Sometimes it’s just plain hard to motivate yourself to get to the gym. There are so many reasons to stay away: sleep, work, friends, weather, traffic … did we mention sleep? And the incentive for working out is long-term, while the reasons for avoiding the treadmill are very tangible.
But what if missing a workout hit you where it really hurts – in the wallet?

Gym-Pact is similar to a site like Groupon in that it offers customers (currently in the Boston area only) deals and discounts on yoga studios and fitness centers. That’s nothing new. But if the customer misses a workout, he or she pays a fine (referred to as a “motivational fee”). The system uses a text-message-based password system, so that the customer has to check in via text in order to get credit for going.

When signing up, you make a commitment to attend one of Gym-Pact’s fitness centers for a certain number of days per week (with a minimum of one day a week). You agree on a weekly schedule, and if you miss a session…you pay $10. Ouch. So basically, one of two things can happen: 1) You can fulfill your commitment, take pleasure in the discounted membership, and bask in the glory of attaining your fitness goals; or 2) You’re pretty much made to feel like a complete and utter slacker. And a slacker with a lighter wallet, at that.

If you think Gym-Pact is draconian and mean-spirited, just look across the pond to the system it’s modeled after. A gym chain in Denmark offers free membership, so long as you show up at least once a week. Fail to show and you are charged full price for that month. Yikes.

But is financial motivation an effective-enough way to get people off the couch and into the gym? Sure seems like it. Because if there’s one thing that’s more unattractive than a soft body, it’s an empty bank account.

-- Follow Erica Orange on Twitter at @ErOrange

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