Need some motivation to go to the gym? How about some free merchandise? At least this is the purpose of Nexercise, a free iPhone app that monitores psysical activities, from running and weightlifting to fencing and polo and rewards users with free mercandise or discounts in the hopes that the users will adopt a healthier way of living.
“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 behaviors.”The lenght of the workout will give the user points and also other behaviors that reinforce frequent exercise habits will get you bonuses. 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 Young. According to Young, the chances of winning a prize at the lowest level are about 25 percent, with prizes ranging from $5 gift cards and coupons for items such as energy bars, up to $250 gift cards.
The app is still quite new and has some kinks. It have been recently completed an experimental run at the University of Maryland. It has been criticized 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 explained.
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 fall.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.