Curls for Cash

I love working out. Fitness is a passion of mine. However for some people the chances of going to the gym as often as they would like is around zero. Gyms are packed to the walls every January with hopes of fitting into those high school jeans. They clear our by February and March. Everybody knows that they should be doing it. They know it’s good for you. They know the plethora of health benefits associated with it. They want to change how they look but they still don’t do what they know they should do. Hm. Let’s take a moment and brain storm to figure out some ways we could get them off their couch and into the gym. At home work out videos? Meh. Some cool new way of working out with a cool name like the Ab Blaster 9000? eh. What about something that get’s them moving without them putting in any effort? Hawaii Chair?!? How about instead of charging people once for a workout product, we charge them every time they miss a workout and spread the wealth with everyone that does make their workout? In comes

Curls for cash or curls for girls?

The basic concept is that users will commit their money for a week of workouts. If they miss their scheduled workout then they will lose the amount of money they committed for a workout. The commitment ranges from $10 to $50 per workout. When users miss workouts their money is collected and then spread among the users that did do their scheduled workout. Boom. Double incentive to hit your workouts and get off of your couch.

Workouts are tracked through their phones (currently only supported through iPhones though). The users location is tracked through their iPhone’s GPS and if they are located by a fitness facility then they are considered to be completing their workout.

iPhone screen

Hey Let’s Sail to Those Half Naked Women!

This concept of signing future binding contracts isn’t new however. In Greek mythology, our good friend Ulysses signed his own “gym-pact.” Ulysses had a problem. He wanted to listen to the Sirens (dangerous creatures disguised as seductresses). These sirens were bad girls though. They would lure ships in with their singing and inevitably lead sailors to their horrible death because the sirens were surrounded by water with jagged rocks beneath that sank ships.

I'm going to give you until the count of three to turn this boat around.

Solution? Ulysses had his men tie him to the ships mast and then had them put beeswax into their ears so that they couldn’t hear the Sirens seducing songs. Bam. Future contract that allowed him to commit to his desired future action. This was then coined the “Ulysses pact.”

A Ulysses pact or Ulysses contract is a freely made decision that is designed and intended to bind oneself in the future.

Same concept, different goals. We as humans are bad with the future, especially our future selves. For some reason we think our future self is way more productive and disciplined than our current selves. So what do we do? We put the responsibility of doing laundry, cleaning our rooms, starting our assignments and going to the gym on our future selves because they are way more suited to handling these responsibilities. The result? A list of our favorite phrases: someday, tomorrow, next week, I’m tired and I just ate so I should just go tomorrow, etc

I would probably cramp up at the gym since I just ate. I'll just sit and digest.

The Pain isn’t Enough

The pain of not going to the gym isn’t enough to actually get you to work out. There is no immediate pain when we choose to not do something like working out. It’s easy, we just pull out the tomorrow card and drop a couple justifications and off we go to watch re runs of our favorite criminal forensics television series while gorging our face with tasty goodies. We can fix this by bringing the pain in the form of cold hard cash out of your bank account. Yeah. You’re going to feel the pain now. It’s either going to be in the form of your muscles working out or your wallet working out.

Want to watch me for the fifth time instead of busting your ass? It's going to cost you more than that pint of Ben and Jerry's


  • Binding our future selves to our intended actions? Check.
  • Making it hurt when we don’t workout? Check.
  • Incentives? Check.


  • Possibly able to game the system?
I’ve thought about how users could possibly game the system by going to a place near the gym and checking in. The average gain stated on the website is $4.50 each week. Hardly enough for someone to take the time and game the system. People do however do crazy things for money. These people however are not the kinds of people that this game is looking for though. I’m not sure as to how this flaw could be fixed however (require you to take a picture of you showing off the gun show at the gym?)


This app provides negative and positive incentives that will most definitely help users reach their workout goals because it’s always going to take some will power on our behalf to do something (that is unless robots exercise our bodies for us without us needing to do anything). I think it will definitely help the right users reach their workout goals. One suggestion however. If there was someway of making the user physically hand over the money they lose then this game would be much more effective. Studies have shown that paying for something with cash hurts way more than swiping the shiny plastic (what hurts more? handing over $60 for that pair of pants you didn’t need or swiping the ole plastic?).  So maybe instead of withdrawing money online, they make you hand over cold hard cash for your missed workouts. Bring the pain!!!

Yeah. I build these puppies with Gym Pact!

It’s a good thing I brought my daughter to Digital Ops…

Check this out: “girls ages 11 to 16 years old who played videogames with a parent behaved better, felt more connected to their families and had better mental health than girls who played with friends or on their own.” Read all about it in the Wall Street Journal, who is citing a a study by researchers at BYU that just appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Now I’ve got that smug “good parent” feeling. The family that kills zombies together…