These days, we rarely just “work out.” With fitness gadgets that track your every movement and apps that generate customized workout regimens, we go into the gym with more data about ourselves than ever before. Gains are more attainable, and we know exactly how to get them based on our body type.
Like most technologies, though, workout apps and hardware are inherently self-centered. They track and show how you stack up against a previous, less jacked version of yourself. Simply put, the only person you compete against is yourself. What happened to a little competition?
This is where REPerformance steps in.
Bench Press Your Way to the Top
REP is the brainchild of Callen McGibbon, a trainer at Laurentian University in Ontario who has over two decades of physical fitness education under his belt.
It’s a new app that is at the same time both old and new school in its execution. REP gives users a tool to track performance in the gym (much like other apps). But, if you find yourself searching for some competition, REP allows you to compete against others in your age range, or your friends, or even across geographical locations…all in a variety of different workouts that never get repetitive nor boring.
For instance, users input how many bench press reps they achieved during a workout. REP places their scores on a leaderboard where weightlifters can see where they rank. REP has gamified the weight room with users pushing each other to get to the top of the boards.
“The personal training industry decided to steer away from comparing [yourself] to others; you compare yourself to you. That still has a really relevant application,” says McGibbon. “My interpretation of people is that they are less motivated by themselves now as they are motivated by others. REP is kind of against that whole philosophy that influenced the fitness world in the ‘80s. We’re about ‘Hey, use our app and see where you stack up to people your age, your friends, or half way around the world.’”
The applications of the app are thus limitless. Fraternities can challenge one another to a bench press competition on campus without ever having to step into the gym at the same time. Or, as has been tested, entire universities can challenge each other to an air squat challenge. This not only brings the necessity of physical fitness to the forefront of minds, but it does so in a friendly and competitive manner; as schools, students, or colleagues battle for bragging rights (all the while becoming a healthier version of themselves).
Using Data to Push to the Next Level
When running trial tests for REP, McGibbon and his team developed several models and examples for training. Working with Laurentian University student-athletes, interns, and professional clients, the team found that when participants trained and competed against each other, they achieved better results than working out alone.
“We started to see that when we were doing this competitive environment training model within the gym, we were getting results in five weeks that it was taking us 12 weeks to get in traditional 5×5 strength programs,” recalls McGibbon.
REP matches gains with a social component, something that McGibbon believes is key to the app’s success in getting people in shape. But it’s also the nature of how people work out these days. Inevitably, like most daily things, going to the gym ends up on social media, and people love to post mirror pics and how many reps they are pumping. REP caters to that type of gym rat, which is the natural evolution of how people work out.
“The next generation, they care about their health, they want to be fit, and they have no qualms or quarrels whatsoever about it. They’re proud of it,” says McGibbon. “They want to put it on social media. They want to put it on Facebook. And they want data; they want feedback. They’re looking for another level of motivation. Put yourself out there and see where you stack up. If you get upset about it, then do something about it. I think [REP is] just a motivational tool now.”
A Global Gym Community
Though REP is still a relatively new app, it has built an impressive user base that competes in the company’s weekly lifting challenges. Out of that user base, a committed community of gym devotees has formed around REP and the instant competition it provides, a development that McGibbon has witnessed firsthand.
“The most exciting part about this journey for me is to see how strong people become as a community. When I go back and look at the challenge scores for last year, for example, last year, the person who won the bench press power challenge in August won with 27 reps. We just ran a bench press challenge, the person that won got 64 reps,” says McGibbon.
“They like that it is a community; like it’s a group of people that are like-minded people that are pushing themselves to be better. And whether you win or land in the top five or not, everyone’s scores are constantly getting better. And it’s tangible; it’s feedback. It’s this community of people that are just constantly supporting one another and getting better by constantly pushing one another.”
The next phase of the app includes updates that will make REP even more social. Users will be able to customize their stat profiles further, and the company plans on integrating a chat function that McGibbon says will work in a similar way to Instagram. Though the next iterations of the app will be more social-forward, McGibbon assures, the main framework of REP will remain.
“That’s what sets us apart. We’re not a programming app. We don’t give people workout programs. We don’t tell anybody what to do. We just say, ‘Hey, here’s a platform. Jump in and let’s all get stronger together.”’