Are We Seeing the Rise of Second Gen Fitness Apps?

July 21, 2015

3:00 pm

I have a nagging concern that lives in the back of my head regarding the evolution of our technological world. Will it ultimately separate humans from each other, compartmentalizing is inside boxes where the world we live in is viewed through phones, VR sets, tablets, etc? It’s a terrifying, dystopian world I never want to inhabit.

Technology is by no means the primary suspect in this thought obviously – many things come into play. However, I think innovators have a sort of responsibility to not create to satiate lazy desires. Thankfully there are a host of entrepreneurs who would agree with me as is evident in the myriad fitness apps and wearables.

I recently talked with the team at Turf.ly – one such fitness service – and they laid out some frightening statistics for me about overall activity levels in America:

  • 99 percent of Americans know they need to exercise regularly
  • 79 percent of Americans don’t meet the CDC guidelines for physical fitness
  • 5.3 million deaths were attributed directly to inactivity in the last year
  • Half of all step tracking wearables end up unused after six months

This was all further compounded by an article I read on Complex recently that states “28 percent of the American population sat on their ass and did nothing last year”. The team at Turf.ly had a quote of their own, from Tim Cook, to sum up all of this as well: “Inactivity is the new cancer.”

It’s a macabre statement, but it rings painfully true. There are a litany of diseases and conditions that are a direct result of being inactive and overweight. However, there’s hope because Turf.ly also told me that over 171 million Americans count walking and running among their favorite forms of fitness.

Now, it’s so easy to get caught up in the negativity of these statistics that you can easily pass over the silver lining here. Turf.ly recognizes that walking and running – given that they’re the favorite form of fitness for millions – are relatively easy activities to do and costs literally no money.

However, they think that the majority of first generation fitness apps are geared too heavily towards hardcore athletes. They firmly believe that this alienates certain potential users and ultimately leads to negative reinforcement, moral licensing, and dropout.

To that end they’ve built their fitness app to solve a lot of the issues they addressed with these apps. For example, everything Turf.ly does is completely in the background of your phone operations: users never actually have to open the app for it to record their movement data. It also builds a baseline of ‘normal’ activity, establishes patterns, and displays it on a heat map.

The big news on their front today was that they officially dropped a hot, new Apple Watch offering: essentially it’s a live routing app for runners.

turfly

“We are incredibly excited to see Apple Watch create new engagement paradigms for fitness and health, and Turf.ly will be one of the first apps to take advantage of it,” says Turf.ly’s founder Tyler Martin.

It’s the latest in their efforts to take the fitness vertical by storm – Tufr.ly has already reached 49 different countries, but it’s been hot at home as well. The team told me the top five cities where there’s the most activity on their app:

  • San Francisco
  • New York City
  • Chicago
  • Washington DC
  • Dallas

I have to give it up, Turf.ly is a smart solution and it does operate very different from other fitness apps and services I’ve been introduced to. It’s smart on a lot of levels, obviously, but I think the crowning glory is that it’s so easy to remain an active user. In fact, about a quarter of all the users who have ever signed up for Turf.ly are still playing.

So, is this the beginning of a new wave of fitness wearables and apps? I honestly don’t know the answer to that one yet, but since I’m a huge gym rat you can bet I’ll be paying attention to the potential uprising of a second generation of services and apps. Any way you spin it though, I’m just happy people are getting off the couch and moving.

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

 

 

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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America's Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He's the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he's off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing...or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach. Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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