465
10 min 2 sec

Exercise App Encourages Fitness While Helping Sick Kids

A North Carolina man’s software app forces users to make donations when they slack off their fitness routines.
App Fitness Health & Wellness Service Unique Ideas

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What It's About

Forget the expensive trainer—here's an app that will help you hold yourself accountable!

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Creativity & Resourcefulness
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

If you're looking to start a side hustle involving an app, Justin and his brother recommend that you try and build an initial version yourself so that you can prove the concept before investing more for a more polished version. As he says, there is a lot you can learn from the initial version that will enable you to make precise improvements on the polished version.​

Fun Fact

Asked if he’d thought about using a reverse incentive for Lazy Jar, where users have to pay some organization they disagree with if they don’t make their workouts, Justin said, “Yes, and we refused to do that. We felt that there was nothing to gain by donating money to organizations we generally don't believe in, even if it was as a form of negative reinforcement. We prefer knowing that even when the user fails, some good comes from it.”

Notes from Chris

Episode 465

Our resolutions to get fit sometimes fizzle. Those twice-weekly trips to the gym can slow to twice-monthly slogs. For some people, they turn into an occasional walk to the corner store for beer. In North Carolina, Justin Anyanwu saw that the shine of his successive new routines—yoga, kickboxing, CrossFit—started out well, but fell away when he couldn’t maintain his commitment to the workouts.

The initial weight loss he achieved didn’t inspire him enough to establish an unbreakable fitness habit. He knew that the problem wasn’t the workouts themselves, but his lack of consistency in committing to them regularly. Multiple canceled gym memberships frustrated him to act: he designed an app to hold himself—and later others—accountable.

Justin is a full-time software engineer, so he knows that technology can solve problems. His Lazy Jar app comes out swinging: Miss your weekly fitness goals and you’ll lose weight—in your wallet. Lazy Jar works by tracking a user’s steps, calories, miles, and minutes of physical activity via a Fitbit device. Users set a weekly goal for those metrics and a financial penalty they must pay if they fail to meet the goals.

He and his business-partner brother sped up the initial work on the look and feel of the app by using a pre-made app theme from UI8, a design platform. Then he found a developer on Fiverr to code the program, which cost him a bit more than five dollars: $7,000, to be precise.

Since the app was launched publicly in October of last year, the company has been making $500 a month from users who head back to the couch rather than the exercise bike. Their user base has been growing with further publicity, like the boost given from being mentioned on places like TechCrunch, LifeHacker and Product Hunt.

Learning about how the human psyche processes interest and desire has been one of the product’s side benefits for Justin. He’s seen how it takes a fair amount of social proof from other user’s experiences to bring new people into the Lazy Jar fold. New, unusual ideas get resistance, but influencers can sway a skeptical audience.

So, the big question: is Justin missing his workouts? Has the app worked for him, or has he programmed in a cheat code? We’re not certain how much Justin is paying back to Lazy Jar these days from missing his regular workouts, but according to him, he’s feeling stronger and healthier than ever.



MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Lazy Jar: Fire your trainer and hold yourself accountable—learn more about this app over on Justin's website!
  • Fiverr: The freelancing platform that Justin used to find the developer to make Lazy Jar a reality
  • UI8: The design platform that Justin found a pre-made app theme from
  • Ionic & React Native: Two of the app design platforms that Justin would likely use the next time he builds an app
  • TechCrunch, LifeHacker, & Product Hunt: Three of the tech-related media outlets that did write ups on Lazy Jar and brought it more exposure

SEE ALSO:


Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"See if you can build an initial version that you can use to prove the concept before investing more for a more polished version. There is a lot you can learn from the initial version that will enable you to make precise improvements on the polished version."
—Justin Anyanwu #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau