A couple of Harvard economics students have come up with a new concept to help people get fit. The gym program uses behavioral economics to motivate gym-goers to keep going back for more.
As most gym fees are paid upfront, there’s not usually a monetary penalty for not keeping up with the program. The new program, Gym-Pact, links an economic penalty or reward to your regular workout sessions.
Here’s how it works. Program members pay up to $25 per week when they don’t show up to exercise a least three times per week, and $75 for dropping out of the program altogether. Members who show up to work out 4 times a week don’t pay anything. They are also considering variations that may include smaller penalties on a daily basis, rather than weekly.
So really, you are agreeing to accept a financial penalty if you don’t stick it out. It’s the new self tough love.
The inventors of the concept, Yifan Zhang and Geoff Oberhofer, say they don’t want to profit from people’s failures. They say the company will eventually make money from referral fees and revenue sharing affiliate programs with various gyms. They launched the experimental pilot program at a Total Fitness in Boston, and with a follow-up group of gym-goers at Planet Fitness in Boston and Cambridge.
In case you were wondering, personal accountability is based on a text messaging system. E-tokens are kept at each gym’s front desk. Program members text a password on their way in and out of the gym. The digital password changes every 60 seconds, so it’s difficult to cheat the system.
Traditionally, this is about the time of year, late January, that people who’ve made a New Year resolution to get fit start to waver in their resolve. Do you think this is the kind of program that may help to keep people going longer, or not?