Happy N’ Healthy: Exercising App During Quarantine
Reconnect and realign with nature, others, and yourself. An app tackling home isolation to help transition exercise habits due to COVID-19. Learning about mobile information systems through research then applying them by creating a product.
Made with 🏃by Ilmaa, Kasey, Kendall, Kenny, and Natalie
COVID-19 impacted people in many ways, from mental health to their daily way of life. We specifically wanted to tackle home isolation and the way people’s exercise routines were affected. Design is creating experiences for people so we wanted to empower users of our product with the experience of health and as much physical normality possible during COVID-19.
Before creating a product to help people, we needed to understand the issue through user research. We scoured the internet, performed surveys, and interviewed people to understand the problem of altered exercise habits because of being at home more due to COVID-19.
Secondary Research: Observing online communities
We observed several communities of Reddit and Facebook from online collaboration groups including:
Reddit groups: r/homefitness, r/naturalbodybuilding, r/advice, r/bodyweightfitness
Facebook Groups: Home Workout, Healthy Meals and Workout Tips, Diet and Fitness, Body Building, Workouts for Lazy People
Reddit users mainly expressed they wanted to exercise but felt too sluggish and tired to actually start.
Facebook users usually asked for workout programs and shows they could watch at home, they talked about their daily exercise, and how they were often times unmotivated.
Some of the main themes we observed overall were
- Adapting to home workouts/using equipment found at home
- Problems with motivation due to various situations resulting from COVID-19 (financial, social, etc.)
- No personal trainer/gym staff = confusion around form
- Memes and complaints about gyms being closed
- Asking/giving various workout recommendations
- Soreness and neck/posture problems
Yesterday I bought one of those pull up bars you hang from your door frame…AND I CAN’T EVEN DO ONE PULL UP ALONE!!! — u/batdud3
From our secondary research, we found that because of quarantine, there have been a lot of obstacles for people to stay motivated. For example: gyms, fitness centers, parks, and beaches have closed, inhibiting people’s desire to be active and exercise.
According to the world health organization, the shelter in place order has posed that staying at home for prolonged periods of time can pose a significant challenge for remaining physically active and even “low levels of physical activity can have negative effects on the health, well-being and quality of life of individuals.” This shows that it is extremely important for people to get as much exercise as possible during the COVID-19 crisis.
User research: Online questionnaires
Conducting secondary research led us to decide on the most appropriate questions for a survey we sent out to these workout Reddit and Facebook groups. We wanted to send out a survey to get quantitative data to understand people’s reasons and ability to exercise during the stay-at-home order. We divided our questions into four categories of people:
- Exercise only before quarantine
- Exercise only after quarantine
- Exercise before and after quarantine
- Do not exercise at all
Within each of these categories we asked the five w’s: who, what, when, where why.
We ended up getting 42 responses total. Most of the respondants attempted to exercise both before and during quarantine.
