Contributing writer Susan Hassan, a long-distance runner and Insanity-workout enthusiast, reviews the Gym-Pact app in today’s post. Check out whether the dollars can keep you dialed in to exercise!
Gym-Pact is an app available for download on both the iPhone and Android that I have been using since last fall to track and motivate my exercise. It relies on the behavioral economics principle that people are compelled more by fear of losing something than by the potential to gain. It also utilizes “pre-commitment contracts” based on the idea that you are more likely to follow through with something if you commit in advance, particularly publicly. I am a fitness device/app junkie, so when I heard about this service I decided to try it out.
How Gym-Pact works
Each week you commit to working out a certain number of days the following week, and pledge money for each missed workout. The rules stipulate that each workout must be at least 30 minutes long and only a single workout a day can be counted. At the end of each week, users who achieve their pact are rewarded with financial payments generated by those who did not make theirs.
Recent payouts have been in the range of $0.30 to 0.40 per workout, and rewards can be withdrawn via Paypal once you have accumulated $10 or more. I have personally pledged $10 per missed workout and usually commit to 5 days of exercise per week. While I have been a motivated and consistent exerciser for many years, the threat of losing $10 for missing a workout is a definite incentive to make sure I log all my workouts for the week.
I primarily access the app through my iPhone (download is free), although on occasion I log onto the website. The interface and functionality are clean and easy to use, and the main page charts the weekly workouts that I have completed against the number pledged.
Highlights of Gym-Pact
The main appeal of this program is the flexibility to exercise either at home, in the gym, or outside via integration with the Runkeeper app. The at-home option was a significant enhancement for me since I could now get credit for doing the Insanity workout that kicked my butt for an hour each day. With the at-home option, your phone’s movement is used to determine how many minutes you have been exercising.
The gym feature is great in that it uses GPS technology to enable you to “check-in” to a nearby gym based on a significant database they already have compiled. You may also add new gyms that Gym-Pact will count once the gym location is verified. This is particularly useful if you are traveling and using a hotel gym that is not already in the database.
Disadvantages to the App
A major downside of this app is that RunKeeper is the only fitness tracker app with which Gym-Pact currently integrates. As such, I cannot get credit for runs with my Garmin watch or activity logged on my Fitbit. I am sure they are considering expansion but have not heard of immediate plans to add new partnerships of this nature.
Another shortcoming is the fact that you must log 30 consecutive minutes in order for the workout to count. Research shows that breaking up exercise into smaller chunks may make exercise more manageable and therefore more likely to be achieved. Moreover, lower impact workouts like yoga that are done at home may not be credited due to the insufficient amount of movement that may not get picked up the by the app. I have indeed found that the stretching segments of the Insanity workout typically do not register.
FInal Word on Gym-Pact
Overall, I find Gym-Pact to be easy to use and a good motivator to maintain my exercise habits given its flexibility and range of options to log physical activity. It further helps to overcome the all-or-nothing mentality that many people have with exercise. If I do not have time to do a full workout on any given day, I can at least try to squeeze in a 30-minute walk that will be counted towards my weekly workouts. I would definitely recommend the Gym-Pact since it is a versatile solution to kick-start and maintain a consistent workout routine.
Overall Grade: 4 out of 5