According to the IHRSA, The Global Health & Fitness Association, nearly 50% of adults are too intimidated to visit a gym on their own.
I created a digital product that inspires and empowers users to achieve their fitness goals and, build lasting connections, and ultimately lead to a stronger gym community.
Why am I Doing This?
Have you ever felt anxious going to the gym alone?
If so, you are not alone on this!
Stepping foot into the gym for the first time or by yourself can often be a daunting experience. However, I want to change that perspective by connecting people together at the gym to create a more inclusive and motivating experience for everyone.
Insights and Findings
Based on the research synthesized, I was able to validate some of my initial assumptions based on my own personal experiences and gain a better understanding of some of the potential pain points that people who go to the gym alone may experience.
One of the primary motives for attending the gym is finding community.
33% of total gym memberships are owned by millennials.
50% of adults are too intimidated to visit a gym on their own.
feel apprehensive about revealing their lack of gym experience in front of others.
feel anxious if others were in better physical shape than them.
feel embarrassed asking for help from others at the gym.
Finding our Users
I carried out four user interviews through video conferencing, with each interview lasting between 15 to 25 minutes. During the interviews, I took notes on both the participants' verbal and nonverbal behaviour.
As a result of the user interviews, I was able to confirm some of the findings from the earlier research.
Age —18-35 years old
Sex — Male/Female
Location — Greater Toronto Area
Gym Experience — Beginner
Technological Proficiency — iOS
Throughout her life, she has been managing hyperthyroidism, which has limited her level of physical activity below her desired level. Due to her health condition, she struggles in motivating herself to go to the gym in fear of not performing her best.
Accompanied by his partner, he began attending the gym in hopes of getting into shape. However, when his partner is away, he struggles to go on his own because he feels inferior to fellow gym-goers and alone without anyone to work out with.
Having experienced chronic migraines, she decides to go to the gym to determine if it could alleviate the issue. However, she feels uneasy about going to the gym alone and would only go if accompanied by her friends.
Although she used to go the gym alone, a recent unpleasant interaction with another gym-goer has turned her away from going entirely. Now, she only wants to go when accompanied by someone she knows.
What Did Our Users Say?
From the conversations I had with my users, I was able to identify the following key themes and overlapping pain points that ultimately led my design decisions moving forward.
Fear of judgment, comparing oneself to others, unfamiliarity with equipment and routines, or feeling out of place.
Bad Gym Vibes
Unfriendly or judgmental behaviour, excessive competitiveness, lack of respect for personal space, or a generally unwelcoming and discouraging ambiance.
Body Image Blues
Low self-esteem, comparing oneself to unrealistic ideals, and experiencing a constant sense of dissatisfaction.
How Might We
help connect young adults to the community at their home gym so that they feel comfortable and motivated achieving their fitness goals?
Meet Our User
With the insights collected from chatting with my target users, I developed an user persona that would accurately reflect the behavioural traits of my target audience. This enabled me to empathize with my users and demonstrate an user-centric approach.
Andrea Weston, 29
Andrea Weston has been wanting to return to the gym since its reopening following the pandemic. However, she has been experiencing difficulties mustering up the confidence to go alone. She aspires to connect with like-minded individuals at her gym, who could provide motivation for her to go more frequently.
Feeling isolated and judged by gym goers.
Lack of motivation to achieve fitness goals.
Unfamiliar with gym equipment and routines.
Foster a supportive community at the gym.
Meet others that will motivate her to workout.
Learn how to confidently use equipment alone.
Only uses cardio equipment due to ease of use.
Constantly on her phone to feel occupied.
Avoids crowded areas of the gym due to feelings of inferiority.
"I wish there was an easier way to make friends at the gym."
Primary User Task Flow
Next, I developed a primary user task flow that would help the user connect with a gym goer at their home gym.
This would involve the user defining a search criteria and then searching for their gym. Search results are based on the search criteria applied and gym searched. The user can read the user profile of the gym goer they are interested in connecting with and send them a friend request.
Secondary User Task Flow
Feedback from users was that the primary user task flow felt incomplete, which resulted in the development of a secondary user task flow.
This would involve chatting with a new gym connection to schedule a workout together. The user will go through the process of using the message feature to schedule a workout with their new gym connection.
