Posted by: Kate Ashford | January 10, 2012

The Latest Gym Incentive: Pay As You Don’t Go?

Girl on treadmill

Doesn't she look happy? She's avoiding a fine by working out!

It’s January. Tis the season for healthy resolutions and crowded gyms.

But come March, what might motivate you to keep hitting the elliptical at your local Gold’s or 24-Hour Fitness? A personal trainer? A photo of a svelter you? Or—and here’s an idea—what if you had to pay a fine every time you skip your workout?

A new service is betting on the latter option. Sign up with GymPact, commit to a number of workouts per week, and if you don’t hit them all, you’ll pay a predetermined fine (minimum: $5) for every missed sweat session. And if you do keep your gym promises, you’ll actually earn money, paid for by all the schmoes who got fined. The amount you earn will vary depending on how many people paid into the communal pot and how many workouts you scheduled, but it would likely come out to about $1.50 per week. (So it’ll take you a while to save up for that Kindle Fire.)

A few things:

Thing 1: This app is only available for iPhone users, so Android, Blackberry and other off-Apple brands can’t join the fining fun, for now.

Thing 2: The app uses your phone’s GPS capability to know when you’re at the gym. So if you’re an outdoor exerciser (running, anyone?) or doing a Jillian Michaels video at home, this won’t work for you.

Thing 3: Isn’t this kind of the idea of paying for a gym, to begin with? The if-you’re-paying-for-it-surely-you’ll-use-it argument? Although I guess your gym doesn’t add money to your account if you go. So there’s that.

Still, GymPact claims that its users complete their promised gym commitments about 90 percent of the time.

Would this work for you?

(Photo from jamesmcashan on Flickr.)


  1. I really like the “you can earn money by going” angle, because it puts a positive spin on working out, and all too often, these “motivation” ideas are about punishment more than reward (and that’s why we end up not working out — because punishments/chores suck).

    But I have to admit, for me, this would probably turn into yet another subscription that I’m carrying and not really getting the benefit from, a la the Netflix plan I just cancelled because we never used it or the magazines that pile up without getting read… For whatever reason, wasting money just doesn’t irritate me enough to take action. Which is sad all around.

    But for the truly frugal, this does seem like a smart tactic!

    • Virginia, I agree on all of your points. It was the earning-money thing that interested me, because clearly losing money isn’t the world’s best motivator!

  2. A novel idea. I think I’d be scared to commit to that! But the concept is pretty good! I don’t have an iphone…so, I guess that is my out! lol But it stinks to pay for the gym when you barely go. Here’s to a new start this year!:)

    • Kate, evidently you can update it week to week if you know you have a tough week coming up. But still — it would be a leap of financial faith.

  3. I just started using it this week, but doubt I’ll get a lot of cash from it. I run outside several days, so I’ve left my phone in the locker so my trip counts. We’ll see.

    • Very smart! I have no iPhone and work out at home a few days a week, so this definitely doesn’t work for me.

      • For what it’s worth, I completed my first week testing it on Sunday. Choosing the 3 day goal, I “earned” a little over a dollar. I was actually there 5 days, but didn’t want to risk paying out so I didn’t get as much of the pie.

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