The gamification of fitness
In 2008 the chattering classes were getting excited about a book called Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. It was writted by University of Chicago economist Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School Professor Cass R. Sunstein, and used terms like “choice architecture” and “behavioural economics”, but the overall premise was concerned with the way people respond to incentives. This especially applies to fitness.
These days, we’re seeing ideas like this incorporated into what’s referred as gamification. By offering rewards, even if they’re small ones, people are more incentivised to participate.
One Dubai start-up is offering actual real-world rewards for clocking-up steps. Alex Light and Ben Walton, formerly of Dubizzle.com, have created an app called Styck. It measures the number of steps you take each day, but unlike the many other apps and devices that do the same, Styck rewards users with actual prizes rather than digital badges.
Completing 7,000 steps in a day will earn you a free gym session, while 8,000 steps will get you a free juice at Joga. Other rewards require you to hit the 7,000 daily target for a number of consecutive days. Co-creator Ben Walton says at present there are around 12 different rewards that can be claimed each month. All healthy, of course.
“We don’t want discounts or two-for-one offers; we want people to actually get something without having to pay for something else,” he explains and adds that their aim is to try and get people in the UAE who do virtually zero exercise to start moving.
The balance is important – too many steps required for a small reward and people won’t bother while making it too east will lead to companies becoming reluctant to offer items. If you drive to and from an office job and don’t take any other exercise then you’ll only clock up around 1,500-2,000 steps per day, but it’s not overly difficult to hit 7,000. “We have seen a streak of 18 days of consistent movement in March by one user and another clocked 22,000 steps in a day,” says Walton.
There are also larger monthly prizes on offer and they plan to introduce a leaderboard. Anyone who has been to a FlyWheel session will know the iuncentive that seeing live rankings can provide – either to be top, to not be bottom, or just to do better than your mates.
With Styck, the more who join, the more incentive there will be for companies to promote themselves via offering rewards, hopefully creating a virtuous circle of healthiness in a country that needs it.
Details: visit styckapp.com