The new year is just a few days away, which means New Year’s resolutions are just about to kick in. A lot of people (myself included) have committed to getting in shape, but for many (again myself included) that resolution doesn’t get much further than signing up for a gym membership and a few perfunctory workouts before those grand fitness plans fall to the wayside.
A Chicago-based startup called MiGym, however, wants to weave a tighter-knit relationship between the gym and its customers, benefiting active exercisers and the less motivated alike. It’s developed a smartphone app platform used by health clubs across the country. The app doesn’t just create a smartphone presence for a gym, it seeks to engage its members more actively. It uses social networking to connect members with similar sporting interests and exercise regimes, and it allows them to view, book and manage classes.
George Monical, who heads up the MiGym division of Chicago app development shop Solstice Mobile, said he has even bigger ambitions for the app. Soon MiGym’s dozens of national and regional health club chains will be able to start tracking workout data. MiGym is tapping into APIs offered by gym equipment makers like Life Fitness and exploring ways of quantifying the health benefits of more traditional workouts from aerobics classes to free weights — tying them all into a single unified workout tracking tool.
It’s a neat idea, but not one that’s very useful if all of that info is trapped inside your gym app — it would become just one more disparate repository of health information. But Monical said MiGym believes strongly in the concept of the quantified self (subscription required), and it aims to incorporate its apps into the overall fitness data ecosystem, Monical said. In addition to working with Life Fitness, its tapping into the APIs of Fitbit (see disclosure) and Runkeeper as well as any source of open health data it can get its hands on.
The idea is that MiGym will accept information for its own app and share it with other apps, Monical said. So if you take a three-mile run in the park tracked by an external app or device, those steps run and calories will be included in MiGym’s meters. Conversely, any data taken from the gym, whether it’s scooped directly out of an elliptical trainer or approximated from a kickboxing class, could be funneled into any outside fitness portal, Monical said.
Eventually, MiGym wants to explore direct partnerships with the healthcare industry, transmitting information to your doctor or — with permission — to your insurer. If State Farm and Allstate can track use machine-to-machine technology to track your real driving behavior and consequently reward safe drivers with lower premiums, Monical asked, why can’t health insurers do the same thing, granting lower rates to people who keep in shape?
Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Kzenon