Didn’t Go To The Gym: That’ll Be $5

Ever heard of putting a quarter in the jar for saying a swear word? Now apply that to failing to follow through on your New Year’s resolution.

With the new year rolling in, many people resolve to lead a healthier life, whether it’s eating better or losing weight. And just like all other years, most Americans’ enthusiasm and commitment will begin to decline as the year moves on. According to PRWeb.com, recent University of Illinois research shows this is due to a cognitive disconnect called “self-efficacy,” a confidence needed to succeed.

But this year, one particular tool to help people commit stood out. Instead of a brand promising success, why not make the shopper commit to themselves? The mobile app, Gym-Pact, actually fines individuals for failing to exercise. When a user signs up, they have to determine two things: 1) How many days a week they will commit to visiting the gym, and 2) How much money per missed visit they’ll chalk up. Then with the use of smartphone technology, users simply check-in every time they make a trip.

“Behavioral economics show that if you tie cash incentives to things that are concrete and easy to achieve like getting to the gym, it’s very effective,” said co-founder Yifan Zhang in an interview with the New York Times. “People don’t like losing money and it’s one of the strongest motivators, much more than winning money.”

And if that wasn’t enough, users are rewarded with cash for following through with their commitments. Of course, paid out by those who failed. While Gym-Pact is certainly not for everybody, it’s an interesting twist on the psychology behind New Year’s resolutions is intriguing. Instead of prompting the user with a less actionable “New Year, New You,” it gives them something to lose.

For more information on New Year’s Resolutions around health and wellness, download a copy of The Checkout – Issue 7, 2011.