Survey analytics + statistics
- 91% working or students part-time or full-time
- 9% unemployed
Housing status (before → after stay-at-home order)
- 83% → 24% lived in an apartment or dorm
- 17% → 76% lived in a house before then after quarantine
- 23.8% only exercised before
- 7.1% only started exercise now
- 59.5% exercised before and exercises now
- 9.5% did not exercise before and do not exercise now
Participants that exercised only before the quarantine (10)
- 80% exercised for at least 30 min at least twice a week
- 70% did activities that involved being outside or to be done with other (hiking, gym, dance teams, etc)
- 96% exercised for either health reasons or fun
- 60% go to a gym
- 40% go outdoors
- 40% used equipment from a gym or for outdoor activities like hiking
- 90% did not follow a workout regimen or program
- For those who did, they were all online programs
- 40% exercised alone
Participants that exercised only during the quarantine (3)
- 66.7% exercised 4 times a week
- 66% followed online exercise videos
- 33.3% went for runs in the neighborhood, others stayed home
- Resistance bands were the only reported equipment
- 66.7% do not follow any routines/programs
- If they did, it was an online regimen
Participants that exercised before and during quarantine (25)
- 40% (majority) exercised 4 times a week for at least 30 min
- 96% did a combination of gym machines, cardio workouts, and running/dance
- 40% exercise for health and fitness reasons
- 50% exercise for body image/confidence reasons
- 12% used equipment from the gym
- 40% followed workout regimens/programs
- 68.8% of these respondents said they were in person
- 43.8% followed online programs
- 64% exercised alone
Participants that do not exercise (10 people):
- 30% cite being too “lazy” to exercise
- 50% cite having no equipment or access to gyms to start
- But 80% responded that they only needed themselves to start exercising
Primary research: Virtual interviews
We asked survey participants if they would be willing to participate in an interview. Each of us conducted two interviews totaling in 10 interviewees. Here are some the key quotes from interviews:
“I enjoy exercising in a group bc enjoys being around and with people especially people are optimistic and happy but… I am committed to walking because of essential health problems so must stay with exercise plan to thrive so have not struggled because it it not optional.” — 65-year-old female
“I would run from ERC/Pangea parking structure to either the medical center on the left or right and just go”. Now: “I’m not eating enough to feel energized enough to run. I could eat more but haven’t had motivation. It’s a me problem.” — 19-year-old female
“To be frank, I am a lot of times lazy to exercise and usually I occupy my time with other things. Classes and other responsibilities like orgs and work can get a lot sometimes. Because of this I don’t even think about exercise since my mind focuses on something else.” — 19-year-old male
We then made analysis for each category of exerciser:
Exercised only before quarantine
It is possible that the change in lifestyle from ‘normality’ into quarantine has been the largest contributor to why they decided to stop. For example, 60% of them used to exercise in a gym — which are now closed — so the lack of equipment may put them off from changing routines to home friendly ones. Additionally, the 70% did outdoor activities which are also all blocked off. A major theme among all survey takers was loss of motivation so this may have been a large factor as well.
Exercise only after quarantine
The most noticeable fact from here is that the quality of exercise is very low. This may be because they are restricted in the types of exercise they can do, and since they are only starting now, it may impact their views on exercise.
Exercised before and after quarantine
These people seemed a lot more motivated to continue exercising through quarantine possibly because they have a solid routine down, and because 64% already exercise alone they do not have any major changes in motivation (partner wise). For them, the biggest obstacle was figuring out how to change their routines to work during quarantine.
Do not exercise at all
Among the participants saying they are too ‘lazy’, we found again that by laziness, they mean loss of motivation or not having the motivation at all to start. Additionally, self image and body confidence were also a obstacle, especially when other people are watching them. However they also responded that the only thing they needed was themselves so they have the right mindset, but just need a push to get started.
Since we were unable to meet with our group in person, we had a virtual sticky note board to make notes from our user research about different categories of people. From the general interview results, we split the types of answers into 6 archetypes:
Based off of these archetypes from our user research we created the main user personas from common theme of people. These are the key users we would target when creating and marketing our product:
Storyboard journey maps
To create a product that would solve our personas, we created storyboards with potential solutions for user problems.
Scenario 1 showcases how we saw people having trouble adapting to their new home environment, especially when it comes to exercising. Our research saw that people don’t know how to exercise at home and with their limited equipment were at a complete loss. Additionally, people felt alone and awkward when exercising by themselves, unlike how they used to exercise in bigger groups (not everyone but targeted towards people who stated they worked out in groups before). Our solution calls for a mobile app that will not only teach people new home workout routines and show them what they can use at home as equipment, but also allows people to video call others to exercise as a group.
Scenario 2 is mostly targeted towards students who have switched to online learning. Here, students may feel swamped with work and oftentimes will forget when to exercise. Our mobile app helps remind the student when they should exercise, stand up, and hydrate. Additionally, this app will also suggest basic exercises and stretches a student can do while at home.
