Invesdor alumnus Fitness Village held a press conference on August 15th announcing the launch of the Fitness Village concept. The concept, which links the digital world with the physical fitness world by means of a digital currency, is best brought to life by the first gym utilizing the concept, the Fitness Village Training Center. Invesdor's marketing manager and fitness enthusiast Mikko visited the opening ceremonies in Helsinki.
Gaming and physical exercise are often seen as polar opposites. The Fitness Village concept combats this point of view and encourages people to move by combining four key elements: the Fitness Village mobile game, activity tracking sensors, the Fitness Village Training Center gym in Helsinki's Kaisaniemi, and supporting services. The mobile game was launched and the gym opened simultaneously this August, following a successful €187,000 funding on Invesdor in May.
The vehicle linking the physical and digital worlds in the Fitness Village concept is a digital currency. The user is rewarded with currency for both in-game activities as well as real-life exercising. For example, pieces of training equipment at the Fitness Village Training Center have QR codes printed on their sides. Scanning these QR codes with an app lets you sync your workout activity with the Fitness Village game. The game then transfers the activity data into currency rewards which can be used for real-world purchases at the Training Center and in participating businesses. In addition to workouts at the gym, data from various heartrate monitors and activity trackers can also be linked with the game, yielding more currency rewards.
It comes down to the economics
In the end, the value of a currency comes down to what one can buy with it. Fitness Village therefore will need to crystallize its value proposition to potential partners and negotiate a strong partner network that can provide the incentives. In the press conference, Fitness Village CEO Jouni Herranen announced that one of the company's new partners will be the sandwich chain Subway. The concept certainly has potential if the products and services purchasable with the Fitness Village currency can be made enticing enough for the large audience of casual exercisers, and Subway is a great partner to start with.
As far as the gym is concerned, it is easy to see the appeal of a gamified element for the casual exerciser, as it provides them with incentives to keep the training going even when they're not hooked on witnessing their physical progress quite yet. However, the Fitness Village Training Center wants to cater to both the casual and the hardcore audience, which every gym-goer knows is difficult to do in one gym. Time will tell if both target groups will be happy with the presence of the other, and if the game and its incentives will function as a scalable customer acquisition channel for gyms. In the mean time, I know I will be eager to give my first gamified gym sessions a go in Kaisaniemi.
The Fitness Village game can be downloaded at Google Play and the shiny Fitness Village Training Center gym visited at the University of Helsinki metro station in Kaisaniemenkatu 7, Helsinki, Finland.