Fitsby: Go to the Gym, and Compete with Your Friends

November 29, 2012

1:00 pm

One week after overindulging at Thanksgiving dinner – and then again on the leftovers – the gym has been calling us, but how many of us are answering?

If you’re finding it particularly hard to get to the gym this holiday season, Fitsby may be the app for you. Fitsby motivates you to go to the gym by turning your workout into a competition with your friends.

Using geolocation, users check in at their gym and work out for at least 45 minutes before checking out. You can compete with friends for one to four weeks, and the person who logs the most gym time wins money in the form of wagers placed at the start of the competition.

It’s kind of like paying for an expensive gym membership to motivate yourself to work out, but the stakes are lower, and the lost dough goes to your friends instead of the neighborhood mega-gym. It sounds like a decent motivator to me because – let’s face it – how many of us want to (1) lose money – even a small amount, and (2) hand our money over to friends who have bested us?

Below, COO Daniel Gaeta offers a behind-the-scenes look at Fitsby:

Tech Cocktail:  What was the inspiration behind Fitsby?

Gaeta:  “Our co-founding team is comprised of fitness enthusiasts, thus naturally we were drawn towards the fitness market. We wanted to help others become as excited about fitness as we were, and found that a lack of motivation was the primary problem. So after much reflection and research, we decided we could invoke motivation for everyone by fusing together things we already love to do: compete, socialize, and win money.”

Tech Cocktail:  Who is your greatest competitor, and how do you differentiate yourself?

Gaeta:  “I would say our biggest competitor would be GymPact. Their model works to pay you if you go to the gym a certain amount of times per week, but charges you if you dont go to the gym. Fitsby differentiates from GymPact in a number of ways. First, GymPact offers small weekly cash incentives ($1.50), while Fitsby offers cash prizes that can be anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on the game you join. Additionally, we incorporate a social and connectivity aspect so that you can involve your friends and family, or even join a game with individuals you have never met. GymPact does not include a social aspect. Finally, Fitsby includes a competition factor, which further works to motivate everyone to go exercise.”

Tech Cocktail:  What is the biggest advantage of starting up in Champaign?

Gaeta:  “The biggest advantage is definitely the student population at the University of Illinois. The students are a great base to launch our product and because the university has one major gym, they can be an immense support for our viral launch.”

Tech Cocktail:  Describe a challenging moment or a crucial decision for Fitsby. How did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?

Gaeta:  “A huge decision for us was pivoting from our original plan. We first wanted to create a social fitness network, but after testing our product with customers, we learned that it was not a product that they were excited about.”

Tech Cocktail:  What do you enjoy most about working on Fitsby?

Gaeta:  “We enjoy speaking to users and incorporating their unique input. Fitness is not just an activity or category, it’s a lifestyle. Anytime we can get away from our computers and engage with someone about fitness or going to the gym, it reminds us exactly why we started Fitsby.”

Fitsby was a featured startup at our Tech Cocktail Champaign Mixer & Startup Showcase.

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Meg Rayford is a communications consultant based in Northern Virginia. She previously spent two years as the Director of Public Relations for a nonprofit startup, where she learned a lot about providing clean water for impoverished countries, even within the confines of a bootstrapped startup. She is the editor of Tech Cocktail, and she develops media strategies for companies in Washington, DC and Virginia. You can read her most recent work in the marketing chapter of the upcoming book, "Social Innovation and Impact in Nonprofit Leadership," which will be published in Spring 2014 by Springer Publishing. Follow her @megkrayford.

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