Scenario 3 is for those who used to workout with trainers or others who taught them how exactly to workout with the correct form. The solution app helps people connect with others to learn more about what they can do and how exactly to do it in terms of working out.
Scenario 4 is for those who lack workout equipment at home. The solution is a mobile app that helps people find common objects throughout households and showing them how they can incorporate them into their workouts. Additionally, this app allows users to connect with others to complete workouts and/or post workout routines. This ultimately will also help increase one’s motivation to actually exercise.
Scenario 5 is for people who, despite the quarantine, still wish to exercise outside. Our app allows users to search up places to exercise while at the same time upholding social distancing and maintaining safety. This app will help ease people in their fears of being in a crowded area during this outbreak.
Now that we had a solid understanding of the main product users, their background, and the issues as well as the general solutions they would be receptive toward we could begin to prototype product designs. Our personas would be most receptive to incorporating their phone into their routine so we decided to create a mobile app.
Sketches and wireframes
We crated general wireframes of user flows and sketches of what the potential mobile app would look like.
We created digital outlines of our sketches and user flows.
Moving into more visual interface prototyping, we wanted our app to have a certain feel when using it. Here were some of our inspirations:
We then created high-fidelity prototypes based off of the sketches, mood-board, low-fidelity user testing, and low-fidelity prototypes.
We performed five user tests on both our low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes.
We created tasks and asked questions for the participants to complete to see if our app was designed in an understandable interface to someone who would be new to it.
Tasks (from low-fidelity)
- Create account
- Pick indoor/outdoor for their prefered workout location
- If outdoor: scan current location (shows how much foot traffic is there) → search for a specific park, trail based on proximity in search bar
- If outdoor: can view and select different workouts based on location → select workout based on area of focus: ex. Cardio, arms, abs
- If indoor: can view and select different workout → select workout based on area of focus: ex. Cardio, arms, abs (with or without equipment option as well)
- Schedule a workout meet with friends → create a meet for 5pm, (every MWF) and add two friends already connected to the app and invite one friend from contact list/facebook
Questions (from high-fidelity)
- Is there anything confusing about the app?
- Do you feel comfortable using this app?
- What (if anything) would you want to change about this app?
- Are there any features you feel are necessary?
- Are there any features you feel are unnecessary?
Feedback (from low and high-fidelity)
The main general voice we received from the interview questions we asked included:
- Fitness and exercise based, gave a sense of normalcy
- Lacks intuitively, would need a description
- Would use the app although it seems like it has a lot of features
- Would use the app to exercise outside or indoors with friends
Challenges we faced
We learned a lot from this project. Here were some of our challenges and insights gained:
- Communication is difficult when a group is unable to meet up in person: this makes communication even more important → at first a few of us did meet up on Zoom at first but then started doing it more as things ramped up.
- Sometimes working together makes work slower: while working together is great sometimes it made things awkward and indecisive → we worked best when we met up during shorter periods of time to discuss then finish individual parts on our own time
- Designs are not perfect their first time: or their second or third or…tenth → we had to iterate many times from our initial designs until we ended up with something cohesive, user-friendly, visually pleasing, and marketable
- Work overlaps leads to confusion: when people are assigned similar tasks they might create two different solutions → team work makes the dream work so combining designs usually was best
Below are some of our initial designs and the results of iteration, collaboration, and working out design kinks together.
This product would be distributed on the app store and work through a free-to-use service. Users would be able to use all features of the app but would be restricted in how many workouts they could schedule with friends at a time, how many goals they had per week, and how many indoor or outdoor workouts would be displayed. They would pay a single, one-time fee of $20 to unlock all unlimited features for life.
We evaluated similar apps on the market but found they fall short in their use during COVID, exercise accountability, and are subscription-based services. The one-time fee of $20 would seem more worth it over time and ultimately provide more benefit to users.
We performed high-fidelity user tests, created a style guide and component library, and polished it up to come up with a final product.
