January 9, 2012
[00:49] What is Nexercise?
[01:50] Gamification Techniques and Reward Points
[06:32] Social Features of Nexercise
[08:31] Where to Download or Access the App
[09:39] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey folks! It's Ben Greenfield and I am here with Benjamin Young who is going to explain his exact role to us. But he basically has developed a pretty cool piece of technology that helps to motivate you to exercise. I discovered it a couple of weeks ago and got excited about it enough to want to actually get Benjamin on the podcast to talk about what it is that he's created. And I'm only calling him Benjamin just to differentiate between me, Ben, so you don't get our names mixed-up as we go through this interview. But, Benjamin, Mr. Young, thanks for coming on the call today.
Mr. Young: Hey, thank you, I appreciate it.
Ben: So what is it that you have here?
Mr. Young: Okay, so, we've developed a fitness app called Nexcercise. That's exercise with the ‘N” in front of it. It's iPhone-only right now but coming to the Android at the beginning of the year and what it does – well, the whole point of it is to make fitness fun and more engaging because what I found in my own personal journey through life that fitness is really a state of mindset whether you decide to exercise or not and unfortunately most of us make a decision not to. We get busy with our daily life. And we always put that by the wayside and so the point of this is to really change our mindset and engage users to be more active through use of gamification techniques.
Ben: That's a big word ‘Gamification'. Explain kinda what gamification is and how that actually applies to something like exercise.
Mr. Young: Okay, I'll explain that. So Gamification really is taking gaming techniques that we find common in games which make them more fun and engaging and applying them to real world concepts. And so with Nexercise what we do is every time you do any type of physical activity, what happens is you get rewarded with “gain points”. Potentially, you can earn virtual medals which are similar to four square badges that have a twist to them. And what it does is it gives you a sense of accomplishment at each and every workout that you think you're exercising and many of us have experienced that how at times you may just be tired afterwards but then when you get that immediate feedback, it kind of motivates you and keeps you engaged. And so that kind of feedback… that's quite important to making their experience. Tech-ie.
Ben: Gotcha! And so… give me an example of why, let's say I've got this app on my phone and I want to exercise. Kinda walk me through the process of where the phone's at when I'm exercising and what happens during my exercise session, and what happens after. Let's just use example of me going for a run.
Mr. Young: Okay, so very simply, what you do is you pull out the app. You open it up, and you hit Nexercise, which is just a nice big glowing blue button at the bottom, and then you select “running”. Once you do that, you just hit “start,” and then the app begins to measure the most level phone to kind of prove that you're exercising. That's kind of one of our proprietory technology, which is really, really cool. It kind of works similar to, like a Fitbit or any of these other wearable sensors. So you can use like an armband, you can run with the phone in your arm or in your pocket. And while you're running, it's recording it, you're listening to your music, you can push the app to the background, you go about your business. When you're done, you simply pull the app back out, and submit the activity. When you submit it, it goes up into the astral space, or the cloud, or whatever you like to think about it…our servers, and it analyzes all the information, and you'll get fed back, “game points”… “experience points.” And these are kind of important to kind of “level up” with the experience. You get that from levels in the game, allows you to feel like you're progressing, and then what you also have, which is very cool, is that, based on certain conditions, such as like if you exercise with a friend, or exercise on a rainy day, or a lot of other cool things, you'll get additional experience points, and these are all kind of mapped to specific behaviors to try get people to be more engaged.
Ben: Okay, cool. So give me examples, like, after I do the run, what can I “win” as an award, or once I've worked out for a certain period of time, what type of things can I get?
Mr. Young: Okay… well, we worked with a vendor partner called “Keith”, and they get a lot of big brands involved. And these brands are very interested in targeting us as consumers. People are trying to live healthier and get their products in front of us. And so, for example, a couple of…I think it was maybe… two months ago, people were winning Best Buy gift cards. One point it was Sephora cosmetics. Currently, I believe I just saw one of the users talking about it… It was $10 off of something… I apologize, but I cannot remember… uhm, but the products and service…
Ben: It wasn't, like, cigarettes or something, was it?