Sketching on Paper
The initial step in the design process involved drafting basic sketches of the prototype screens, based on the primary user task flow. Next, I revised those sketches and created a series of solution sketches that would serve as the reference for my wireframes.
Now that we had our sketches completed, I developed a series of wireframes as the foundation for what would eventually become my final prototype.
For the purpose of this project, I created a minimal viable product (MVP) that would help validate any design assumptions during the early stages of product development.
With the initial wireframes created, I developed a usability testing plan for a group of gym goers at my local gym to determine the functionality and usability of the product.
Included in the usability testing plan is information on tasks to be performed, questions regarding the user's experience, evaluation metrics based on the user's ability to complete tasks, and general design methodology.
Design Prioritization Matrix
From the usability testing plan, I was able to gather recommendations and feedback from my target users regarding the functionality of the app.
Based on these insights, I placed them on a design prioritization matrix to determine which of them would require the least effort but produce the most value.
I thought to myself, if I had to assume the adjectives that users would associate the Pullup brand with, what would those be?
I wanted to began this process by brainstorming keywords that I would want my brand to identify with based on the insights from my user interviews.
Inspired by the keywords, I created a More A than B list to help establish distinctions between opposing adjectives.
More A then B List
More cool than warm
More dynamic than boring
More strong than weak
More happy than sad
More welcoming than unwelcoming
More proud than shame
More energizing than depressing
More motivating than demotivating
More encouraging than discouraging
More bright than dull
More monumental than insignificant
With the brand adjectives established, I began creating a moodboard based on those words with inspiration that I believed would help solidify my brand identity.
I decided to go with a monochromatic colour palette centred around the shade of blue, which shows a clear relationship to adjectives such as monumental, energizing, motivating, and dynamic.
Avenir was the typeface that I decided to use for Pullup, utilized in the development of the Pullup logo and throughout the app.
I decided to use a sans serif typeface, as it provides a minimalist design style, maintaining a clean and modern feel to the overall brand.
Keeping accessibility guidelines in mind, I conducted a series of typeface accessibility tests to ensure that the typeface is inclusive and upholds scannability.
I began with a typeface moodboard to identify the visual characteristics of the typeface I want to use for the Pullup logo.
Once I had an idea on how I wanted it to look, I began to alter the stylization of the letters and added additional elements that I believe would elevate the brand identify.
After several iteration sessions and feedback from peers, the final version of the Pullup logo was born!
The up arrows are angled at an upward trajectory, which emphasizes the idea of going up or motivation to progress forward. The curvature of the letters shows an ascent, peak and descent, which symbolizes the ups and downs of any fitness journey. The bolded lettering is to help create a dynamic appearance and feel.
As mentioned previously with the choice of typeface having to undergo accessibility tests, the colour palette is no different. Based on the primary colours used in the brand colour palette, I was able to achieve a passable WCAG rating of at least AA.
8.93 : 1
After undergoing several iterations and refinements, the brand identity was ultimately established, enabling me to arrive at the final version of the prototype for this project.
Introducing Pullup, a fitness social app that helps connect you with other gym goers at your gym.
Pullup for WatchOS
I realized towards the end of the product development cycle, that having users on their phones to use the Pullup app while at the gym would defeat its purpose of connecting people and ultimately interrupt their workout from excessive screen usage.
To address this issue, I opted to design the app for WatchOS, providing users with the convenience of accessing one of the key features of the app, which is messaging friends. Users can view recent messages and send responses using the speech-to-text feature or the built-in keyboard.
What Are My Next Steps?
Designing and prototyping secondary user task of chatting with new gym connection to schedule a workout.
Conduct further exploration on market potential through extensive research and usability testing.
Incorporating additional product features that would improve overall accessibility and customizability.
Reflections and Takeaways
Nothing is Perfect
I always feel the need to continually improve and reiterate my designs. However there comes a point when I need to solidify my design decisions in order to move forward with the project.
It was tempting to design the prototype as aesthetically pleasing as possible. However in reality, users just prefer a product that is functionable and easy-to-use.
Feedback is Important
It is important to gain continual feedback from peers and your target users, as they may have valuable insight that you may not be aware of during the design process.
Expected the Unexpected
Unforeseen challenges and surprises arose throughout the design process. I learned to keep an open mindset and to have a user-centric approach throughout.