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FitFu (YC W11): Stay active anywhere (fitfu.com)
118 points by JofArnold on Dec 17, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 82 comments


I really want you to sell me this product because this solves (I think?) a problem I often face. The product page (and the blog) makes a big thing about the social aspect and so on. Which is fine; but I still have no idea what exactly it does.

It tracks my movement. When? How?

What exactly does it do?

Clearly your are hip and cool, which is great. But I've clicked every link and I am still none the wiser as to the product... sorry.

EDIT: Right, I noted the TC link (http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/17/fitfu-wants-to-get-you-exer...) posted elsewhere. That was much more explanatory, now I understand a lot more. In fact (and, man, I never thought I would say this!) the TechCrunch copy is pretty solid explanatory text, you should take careful note of it and consider at least a page that says something similar about what the product is.

Absolutely agree with ErrantX. As it is a fitness app, I went looking to find out what exercises they would be encouraging me to do - nada.

The best I could work out from the screenshots was crunches. And from the TC article it mentions 8 exercises and hints that PushupFu, CrunchFu, SquatFu and PullupFu are combined into Fitfu ... but I still am no clearer as to what exercises are supported.

And for me, knowing what exercises it supports is important. If FitFu is supposed to encourage me to 'move more' throughout the day, well crunches aren't much use at work - I'm not lying down on the grubby work carpet in my shirt and slacks and do crunches. If it's pull-ups, well I can't do those at work either.

Sounds great for weekends/days off though (and I love the concept overall) - but again, would love to know what movements you are encouraging.

I also had no idea what it basically did, but, as I often do, I bought it from a developer and designer standpoint to learn what they had done.

To be honest, I still find it a bit weird after purchasing it. The sound in the app is particularly annoying.

I can't wrap my head around it, but the fact that they've received funding from YC suggests that there's more to it.

Actually; I really liked it.

Yes, there are parts that could improve. And, yes, I don't think it is marketed right.

But there is a wealth of opportunity and information in the app and the social aspect has potential. I'm not a big iPhone app user but I could actually see myself using this given the right motivation :)

Could you clarify what sounds you find annoying. There's only two: 1/ The music - which you can turn off from the home screen 2/ The counting... which we can improve of course, but having it count is pretty useful :)

When I started up the app the first time, there was a prompt with the mascot saying something. It was very loud, but fortunately, I wasn't wearing my headphones at the time.

I think there was one later on, when I chose to start an exercise, but it wasn't as loud, so I guess that one's fine.

I feel with sound in apps like I do on websites: it shouldn't start automatically when you visit something for the first time. There should be a clear contract about when you'll hear music.

Totally understand where you are coming from - thanks for elaborating.




For those of your who've got it and get how it works, is there a simpler way of explaining the features that matter most to you?

We thought "personal trainer in your pocket that gets you doing little bits of activity throughout the day" was an ok start, but I think we were wrong; people (at least on HN) are really interested in getting to the specifics.


To the end of clarifying your message - Given that people don't do, little bits of exercise throughout the day, I need some examples of exercises that I could do at my desk, or in the office kitchen or on an escalator. I simply couldn't visualise what I'd be doing, have you thought of some clever exercises I could do where I would normally feel a bit awkward about doing them? (I know a trainer that has a bunch of these). Perhaps we're just talking about exercises that people are already familiar with, lunges, squats etc. ? If that is the case then I don't think an iphone app is going to change their behaviour in which case I would be focussing on how your app is useful at the times of the day when people usually exercise.

Those are very helpful observations - thanks!

I was thinking about this as I was going to sleep last night, and it dawned on me that what we could do is maybe have simple two-frame animations of people doing the exercises (perhaps in various locations) with the app counting in the graphics somehow.

The pelvic thrusting exercise is definitely one that people feel awkward doing in public. Hadn't thought about that angle before - one of the reasons users cited they liked CrunchFu was that they feel awkward/self-concious in gyms. That's a really good angel.

It's surprisingly effective at behaviour change, but having these other angles could be a much better hook.

/me adds to todo list

Definitely; the TC post does a really good job of explaining it.

We included our post here more as a way of introducing ourselves to HN. I'll link to the TC post from the top of ours. Thx! :)

I do mean this generally about your whole site though.

The main reason I make this point, and I want to make it stronger, is that I have to pay to try your app. There is nothing wrong with that, usually I'm pretty accepting of vague product descriptions because I can try it for free (or for a short time) and then pay if it is useful.

But right now I have to pay just to find out exactly what this is...

I actually bought it because the TC post interested me enough to see this as a possible solution to the problem I face. And, of course, I never really begrudge a small cost to give something I understand a shot. But if I had come to your site without the TC explanation I would be to confused to consider paying.

I strongly recommend a plain english explanation of the app somewhere. It really won't hurt you in this case I think :)

(I have more detailed comments & advice that I would be happy to give, drop me a line [email in profile] if you are interested)

Yeah, that makes sense. Have emailed you also!

