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Idea: A Gym Membership that Charges You for Not Exercising

Right now, it's very easy to give up on going to the gym. But what if you were penalized for every workout you skipped? That's Gym-Pact.

Every year one of America's top New Year's resolutions is to join a gym and get in shape. And every year America just gets fatter. So what if our workout facilities started hitting us where it really counts; not in our guts, but in our pocketbooks?

That's the main idea behind Gym-Pact, a new company in Boston that partners with local vendors to offer discounts to consumers in exchange for weekly workout commitments. If you fulfill your commitment and attend the gym as promised, you get to skate along at reduced rates. But, if you choose to loaf and skip your agreed upon workouts, you're penalized at least $10 per day.

Gym-Pact is the bright idea of two 2010 Harvard grads, Yifan Zhang and Geoff Oberhofer, who were inspired by a lesson from their behavioral economics class: "[P]eople are more motivated by immediate consequences than by future possibilities." According to Zhang and Oberhofer, because many gym fees are paid for up front, people tend to give up on working out fairly easily, as they consider the cost sunk regardless of whether they go. But by instituting an immediate daily cost, the motivation behind the penalty drastically increases.

Gym-Pact is in its first month, but it's already partnered with three Planet Fitness locations around Boston. And because, as Oberhofer says, they "don't want to profit off of people's failures," Gym-Pact has said it will only reap profits from referral fees and revenue-sharing programs with affiliate gyms.

photo (cc) by Flickr user Phil Roeder

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