We Are Using This App to ‘Step Up’ Our Fitness Game; You Should Too

If you had come up to me or anyone from Beebom a few months ago and told us that we’d actually start taking fitness seriously, we’d have laughed it off. But now, things are different and a lot has changed, all thanks to a small leap of faith that the team took.

What started as a hit-and-miss initiative has now become something a lot bigger than we could have ever comprehended. All we did was integrate walking into our daily routine, and it did something to us, for the best. So, allow me to take you on a journey. The journey of a team of 30-odd people that finally put the transformative potential of walking to the test, and why you should too. Of course, I share how it all started and how we did it.

Why Did We Start This?

Most desk jobs require sitting and typing away on laptops all day. I mean, if overhydration can cause water toxicity, sitting too much can’t be good for you either, right? Besides, this sedentary lifestyle is not restricted to our offices, is it? It extends to our home as well. For, there is a high chance that you choose to stay in and binge-watch something rather than hit the treadmill or go out for a walk. 

If you take a look at this Yale Medicine piece, you will realize the gravity of this problem. Bottomline is, walking and staying active helps. With that idea, we decided to do a step count challenge of sorts with the Beebom team. But, how many steps a day should you walk in the first place? Basic research revealed that 10,000 steps is a good number.

There’s always been an anxious strain of antagonism between wanting to do something and ending up doing it. Sometimes, a push is all you need. That’s exactly why the Beebom team pounced at the chance of going through this together. Competition brings that out in you, especially when it is quite literally as “healthy” as this one. With that, we decided to call a meeting.

I distinctly remember our co-founder Devinder Maheshwari saying something at this very meeting along the lines of, “It is sad that being a young organization with an under-30 average, so many of us are experiencing chronic back, knee, neck, and whatnot pain in parts of the body we didn’t even know existed. We have to do something about it, and we have to do it right now.” He further said, “I know that stepping into a fitness journey can be daunting when done alone. So, let’s join hands and work as a team to become the best version of ourselves.” This was when I gave quite possibly what was the biggest nod of my life.

This is also something that Devinder addressed (at the 2:58:35 mark) in the Tech Roundtable 2023 conference held by TrakinTech. This was a super insightful video and if you haven’t watched it, you should get on it right away.

And our co-founder is not the only one highlighting this. It’s a bigger problem than you might think. Recently, even Indian YouTuber GeekyRanjit opened up about how he recovered from what was one of the lowest points of his life in terms of health. Running and jogging “transformed” his life. You can take a look at Ranjit’s video below to know about it all:

Not too long ago, British tech YouTuber MrWhosetheboss took up the challenge of going through a transformation, and that genuinely inspired me as well. If you take a look at the video, you will see how making subtle lifestyle changes alongside walking the right amount of steps each day without fail can change your life, for the better. Here’s his video for your reference:

The good thing is that most of us at Beebom were in on the idea of a step challenge, and now, it was time to get to work and select an app to help us make this a reality.

Choosing the Right App to Walk Together

See, our requirements for the app were simple. We were on the lookout for an app that:

  • Is free; since this was purely an experiment at the time and wouldn’t bind us to it in case things didn’t go the way we planned
  • Is easy to understand and won’t take much time to get used to
  • Has group step challenge features and a proper leaderboard to make the competition easier to analyze and motivate others to climb the ladder
  • Has room for roughly 35 or so members to join in
  • Is available on both Android and iOS

Keeping all these parameters in mind, the hunt began, and first, it brought us to Count It (visit). We came across this app in the Slack directory and although it had a lot of features as well as a free tier, it was not ideal for a group of over 15 members. This is because the “free” basic plan restricts you to only 15 ranked members on the Count It leaderboard.

count it step tracking app screenshots from play store

But, if you are a larger organization of, say 100+ members, and you are willing to pay, Count It is a great choice. Not only does it have a significantly better UI than the app we chose and an interesting way to gamify the step challenge, but it can also be easily integrated within Slack as a channel.

With that being said, Count It wasn’t the right fit for us, so we jumped to the next app, and then to the next and the next. Something or the other was going wrong when testing all these apps, and so when we stumbled upon this app called Step Up (Android and iOS), honestly, we did not have a lot of expectations going in. By now, the almost two-week-long hunt was getting a bit exhausting. But, little did we know we had struck gold.

It’s just that Step Up ticked all the boxes for us as freeware. That would automatically allow us to experiment with it for as long as we wanted to without being bound to a monthly or feature-based subscription fee. Moreover, as a company of just 30+ employees, it made more sense to us.

step up - ios app store screenshot

However, we didn’t finalize Step Up right away just because it was free. We had to put it to the test before making the challenge official and determine if it was even possible in the first place. So, after assembling a team of 8 from the office, of which I was one, we decided to test Step Up out. Thus, the experiment began.

Our plan of action was to simply notice if the app counts our steps correctly, syncs successfully with our fitness bands via Google Fit, and runs into any major issues (crashes, freezes, etc.). Apart from being occasionally logged out of the app automatically (still to this date) to the leaderboard loading a bit slowly and requiring us to restart the app, there were no issues at all.

I mean, being a freeware, it did everything that it said it would and was just a balanced app overall. And honestly, that’s all we were asking for. So, our band of testers really liked how the app worked, and the Step Up challenge (as we named it) finally seemed, well, possible.