Replied. I might be barking up the wrong tree, but it never hurts to at least pass it on :)

Looks awesome guys, congrats! One small bit of feedback: I had a really, really hard time parsing this sentence:

> Activate some you time, fit in some fu time

By the time I got to the comma, my brain was totally halted.

no, i don't think it's a garden path sentence, because prior to the comma, it's just gibberish. a garden path sentence leads you down one path of meaning before turning the tables on you. it's quite possible that i'm being pedantic or just wrong, but i think the op's point stands: it's badly written copy and needs to be changed. it can't be justified as a poetic device.

Apostrophes around 'you' and 'fu' would do alot for clarity

Or bolding "you" and "fu."

Dashes are the cleanest and most portable solution to this problem.

Activate some you-time, fit in some fu-time.

Agreed - I like that. Thanks. That also solve the problem of not being able to use italic to highlight the "fu" in plain-text cases.

Activate some you time for great good!

"Ever get the feeling there's more to life than sitting around: sitting at work, sitting in the car, sitting in front of the TV? Do you want to get active but haven't time for the gym?"

Stop watching so much TV.

Or get a desk you can change the height of so you can stand up when you're near it.

This app does not save you time - quite the contrary. It's a motivational, social tool - not a productivity tool. The marketing is off.

Standing up is insufficient. Translocation of the trunk is what you need.

Of course if you do squats with your Macbook then it's alright.

But yeah, we need to hone the marketing. Any particular areas that are fixable with copy changes or are the required changes bigger than that?

The aspect of "time" relates to productivity. I consider this a motivational tool using game-ification and social media. The reason I love interval training for running and getting into shape is that it gives me a tangible sense of progression. When I am able, I can move on to the next tier of my running program, which is tougher than the former. "Accessible", "Tangible progress", "Mobility", "Social", "Motivitational".

I wouldn't equate doing the FitFu exercises with working out in the gym. Sure, if you do the same exercises there, but I assume that working out in the gym is more intense. The exercises don't strike me as cardio- nor weight/strength-heavy.

You could promote it as a Wii Fit for iOS or a mobile version at that. Break down what makes Wii Fit entertaining and popular (to those who do) and try to apply it to your product.

The main use-case is to ease people into regular exercise, but even though I'm a fairly serious gym-goer myself I find that doing a few reps here and there throughout the day is really helpful to keep my mind refreshed.

What happens in practice (if the testers are anything to go by) is that they start pushing themselves further and further so actually this break time kinda becomes productive in its own right.

Something like that!

Hopefully we'll get better with the marketing with time as we receive feedback from a wider audience

When I replied earlier I missed the productivity bit.

That was just one point that came out of the TC chat, but arguably it makes sense when you think about it. Those little bits of exercise now and then really do refresh you and help with stress... There's a lot of discussion in general on HN about the benefits of exercise.

Or work on not getting that feeling as often. Works for me :-)

That mascot is really scary.

Amazing design, though. Really sets you apart from the competition.

The mascot is cool, but am I the only one to think it looks a little close to Toucan Sam (Fruit Loops)?

Someone else said that too - not such a bad thing though I guess? We don't have Toucan Sam over here, so was a coincidence.

We'll post about the evolution of the mascot at some point. He once looked somewhat different.

Nothing wrong with that. It was just the first thing that popped to mind when I saw it.

I'd love to see a posting about the evolution of the mascot and overall design of the app. It's pretty slick.

Looks Like Toucan Sam had sex with Q-Bert and this is their offspring.

What is the mascot supposed to be? I see someone here mentioned a whistle. It almost looked like a water bottle at first. I'm trying to figure it out and it's starting to drive me nuts.

I was thinking anteater. I really don't like the mascot... That big open dirt-devil-vaccuum nose just throws me off. :)

It's the teeth, I think... I can't trust anything that's showing so many teeth at once... :p

The one thing I found missing from the pitch: Is it effective? Of course that's implied in any marketing, but I thought the specifics were a bit fuzzy; just some vague statements about moving around and tracking using the accelerometer.

Thanks for the input. Yeah, we became aware this was missing relative late in the design process. Also, as you'll hopefully see on the blog we did pivot partway through from a more heavy workout schedule to something relatively modest.

There's a lot of evidence to back up the APPROACH (WHO, Surgeon General, etc etc) but what we need is more solid evidence related to our actual users. Other than the fact that BenjieGillam now has pecs :P

One of the interesting things we discovered fairly late in the game was how effective the old apps were at helping weightloss. But the problem with the fitness industry is it's too full of these sorts of claims. We thing there's some much more credible ways of presenting this stuff, and we plan to... just as soon as we have the data.

That and the amount of exercise I do each day is increasing (from zero before I started using FitFu...) and I actually WANT to do it now, which has never been the case before!

I have a fitbit and an Android phone. Personally, I'm in the segment of this market that would like my workout activity tracked in the background. I'm not likely to change my routine based on an app, but if I had an app that could automatically track the details of my exercises at the gym, I'd use it endlessly. Fitbit does this for running / walking, but not for individual exercises yet.

