In less than a week after launching, nearly 10,000 people gave the CAKEWALK app permission to shame them if they aren’t active enough.
“We get lots of new users every single day that we’ve been on,” Ben Meyers, the app’s product designer from Robots & Pencils, says.
He says the idea for CAKEWALK began to take shape in March 2015.
“The idea came from me using fitness applications,” Meyers says.
None of the apps he was using had any personality, so he set out to create one that did.
CAKEWALK tracks users’ steps. If someone doesn’t take many steps in a day, it sends them sassy, shaming messages, such as, “Dat desk job bod. 3,809 steps yesterday.”
Alternatively, if they had an active day, they’ll receive a congratulating message, such as, “10,981 steps yesterday. Very nice. Treat yo’self.”
There’s an option to have the app tweet shaming messages at users when they aren’t being active. Don’t want to be shamed on a particular day? Just bribe CAKEWALK with a payment of a dollar or two.
“A lot of people are really receptive to the idea of being publicly shamed on Twitter,” Meyers says. Including him. He says he’s one of the most active users on CAKEWALK right now.
The app allows people to connect with and compete against others. Meyers says there’s a competition in his office to stay active.
“I found that I’m actually way more active now that I have the app out in the app store because I’m competing against my friends,” Meyers says.
He admits that this isn’t an app for everyone.
“Some people just don’t need this kind of motivation. It just kind of brings a funny spin to something that is usually pretty serious,” Meyers says.
Wesmen men’s volleyball coach Larry McKay is one person who thinks shame isn’t the way to go when motivating oneself or others.
“I don’t need some device to keep track of it for me,” McKay says. “I want to just do it because I enjoy it and it feels good and I know what the benefits are.”
He says the only concrete goal people should set, when it comes to fitness and other aspects of their lives, is to be a good person.
“Life takes us such different places on its own. So much of it is out of your control. If you set up long term goals – even some short term goals – you’re setting yourself up for disappointment,” McKay says.
Rather than stressing over how many steps they’re taking daily, McKay recommends people set fluid goals which they are prepared to change as life circumstances change.
“I don’t make many goals,” McKay says. He does, however, internally reflect on the things he thinks he’s done wrong in life to prepare himself to take different actions next time.
Whether it’s learning from past mistakes or working to avoid being shamed on Twitter, the best motivator is whatever works well for you.
Published in Volume 70, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 11, 2016)