GymPact: Breaking the Commitment Breaks the Bank

Last semester, someone mentioned an app for the iPhone called “GymPact”. The basic premise of it is to commit people to working out with something the motivates just about everyone — money. I mean, I can’t tell you often I tell my husband “okay, we are going to work out today”, only to wimp out a short time later, because really, there wasn’t much to get me to go. This app is for people like me, who need a little extra incentive to work out.

So, what exactly is GymPact. Well, I think this little blurb from the website,, says it best

“How many of us have bought a gym membership and never used it? GymPact’s core involves this situation in which something you want later (having gone to the gym) conflicts with something you want right now (staying home to watch TV).

We realized that with real money on the line and easy, fool-proof check-ins at gyms, people could actually push themselves to get out the door and into the gym.”

Basically, a person is supposed to download the app for the iPhone, commit to going to the gym a certain amount of times a week, and how much money will be owed if that commitment is broken (an amount between $5 and $50).  Oh, and did I mention that you have to link a credit or debit card to your account, so if the user doesn’t check-in the committed amount, money is automatically withdrawn. The incentive? The money collected from the “commitment-breakers” is distributed to everyone who kept the pact. It’s typically only between .50 and .75, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

It’s an interesting idea, that’s for sure. A Harvard behavioral class developed GymPact and during a test run, the GymPact got 90% of its users to the gym, a percentage which has stayed that high since it was released to the public. The check-in won’t be valid unless it actually comes from the gym, hence why this can only be used on a smartphone (well, currently only the iPhone).

The pact can be used by just about anyone. People can commit to as little as once a week, up to seven days a week, and can be changed every Sunday. What if an injury occurs and the user can’t make it that week? A doctor’s note has to be sent to the GymPact team. GymPact really means business. Seriously, I think that this is a great idea. Money is a huge motivator, and with obesity becoming a bigger problem in the United States each year, drastic measures should be taken. Obviously, no one can be forced to use this, but if it gets one more person working out that didn’t in the past, I think it’s a success.

Since GymPact was launched, it seems to be pretty successful. Just check out the twitter account. People are constantly tweeting GymPact about successes. Not totally convinced? Head on over to the GymPact blog that has success stories, hints and tips from the CEO, Yifan Zhang, and motivation. After perusing the blog for a bit, I’m about convinced I need to try this out.

So I’m going to. After talking to my husband, we decided that once we get back from vacation, this app is getting downloaded to his iPhone. I won’t promise any big commitments; I mean, we are just poor, college students. But hopefully it will get us to the gym. Luckily, I lost all my pregnancy weight in a matter of a few days, but I want to get in better shape, as does my husband. But if I’m going to promote this app, I should use it, right? I’ll write a review on the experience and the app in awhile. Are you in?

(Right as I finished writing this, guess what the song being sung on The Voice is? Money Changes Everything. Coincidence, I think not!)

About the author

Katie Clark

Katie Clark

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

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