The fitness industry has long used gamification methods to motivate health and wellness. From FitBits to workout-tracking apps, data gamification has given fitness brands new insights into customer behavior while motivating gym goers to stay on target with their goals.
“Anything that gets people moving is a good thing,” says Robin Arzón, vice president of fitness programming and head instructor at Peloton. “I've gone through seasons of gamification in my life, even though I certainly wouldn't call myself a gamer.”
Arzón has been exploring how Web3 can embolden fitness communities more effectively than centralized membership platforms. She recently founded Swagger Society, a Web3 lifestyle membership club that is expected to be launch in the coming months. Though she says she prefers “throwing barbells” over her head and running sprints more than working out through augmented reality (AR) games and virtual reality (VR) headsets, she’s open to the ways that Web3 technology might improve our overall health.
“Who knows what the future holds?” says Arzón. “I'm not going to knock somebody's path to wellness. If [games] work for them, and they're able to do it consistently — go for it.”
The move-to-earn economy
Behavior change is a major component in most fitness clubs today. Gym memberships often come with proprietary data-tracking apps that sync with members’ devices and document progress over time. In some ways, the fitness industry’s culture is similar to that of Web3, which places a major focus on incentivizing participation. Many decentralized protocols (DeFi) protocols and Web3 communities function smoothly due to a shared allegiance to economic incentives. Examples include non-fungible token (NFT) airdrops for loyal fans, crypto rewards for staking a particular coin or distributing proof-of-attendance protocols (POAP) for showing up to an event. Even the existence of crypto is made possible through mining rewards, which pay miners for using their computer power to verify transactions.
Interesting possibilities emerge when we combine the economic approach of Web3 with the fitness industry. Last year, a new fitness-oriented category of blockchain gaming called move-to-earn (M2E) games tested the theory that rewarding consumers with crypto tokens would motivate them to exercise. The popular Solana-based M2E game StepN reported $122.5 million in profits in the second quarter of 2022, and its ecosystem token GMT has a total market cap of over $231 million. Moreover, StepN says its users ran more than 104 billion miles in the process of earning their crypto last year, a nod to the potential efficacy of M2E gaming. But is such progress sustainable?
Arzón believes that gamification can certainly motivate behavior, but beyond any new gimmicks and gadgets, it’s good old-fashioned consistency that unlocks the true benefits of fitness as a lifestyle. For this level of transformation, a person needs more than a game or a token, they need an accountability partner, says Arzón.
“Finding like-minded, values-driven folks who are willing to put those values into action is what gives [a new behavior] ‘stickiness,’” said Arzón. “That's certainly what Swagger Society will be based on, community as the linchpin of everything that we do.”
She believes that, beyond the short-term incentivization of M2E gaming, NFT membership models may provide the perfect level of “stickiness” because members become more than simply monthly subscribers. Purchasing an NFT acts as a lifetime, all-access pass, granting holders entry to a community led by their favorite instructors without third-party intermediaries and centralized platforms.
“It's exciting for me to be able to reward my day-one followers and my new followers in unprecedented ways, as well as have them invest in this new creative economy in a way that's never been possible before,” said Arzón.
She hopes Swagger Society will give her more direct communication with her followers and create a “feedback loop” allowing her to go deeper with members’ needs.
“I want to engage in a way that I've never been able to do before this technology,” she said. “I’m interested in being a fire starter in people's lives through the mechanisms with which I can do that the most dynamically, robustly and directly.”
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