Motivating You To Get Fit

A behavioral-science driven app that motivates you to achieve your fitness goals




Daemon is a behavioral science-driven app that motivates you to achieve your fitness goals by holding you financially accountable. I was inspired to design it after making a deal with my housemate to pay him $100 for every day I failed to go to the gym over the course of a year. 

Regularly exercising has significantly changed my life for the better. At first it was really difficult to find the motivation to stick to a routine - I felt embarrassed that other people might see how out of shape I was, and it was hard to prioritize something I didn't enjoy doing. But over the course of that year, I only paid the price once, and 4 years later I've managed to keep up my exercise habits.


My Role


For this project, I conducted user research (both quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews), I wireframed user flows, designed the UI, and prototyped the flow and key interactions.


Micro-goal Setting


The key to my success was deciding to take a "lean habit-forming" approach. I determined the absolute minimum step required to accomplish my goal of getting fit was to simply step foot in the gym every day at the same time. If I turned around and went straight home, at least that would not interfere with my goal of developing habitual behavior. However, just being in the right place at the right time meant I would inevitably end up exercising. And as time progressed, I began setting more ambitious goals, while keeping the baseline measure of success simply maintaining the habit.


Translating This to App Design

In order to understand how my challenges with staying motivated to exercise compared with other people's experiences, I surveyed 30 participants, ages ranging from 21-44, distributed across the United States. The survey results helped me quantify and observe trends that informed how I thought about the UX for Daemon. 


Designing A Solution

Daemon is my way of sharing my experience with others. It's an app that allows you to create a contract to hold yourself financially accountable for establishing an exercise habit. It uses GPS and built-in step tracking from the iOS Health app to establish how frequently you're able to meet your goals.


Positive Vs. Negative Reinforcement

One key difference between my deal with my housemate and Daemon is how I've framed the financial accountability aspect. Instead of just using negative reinforcement (paying a penalty fee) for every failure, with Daemon the user sets aside a monthly deposit that they have the opportunity to earn back with every success. Any amount they are unable to earn back is donated to a charity of their choice. The reason for this change in framing is because I wanted users to associate a positive reward with the emotional and physical challenge of getting into shape, instead of fostering resentment toward the app.