, so, in some ways, financial loss is not always a great motivator. I would argue that if you think this is the case, you should make sure to set up your Pact so that the amount you stand to lose is really going to impact you enough to want to avoid losing it. If I was going to lose more than $20 for avoiding a mere 30 minutes of exercise, you bet I’m going to get it done! GymPact goes a bit further to sweeten the deal, though, and actually pays you for sticking to your Pact using the money collected from people who didn’t complete all of their workouts. The money you’ll receive is not much, only about $0.50/workout, and you are only paid for the workouts you commit to, but it’s a nice little perk. The fact that the financial reward is so small also negates the chances that someone would try to cheat the system. Would you sit in your gym’s parking lot for 30 minutes for $0.50? Probably not. I should also note that you can schedule breaks for your Pact if you know you won’t have time to workout for a week or two. In addition, if you get sick or injured during the week and can’t complete your Pact, an email from your doctor or place of employment will get you a refund if you are charged for the days you missed.
Unfortunately, despite being around for over a year now, it seems like GymPact is still working out some kinks in the app and their billing system. I’ve had the app for two weeks now, and haven’t gotten paid for completing my first Pact, yet. Nor did GymPact acknowledge that I had completed the Pact with an email, as it says they will every Monday or Tuesday after they tally up everyone’s workouts. Per their FAQ page, I’ve submitted a couple inquiries using the “Report a Bug” feature, so I’m hoping I will hear back soon about the status of my rewards! I’ll be sure to update this post when I get some information. Many people report having to manually contact GymPact every week in this way to get their rewards, and others have reported that a glitch in the app deletes their workouts sometimes, so they don’t get credit and end up getting charged for missing them. Yikes.
I haven’t been charged for anything, yet, so I’m going to stick it out for a little while longer to see if things improve. If they can get the kinks ironed out, I think GymPact could be a really fun, and widely used, motivational tool. However, it is disconcerting that it has been over a year since their launch and they are still having so many problems, especially because they hold onto users’ credit card and/or PayPal information. A new version of the app was released today, so hopefully this addresses some of the issues![UPDATE: Just checked out GymPact’s blog and rewards for the previous week (my first full Pact week) are being issued on Thursday this week. That would explain why I haven’t gotten my rewards, yet!] [UPDATE 2: Got my rewards notification late Thursday night. I made $1.11 for my first week, which is $0.37/workout. Not much, but money is money, right?]