It’s not integrated with Apple Fitness or Peloton. It has no companion app or website. It won’t send you reminder emails or notifications.

That’s the fitness tracking/challenge I put together for my family. It’s just a sheet that we print and use to track our activity.

I’m sure we are not the only parents who have struggled with getting the family physically active during the pandemic, and I wanted to do something about it.

I spent four years building EveryMove, which, at the time, was the largest fitness aggregator, gamified experience, and incentive engine service available. I believed I could use some of the best lessons from that experience to do something for us.

Nearly a decade ago, I shared office space with Buster Benson and Amelia Greenhall. At that time, they created a project called Hipster Habit App — a hand-drawn PDF for you to print and use to track and change a habit. It was wonderfully crafted.

My experience with EveryMove, the inspiration from Buster and Amelia’s work, and the pandemic’s home-bound lifestyle led me to create Tiny Fitness: a no-tech approach to set goals, track your activities, and get motivated to adopt an active lifestyle.

As a parent, I’m not new to tracking sheets, checklists, and calendar-based plans. Each parent borrows, combines, and creates whatever they need to help their kids and themselves — home chores, school work, behavior, etc.

That’s what I did for Tiny Fitness. I extract the essence of what it means to set goals, track your fitness, and make it into a challenge/program.

At EveryMove, I created a patented actuarially accurate point-system that would correlate a physical activity with the likelihood of living a healthier life. Our goal was to have health insurers and employers reward individuals who reduced their risk of lifestyle-driven conditions.

To make Tiny Fitness, I approached it from a different angle: What tactics from behavior science would be more likely to cause a habit to stick?

If you can incorporate a new routine for 60 days or so (not the infamous “21 days”), you won the habit battle. It’s downhill after that to maintain your newly-formed habit. An excellent system to change habit makes the onramp as easy as possible, creates micro-layers of carrots and sticks (rewards/punishments), has wiggle room for your needs (and unexpected circumstances), and allows you to combine it with your overarching objectives.

Our family used it for a week, and it got us moving (see the photo; and yes, I got the last place that week). I’ve made the final refinements, and I decided to publish it for others to use it. I thought it could be useful for New Year resolutions or to get motivated to change fitness habits in 2021. Call it my contribution during the pandemic.

For certain types of problems, non-tech solutions provide a solution with fewer clicks, literally. Getting the phone out of your pocket, unlocking, opening an app, clicking on a button to take some action, adding a bit of information — do we really need that for everything? It’s like removing all light switches from your home and controlling them from an app. In the case of the lightswitch, having both solutions — the wall switch and the app — feels like progress in the right direction (until you lose WiFi or the AWS region that controls your switch is down and you can’t turn on the lights).

Yet, there are other tech solutions where the no-tech version will do just fine (or better!). A paper printout, for example, can help you change a habit.

Printing Tiny Fitness and taping it to your refrigerator or bathroom mirror is the real-time dashboard on your not-so-smart refrigerator/mirror, continually showing your progress and reminding you to do something. You can even reward yourself at the end of each week if you think it will help.

What’s next for Tiny Fitness? Nothing. That’s it. We might not need apps and websites for everything. Pen and paper still is an effective solution for many problems — so is a spreadsheet!

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News – No-tech fitness tracking: Health tech entrepreneur creates a PDF to help family hit exercise goals