Toronto - Need some motivation to hit the gym? Perhaps some
free merchandise will do the trick.
At least this is the premise that Nexercise is built upon, a
free iPhone app that tracks activities ranging from running and weightlifting
to fencing and polo and rewards users with free and discounted merchandise in
the hopes that users will adopt long-term exercise habits.
"We're trying to create a lifestyle - not a quick fix,”
said co-founder Benjamin Young. “We don’t focus on how many miles you ran or
how many pounds you’ve lifted. You get points in the game for healthy
Users can accumulate points based on the length of their
workouts and for other behaviors that reinforce frequent exercise habits.
Exercising with a friend or on a rainy day, for instance, allows users to
accumulate bonus points.
"A lot of it is driven by research studies. If you
exercise with someone, you’re more likely to continue to exercise." said
Receiving prizes is more of a lottery rather than direct redemption.
Users with more points have greater chances of winning prizes, and those that
have reached higher levels have access to more valuable prizes.
According to Young, the chances of winning a prize at the
lowest level are about 25%, with prizes ranging from $5 gift cards and coupons
for items such as energy bars, up to $250 gift cards.
Recent integration earlier this month with Kiip, a San
Francisco-based advertising startup, provides access to prizes from retailers
such as makeup company Sephora and vitamin and supplements maker GNC among many
Having recently completed an experimental run at the
University of Maryland, the app is still quite new and has some kinks.
It has been criticised for the quality of its rewards, which
Young said have improved with its recent integration with Kiip, and will
continually improve as the app matures.
"It’s a function of growth. We’re growing and the more
we grow, the more likely we’ll have bigger vendors getting on board,” he
Another common complaint is that the app can’t run in the
background, which means the app has to be open at all times in order to fully
track physical activity. Young said the problem is scheduled to be fixed in the
Other upcoming plans for the app include a contextual
notification system to increase engagement. For instance, if the app detects
that a user is motivated by competition, it will notify them when their friends
have surpassed them in the game.
A similar app called Earndit is also available on the App
Store and has partnered with some of the same prize providers. Other popular
fitness apps include Runkeeper and Nike+, which count calories and map trails,
but do not provide prizes as incentives.
Nexercise is available worldwide on the App Store.