For the past few weeks, I’ve been watching a product grow from something that is mildly interesting into something that is well worth using. The product is Cody, a fitness-focused social network that acts like a mix of Foursquare and Twitter. And as an unintended side effect, it will also potentially cut down on the fitness-related noise that shows up on Twitter.
The product is simple enough, with people sharing workouts. Went for a 30 minute run? Punch it into Cody, and it shares it with the network. The product also employs a simple follow-follower model, where people can not only follow friends’ fitness routines, but also follow people with similar interests.
According to cofounder Pejman Pour-Moezzi, the overarching goal of the site is “to motivate people to accomplish fitness goals.” This is done in part by reminding users to check in with Cody, and in part by applying social pressure to keep people involved. Currently, the network is small. But at the same time, it’s very active. According to Pour-Moezzi, over 25 percent of users check in every single day.
But does a simple check-in service really solve a critical problem? Or even a problem at all? The answer seems to be yes, and in fact, it is taking on more than one problem.
There are a few key problems with the current state of fitness applications.
The first is that they are very crowded. Applications like Fitocracy are great, but when it comes down to it, how many people really care about getting a badge for running x number of miles? What people do want to be able to do, though, is to share how much they’ve exercised with their friends, who can then offer a virtual cheer or a message of encouragement.
The second problem is that not everyone cares about fitness routines and workouts. This means that while automatically posting a workout to Facebook or Twitter is a nice feature, there’s a chance that the people who will really care — other fitness buffs — won’t actually see the update amidst the swarm of non-fitness related posts.
Because of these two issues, it makes sense to have a standalone network. Yes, the network can be authenticated by a third-party service, like Cody is with Facebook. But at the same time, the noise of fitness updates is cut down by only posting exclusively for other fitness buffs.
While this initial value gives users a reason to try the product out, the real stickiness comes from the personal coach — Cody. Cody, the product’s namesake, helps motivate users to work out even more. Whether it’s through text messages, emails, or by getting other Cody users to motivate you, the premise is the same: get users to get out and be active.
The idea of motivating people to get active via social pressure is one that is particularly valuable in the long run. According to one person I spoke to, who works for a major technology company that you’ve definitely heard of and wished not to be identified, this type of social pressure fitness product is currently in the works, because it provides real value to people. More often than not: measured in weight loss.
The product isn’t done yet, but the ex-Microsoft team is hard at work pushing to make it better. According to Pour-Moezzi, the company is working to finish an iOS application, as well as to tie into additional APIs and devices to help make the product more frictionless.