The number of hours spent sitting has increased since working from home during the pandemic. According to the Harvard Medical school, spending too many hours sitting is hazardous to your health. From our own user research, we have found that people sit for an average of 6 hours per day. Habitual inactivity raises the risks for life-threatening diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. More than 5 million people around the world die from causes associated with inactivity.
Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine have found that even light physical activity, including standing, can combat the effects of prolonged sitting. A lower risk for death was observed in participants that stood still for as little as 30 mins per day. The positive effects of standing were even stronger when participants moved around during the time they were standing. Given the research, breaking up long blocks of sitting with some light activity seems like a wise move for us all.
We conducted surveys and interviews with 20 participants and gathered valuable insights. Most people sit for prolonged periods of time (6 hours on average) every day.
Most people could benefit from a boost of energy in the late morning (10-11am) and early afternoon (2-3pm). Some people have a workout routine at the gym while others prefer non-traditional forms of exercise. Most people that have set and achieved fitness goals fall off due to their busy schedule, covid limitations, or a lack of motivation
From our user research, we have learned that most people either do not achieve their activity goals or are not consistent with achieving them in the long term. The common reasons for this include their busy schedule, a lack of motivation, and a disinterest in the fitness methods that are popular today. A lot of people also mentioned that doing a workout alone at home is something that demotivates them as they need a community of likeminded people around to keep going with their workout routine.
Our potential users work extended hours at the desk and want an alternative way to be active and be reminded to get up. They need to get a boost of energy when their energy is the lowest. Some of our users have an “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to fitness, and they want to set sustainable movement goals and celebrate achievements so that they can stick to the habit long term.
How might we make the experience of physical activity delightful for those who sit for extended periods of time so that it reinforces their behaviour?
A possible solution will be to send users reminders (push notifications) to get up and move at times where they are most likely to need an energy boost (10am and 2pm, according to our user research). We can incorporate upbeat music and allow users to move in the way they feel best. This will help address the first pain point which is that users are bored of typical fitness exercises and want alternative ways to be physically active throughout their day.
During our initial brainstorming sessions, we agreed that we want to help people move more and make the process fun. At first, we thought we would build an app with several fitness exercises and video tutorials for them. After several user surveys and discussions within the team we decided to make a pivot to a different type of movement activity. We came up with a solution that aims to:
And most importantly do it in a fun way - don’t just move, dance! We decided to move away from conventional fitness app model with standard fitness exercises that require professional guidance, visual tutorials, or prior fitness experience. Movement breaks in our up are dance moves. We want to make this app accessible to people with all levels of fitness and make it fun and positive.
Shimmy app is simple to use, fun and friendly. It consists of several set-up pages, main dashboard with calendar view and stats page. During initial launch, the app will prompt the user to register using their email and password. After that the user will set the time they want their movement break to be scheduled for and confirm notification enablement. After onboarding and landing on the main page, the user may choose to start their movement break. The timer will go off and Shimmy Time will start. Shimmy Time page has a 1 minute timer and an upbeat song playing in the background. Our mascot Shimmy is also dancing with the user. Once the minute is up the user get congratulated on an accomplishment with confetti fireworks – we would like our users to be happy about their results and feel the support from Shimmy and the community.
If the user would like to schedule more, they can press a plus button and set a desired time. If the user wants to edit or delete existing shimmy time, they swipe to the left and choose the option. To keep track of the progress we have created the Insights page. User can check their streak and how much time they’ve been moving.
For our next steps we would like to include more songs into Shimmy music library and the ability to shuffle through them in case the user doesn’t like the song that was selected for them. Integrating with one of the streaming services is an option that we would like to consider. For planning activities and smoother integration with everyday schedules, we consider syncing with user’s Google calendar. We would also like to focus more on gamification of the experience and include virtual prizes, points, challenges, and leaderboards within the app, the ability to add friends, send them challenges and have private leaderboards within the group.
Working on Shimmy with a team of professionals of different traits and backgrounds helped me look at the process of product creation from the more global perspective.
There’s no one person who creates a product, no one person who carries the load of executing tasks and creating features – it’s always the team.
I have learnt to better organise my time, especially considering we were in different time zones. I had a chance to apply Agile practices in live process of product creation, which gave me confidence boost in my PM skills. I learnt how important prioritization is – we had a very limited timeframe, only 8 weeks, so cutting some features from our MVP was painful but necessary. I was lucky enough to be on the same team with people as passionate as me about our product and this fact made my experience very pleasant and exciting.
Working on Shimmy from concept to development taught me to think and work lean, specifically with 3 main limitations:
Overall, this was an exercise in ruthless prioritization on a tight timeline. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the decision framework necessary to scope an MVP. It also gave me a stronger sense of roadmapping beyond the initial launch.