Mr. Young: No, that's the one important thing, it's never, never anything unhealthy, so it's from neutral, healthy things. You know, technology related to healthy stuff. And so, yeah, we're not gonna push a big fat sundae or “Five Guys” Burger to you. So, I know you may want it and think you deserve it…
Mr. Young: And so the way it works is that each and every time you exercise with your chance to win things. And so, based on the principle, the more you do it, it increases your chances. And so, we didn't want so make it where anything was guaranteed because we kind of wanted to be in a serendipitous discovery. And, another big word, but we just want you to have fun with the experience of the game, and win rewards along the way.
Ben: Okay, gotcha, cool. And, by the way, I don't know if you already mentioned this, but it's free, right? The app is free?
Mr. Young: Yeah, the app is free. We plan to keep it free, that's our goal. We're trying to reach as many people as possible. And one of the things that we're really trying to do is even make it more engaging. Right now, with your experience points, you can benchmark it yourself against your friends, you can give them social “nudges” which are kind of like Facebook “pokes”, but it comes across to their phone, it tells them to get to moving. I mean, in the future we're really looking at, and we've been testing some really kinda cool engagement games that allow you to do some more kind of “in-app” competitions or some things that just really take it to the next level, and I can't wait till we release some of those.
Ben: Cool. And, not to put you on the spot, 'cause I don't really know this, because I haven't really had any of my clients download the app yet, but how easy is it to… if you go out and do something kind of to share it with a trainer, or a coach, or somebody you're working with?
Mr. Young: It's actually very easy, because we track all the information and then it's stored. You can actually see a calendar, for example, you can see a calendar of all the activities you've done. You can show it to a doctor, show it to a trainer, essentially validate the exercise activity. They know you're not just, like, playing around and manually logging. We don't have that, you actually do the activity. The next release, well, we just submitted to Apple and hopefully it'll be out in another week or so, allows you to view the activities your friends are doing. So, right now, you can see their total experience and benchmark against them but then, our users are saying, “we wanna see exactly what our friends are doing so I know what routines they're doing.” And so that's a feature we added, which is really nice. So, if you have a trainer, and your friend isn't into exercise, they'll be able to see what you're doing when you're doing it. So you better do what you're supposed to do.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. Very cool. Awesome. So, iTunes store, that would be the best place for people to go check this out, or… I'll definitely put a link to it in the show notes. But the folks that are listening, can they just do search for Nexercise, or…
Mr. Young: Yeah they can just do a search for Nexercise on the iTunes store, it's exercise with an “N” in front of it. They can just go to www.nexercise.com too if they want to check out the website, and join the community. I mean, one of the most important things here that, you know, this is an evolving product. I mean, it is, we released on August 4, and we're constantly going to make it better and more engaging. So if you think of, like, a Zynga game or one of these, Cityville, they're always adding new improvements to it, so… what you see now is gonna just keep getting better, so we welcome your feedback.
Ben: Cool… cool. Alright, so it's Nexercise. Check it out in the iTunes store, I'll put a link to it in the show notes. I've got it downloaded on my phone, it's a pretty cool app. So, Benjamin, thanks for coming on the call and explaining this to us.
Mr. Young: Thank you.
Do you ever find your workouts to be stale, non-rewarding, boring, ho-hum, or anything else that is less than exciting?
I may have a solution for you…
…ever hear of “gamification”?
Basically, gamification involves giving game-like incentives to yourself (or someone else) to accomplish something – like using your phone to “check-in” to locations and get points when you shop there, getting a discount from a tax software company when you successfully complete your taxes, or maxing out the progress bar when you complete your profile on a social media platform (like LinkedIn).
Here’s 15 more examples of gamification for those of you who want to read up more on this technique.
And now, gamification has made it’s way into fitness. In this short audio interview, I talk to Benjamin Young, inventor of Nexercise – a fun, free fitness app for busy people – about how he’s made gamification a reality for exercise.
Benjamin originally conceived the idea of Nexercise from his personal frustrations of trying to maintain his weight and squeeze in workouts while simultaneously working, going to school, and raising two children.
In the interview, you’ll learn exactly how Nexercise works, but the basic idea is:
1) You download it.
2) You exercise (and make sure the app is on and you have your phone while you’re exercising).
3) You get medals, bonus points, and rewards for exercising.
The app is free. I’ve tried it a few times, and as long as you’re used to having your phone on you (or nearby) when you’re working out, it’s a great way to:
1) make your workouts more exciting and…
2) get free stuff.