Welcome and home screen
So, finally let’s take a look at the high fidelity prototype of our app, Happy ‘N Healthy. When first entering the app users are greeted by the login screen, which you can see here on the left. And after signing in they are met with the home screen. Going from top to bottom. Firstly, users will see rings around their profile picture. These rings indicate the progress the user has made on their daily and weekly exercise goals. Placing it here on the home screen makes it easily accessible for users. Secondly, users are asked whether or not they want to start their workout indoors or outdoors. Choosing an option here will take the user to another screen where they can finalize where, when, and who they want to workout with. Lastly, I will explain the nav bar located on the bottom of every screen in our prototype. Going from left to right, clicking on the icons will take you to either the calendar, chat, home, saved workouts, or profile page.
Indoor and outdoor workouts
To help adjust to exercising in the dangerous time of COVID, we created two paths for users adjust to a workout style or area that is safe and they can still achieve their goals.
If the user is used to exercising outside they are presented a heatmap with locations near them signaling whether it is safe and socially distant enough or not to work out. They can also filter locations based on outdoor features they are interested like having a trail or a lot of open space to spread out a mat.
If a user usually works out indoor like at a gym, they are shown a list of workouts than can be done at home. This is to provide inspiration and guided workouts to assist in the transition to not having a gym. They can sort by what type of work out it is, like strength or cardio, full body or arms, easy or challenging and then find related workouts based on the root one.
Saved workouts and locations
Users can save their indoor and outdoor workouts then find them by searching, sorting, or filtering!
Add + connect with friends
To help motivate users, we added a friends function that can connect to their contacts or other social media to find friends. This allows them to view their progress in meeting their goals. Together, they can start on the same routines and workouts.
With our built in chat system, users are able to communicate with their friends, families, workout groups, or whoever. Here, users can do a range of things from sharing their favorite workouts to scheduling a workout with others.
Our connect screen allows the user to see an overview of their month, along with any exercise meets they have scheduled. Scheduling a new meet is simple, just click the plus and it will bring you to a scheduling page. The user can choose a title, any potential attendees from their list of friends, a time and date, location, and type of workout all in one screen. With one click they can schedule a workout with a friend
Profile and goals
The profile page is laid out so that the user can see all of her scheduled workouts, and the progress that she has made throughout the day and week. From there once the user clicks on add and edit goals, there will be an edit page where they can edit their bios, name, and most importantly add a new goal!
Style guide and component library
Creating a product to solve home isolation and working out during the stay-at-home order was an exercise in user-understanding, iteration, and creating something that has the potential to truly help people at a low cost. We had a lot of interesting times designing, learning about issues that have arisen from the quarantine, and trying out own hand at being able to collaborate during COVID-19. We hope you enjoyed our process and write-up to creating a product that solves an issue that arose from this pandemic.
Changes for the future
In the future we hope to conduct more testing to refine, combine, or add features that are useful. While the shelter-in-place orders are currently being lifted, the danger of COVID-19 is still just as high, gyms are still not open, and it is likely they will be put in place again and we will want to find a team to work with to release this app to help people exercise at home. In the coming years when it is not longer necessary to be socially distant we will pivot the app to be still sociable and useful long after, with personality and accountability being our defining feature in being an app.
Made with 🏃by Ilmaa, Kasey, Kendall, Kenny, and Natalie. Each of us worked toward the challenge and mission statement, performed research, user-testing, made write-ups, and designed interfaces. We highlight some of our key contributions:
Illmaa: Designed Scheduling, orchestrated the mood board, refined and polished the design
Kasey: Designed Add and Connect with Friends
Kendall: Designed the Saved, Indoor, and Outdoor interfaces with filters, performed user research on diverse groups
Kenny: Designed the Home, Login, Chat, and Guided Workout for indoor and outdoors
Natalie: Designed Profile Add and Edit Goals, performed in-depth user research; spearheaded the Competitve Analysis