Step Up Challenge Kicks Off at Beebom

If you ask me to climb a tree, I won’t, because I can’t. However, if you “challenge” me to climb said tree with the promise of a reward, I will give it a try. Extrinsic motivation works wonders, and we used it with the Step Up initiative as well.

The idea was to ensure participation from everyone at Beebom and have them at least try to walk a few thousand steps daily. We took baby steps and set a minimum goal of 5,000 steps a day in our first month of using the app. Also, it was decided that those who emerged as the top walkers at the end of this monthly challenge would be rewarded.

December 2023 marked the beginning of this challenge at Beebom and we created a group on Step Up and sent over the invite link to everyone. Setting up the app was easy, and once done, we were instantly on the Step Up leaderboard. That’s when it started to get interesting.

We got competitive instantly, thanks to the real-time monthly, daily, and weekly data that Step Up provided about who was walking more steps. Not just that, we could also see everyone’s data from the day before as well as easily compare data like like average steps, best day, best week, and even the longest win streak with other members.

How stats look on the Step Up app

Now, we quickly learned that a lot of us were absolute couch potatoes. So, it was overwhelming at first to see a couple of other people on the team go over 10,000 steps daily. Then, there were us, the league of Couch Potatoes, who finally decided to beat the active version of themselves that Step Up provided an insight into.

Not to mention that we ended up taunting each other a lot in the process. I can’t possibly count the number of times I have taunted my co-workers. I think they hate me now.

Step Up Active Bot and Taunt mechanic showcase

After a lot of walking and taunting each other, we finally completed a month of using Step Up in January 2024. Step Up allows group admins to export all the data in .csv format and that made things a lot easier for us.

Now that we had this data in our hands, it was time to declare the winners and reward them as promised. Since this is a fitness initiative, it only made sense to shower the top three performers with gifts that adhere to the theme. So, we didn’t give them any. You walked and got fit, and that’s your reward.

Alright, I’m just kidding. Gifts were given out and to make the process a bit more interesting, we added the three gifts to a spinning wheel. These gifts included a yoga mat, a 3-month subscription to HealthifyMe, and a Puma t-shirt. Ultimately, it’s not about the gift but that sense of being rewarded for doing something right.

With that, we declared the Step Up Challenge a success, and kickstarted month two of this initiative. To make things a lot more interesting, we also bumped up the rewards to 5 for the top 5 performers this time. Not only that, we bumped up the minimum step count to 7,000 steps as well. Now that we know this challenge is working for us, we have decided to keep it going, and we plan on pushing it to 10,000 steps a day in April 2024.

Why You Should Take Up This Challenge Too

Fitness can be overwhelming when you don’t know where to start. We did not either and that’s when walking came to mind. I mean, walking is the easiest and most accessible form of workout and the best way to start your fitness journey. Brisk walking is great, but even walking at your normal pace can burn those calories. You can refer to this research to get a better idea of the numbers.

Our editor, Anmol, started his fitness journey around a year ago and lost over 15 kgs. When I asked him how he achieved this, he said, “I just walked my shoes off. Did not hit the gym or do any fancy cardio. Just walked at a steady pace and threw brisk walking in the mix every now and then. Not to mention that I started eating a lot healthier, avoided junk food, and kept my calories in check. I feel a strict calorie-deficit regime, at least for the initial 1 year helped me big time.”

Then, we had our gaming sub-editor Upanishad who lost over 10 kgs in just six months. Upanishad is the kind of man who resists the temptation of junk food like no other. Before you ask, yes, I tried airplaning food to him, and it didn’t work. Jokes aside, when you have co-workers like this, you are automatically motivated. Moreover, it brings the team closer together. Healthy competition indeed works wonders and makes things a lot more fun.

I exported the data for recent months and decided to share some findings with you here. The first thing we noticed was that a lot of our team members actually stepped up their walking game, came out of their couched potato phase, and took the challenge seriously.

For example, Arti started with 4,899 daily average steps during the first month of the challenge. She took that up to 5,580 steps in the second month. Then, Anmol took his average of 3,539 steps in the first month to 5,826 steps in the second. Meanwhile, our video editor Manmeet went from 5,944 to 8,240 steps, which is a huge leap. Our star walkers such as Upanishad, Ishaan, Keshav, and Ramjie have been holding the top four positions consistently.

These four automatically became an inspiration for other members to push harder and walk more steps. Personally, I have been averaging a little over 8,000 steps daily for both months. Now, I am targeting at least 10,000 steps daily to keep up and improve my health. Not just leisurely walk, but maintaining that steady pace to see results.

We have been planning on getting a digital weighing scale in the office as well, which will allow us to track our progress better. Gradually, we plan to increase the intensity of this challenge, but for now, things are looking good.

Most of us are smart enough to know what we were doing was wrong but were too lazy to rectify it. The “yeah, nothing is going to happen” mentality is too real till it happens to you. Understanding that there is a problem is the first step to fixing it. That’s what allowed all of us at Beebom to start rectifying this very problem.

With that being said, we hope that more organizations start taking such baby steps towards fitness because it is indeed the need of the hour in today’s sedentary lifestyle. We have been doing it wrong for way too long now. So, here’s to never letting fitness take a back seat and work do all the driving. Cheers!

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