Economic Exercise

by Zoe Pollock

Susan Johnston reports on a new model for keeping up your regimen:

Gym-Pact offers what [co-creator Yifan] Zhang calls motivational fees customers agree to pay more if they miss their scheduled workouts, literally buying into a financial penalty if they don’t stick to their fitness plans. The concept arose from Zhang’s behavioral economics class at Harvard, where professor Sendhil Mullainathan taught that people are more motivated by immediate consequences than by future possibilities.

Zhang and Oberhofer translated that principle to workout motivation. If missing a workout cost people money, they’d be more motivated to stick with it, they thought.