Who does your design? It looks absolutely stunning.

Agreed, really beautiful and engaging. http://despark.com/ are responsible by the looks of things.

Lovely site...but is it really all flash? I have flashblock on and it said entire site was flash. Perhaps an HTML5/JS version would be more appropriate? I was hesitant to let that much flash load on my system given what flash does to my sessions ;)

Yep, it's all flash. Pretty easy to tell when scrolling suddenly jitters and barely works :\

A remarkably nice flash site, and pretty quick to load at that, but I would love to see it w/o flash.

Yeah, that site has no reason at all to be flash.

not mac friendly either. I haven't used a scrollbar in years.... HATE how it goes from greyscale/colour on hover.

Yeah it's Despark. Can't wait to give HN the lowdown on how we did it... Is a fun story :)

Congrats on shipping! The application looks great. I am going to give it a try out later on tonight.

Just tried this out. Very cool start, looking forward to seeing how it evolves.

I would love to see either an API to pull one's own data to graph it. Or built in graphing of some sort. Also more activities overall. Looks like there are only 8.

Thanks! Lots planned for 1.1 and beyond. Feel free to email us any other thoughts you have - hard keeping up with the comments on HN.

Has something changed with the YC process, I don't recall ever seeing as many announcements postfixed with the YC season (i.e YC W11) before that season actually happened as we do now.

There are way more companies per class now, from about 10 up to 30 or so. They also didn't used to have a Winter class.

Even taking that into account. YC companies didn't used to describe themselves as (YC Xxx) until after they went through the process.

AFAIK there's always been a winter class (the second class I believe took place in Winter 06)

Ah, I see what you mean. Should have checked my source before saying that. If I got into YC, it'd be extremely tempting not to do that, though :)

"The more you and your friends are active, the higher your level and the higher your points. And points mean prizes; unlock new content as you progress."

What prizes? I don't see any further explanation of this anywhere on the site. What are the point values for these prizes? What kind of content am I unlocking? Advanced exercises, tips, what?

It's really not clear what happens after I do the exercise, tell my friends and get some points, but apparently something will happen.

How'd best to clarify that. Should we clarify the prizes inline e.g.

"Unlock prizes such as content x,y,x"

Or would it be better to have another page that delves into those features in more detail.

We don't have much experience of doing that whole user-journey bit on a website so all input welcome!

Why not just say "Use your points to unlock new content" which does away with the concept of prizes altogether.

This is cool. Now my iphone has a built in gym as well...

My respect for the YC increasing with each passing batch. I was under the impression that its only possible to come with some software apps for such small investments (in terms of money) - But YC is showing the world that there are no boundaries and no limits on what one could come up with . I only wish if someone can replicate YC to our Healthcare industry.

I love the the whistle character! I also like applying game dynamics and competition to exercise and losing weight

Is this targeted specifically to women? All the screenshots and avatar photos are female. Doesn't seem like it is functionally but I wouldn't want to make the faux pas of installing it like I did when I tried Nike Training Club instead of Nike BOOM.

I must have been distracted, I did find a photo of a guy in one screenshot so I'm thinking it's safe for male consumption.

It's safe for male consumption - do not worry ;)

Any plans for an Android port?

Nice work! Let us know if you ever want to explore integration with GPS/mapping at some point, we are working with several other mobile fitness app developers to provide integration with our service.

Consider yourself emailed! Thx!

Damn I was going to do this, I had the plan on paper around 2 years ago but with a few more features to engage users. Such as competitions worth $ and speed runs using the camera for live competitions

There is still time. Don't be discouraged.

The early bird gets the worm; the second mouse gets the cheese.[1]

Edit: Guess I agree with Sukotto. :)

[1]: http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2009/05/first-mover-advant...

Do it! We're not really first-mover... we're just moving a little differently to others before us.

And the health and fitness industry is huge - ripe for hackers to disrupt!

It seems like a great idea.

What stopped you from doing it?

Great idea - I'd love to help you guys out with copywriting, especially as it seems to be a big problem for HN-ers. Sadly, I don't have an iPhone so I can't even try the app. Meh.

any early testers have any thoughts on how this compares to Fitbit? i am a big fan of Fitbit and their customer support is pretty amazing.

Any chance you guys are from the UK? I think I met you before the YC interview. Congrats!

Yes, we're from the UK :)

Good job, I've already bought both PushupFu and CrunchFu.

Is this like a combination of those two and more?

It's more advanced in some ways, but misses a few features in other ways. For now anyway... 1.1's nearly ready for submission and 1.2 will follow shortly after... We're moving fast.

Are you the same guys that made PushupFu for the iPhone? Or is that purely coincidental?

Yes, that was us :)

Nice to see game mechanics applied to productive activities. Good luck guys!

Why is the FitFu mascot the alien version of Tucan Sam?

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