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GymPact rewards you for working out — and charges you for missing

by Kathryn Swartz

If the cost of your gym membership alone isn’t enough to get you through the facility’s doors, the threat of more money out of your pocket — or the opportunity to earn a little green — might do the trick. At least that’s what the creators behind the new service GymPact hope. Available on iPhone and iPod Touch, GymPact makes you put your money where your mouth is when it comes to promising yourself you’ll hit the gym.

To sign up for GymPact, you’ll need to create an account and provide your credit-card information right off the bat. That’s a lot to ask before providing users even a taste of what the app will offer, but assuming you’re comfortable with the situation you’ll then make a pact with the service as to how many times you’ll be working out during the next week. I really like the idea of GymPact, but despite multiple tries I was unable to complete the signup process (which is a non-mobile optimized web page) to actually give the app a try.

If you can make it through signup, GymPact already has a database of gyms, but you can add your own facility, and the service will verify that the location is really a fitness facility and not a McDonald’s. This vetting process helps to keep users honest — however it also leaves those with home gyms or office facilities out in the cold. Potential users who like to run or bike outdoors are also out of luck. When you arrive at the gym, you’ll check into the system. GymPact will ping your location during the next 30 minutes to make sure you’re really at the gym (although the app won’t know if you’re sitting in the sauna or hitting the smoothie bar). A 30-minute stay is required to get credit for the workout. If you meet your weekly pact, you’ll be rewarded with cold, hard cash, courtesy of GymPact members who missed their sessions. And, if you miss one of your appointments, you’ll be penalized with a charge on your provided credit card of $5 to $50 — your choice.

It seems, though, that GymPact’s rigidity might also be a turn-off for users. Although you can change your pact weekly, you’ll need to take steps to freeze your account if you’re on vacation. And should you get hurt or sick? GymPact will need to see a doctor’s note to let you out of your financial obligation.