Tag Archives: Fitness

Sweating the details: odor eliminating disposable laundry bags

30 Sep

Like millions of busy, health-conscious professionals around the world, I strive to hit the gym before work as often as possible. My gym is conveniently located on the same block as my office, so after a grueling workout, I hit the shower and head into the office to start my day. Just as my workouts leave my lungs and muscles exhausted, so too are my gym clothes, which are transformed into sweat-soaked relics of a solid gym session.


Conveniently, my gym provides disposable plastic bags to store my sweaty gear until I’m able to dump it in the laundry – 12 hours later when I get home from work. The bags protect my coworkers from the foul odors that are no doubt emanating from my stinky gear, but at the same time the bags create an environment that fosters the buildup of bacteria and “funk” that somehow overpowers even the most intense laundry detergents and washing cycles. What ends up happening is that the life of my gym clothes is cut short. As I’ve repeated the experience of dumping my dirty workout clothes into the laundry countless times over the past several years, I’ve realized that there is a real opportunity to design a solution to improve the disposable gym bag.

The bags that my gym and countless others around the world provide to their patrons are pretty much identical to produce bags that you’ll find in a supermarket. This solution is cost-effective and convenient, but doesn’t address the issues of odor and moisture that are by-products of the fitness session. What I imagine is a bag with an odor-fighting and moisture-wicking liner that extends the life of gym clothes by pre-treating them before they are laundered. Just as a box of baking soda in the fridge eliminates odors and  a slice of bread in a jar of brown sugar absorbs moisture and prevents clumping, so too could a treated laundry bag provide the same benefits for dirty clothes.

The market for such a solution is huge – according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, there are almost 30,000 health clubs with 51.4 million members in the U.S. alone. These 30,000 facilities all produce millions of pounds of sweaty and stinking workout gear that, for the most part, fester in a pile of dirty clothes until the gym-goer feels compelled to run a load of laundry. A “better bag” would be an easy sell to many of these health clubs, which attract members partly on the basis of amenities offered.

In addition to the B2B sales of this product to health clubs around the world, there is a compelling B2C market. The success of Glad’s innovative scented garbage bags, leveraging the Febreeze brand, shows a consumer interest in “premium plastic bags”; I imagine that a treated disposable laundry bag would be an attractive offering for travelers, students and a range of other consumers interested in temporarily storing odorous possessions until they can be washed or disposed of.

Once developed and launched, the brand would be a natural acquisition target for bag manufacturers such as Hefty and Glad.


Get Paid to Lose Weight

13 Apr

In the last several decades, there has been little to no innovation in the fitness club model: you pay a monthly fee in order to gain access to the club. Sure, over the years the clubs have invested in modern equipment and added ridiculous fitness classes, but there remains a large group of people (pun intended) who are so busy/lazy/apathetic that they pay their monthly membership and never actually go to the gym. What a waste. It’s actually brilliant for a fitness clubs, because there is no better customer than one who pays for a good but never comes to pick it up.

What if there was a way to better align everyone’s incentives? Gyms want people to pay high monthly fees. Athletic and image-conscious folk alike want to shred weights and tae-bo all day, and fat people want to get less fat; both groups are willing to spend money to achieve their goals, but would prefer to spend as little as possible. Ok so the “as-is” model means that you pay to access fitness, and then it’s up to your personal drive, determination, and time management to get in shape. That can be tough for a lot of people.

Would you workout more often if you were paid with each workout? Yes. Obviously. I have a fairly radical proposition for a fitness club program: get paid to lose weight. The premise is that you pay an outrageously high monthly fee- say (say, $300), and with each workout, you are paid back a small amount ($5-10….let’s play around with the numbers a bit). Essentially, you are incentivized to workout as much as possible in order to lower your monthly fitness expenses. Money has, and always will be, a more powerful motivator than Billy Blanks or that bumping playlist you just downloaded.

“Well what about the fitness clubs?” you ask. Are you outraged that they are now charging you three times as much for your monthly membership? I would be, but maybe I would be less outraged if I knew that they donated half of the premium from my “Get Paid to Lose Weight” program to a nonprofit dedicated to youth health and nutrition. I’m inspired by the TOM’s shoes buy-one-give-one model, where customers pay a premium for a product in order to do good in the world, and could imagine how a person who missed his fitness goals- and therefore paid an extra $___ that month- would be more comfortable slacking off knowing that he was supporting a valid cause. Definitely a stretch, I admit, but that is just one of the many possible iterations of this new model.

The goal here is to address the behavioral issue inherent in the current gym model. Once a gym member has paid for that month, it doesn’t matter how many times he works out, because it is equally expensive to workout one time or 20 times that month. If we incentivize people to workout- and money is a helluva motivator- everyone wins.

Readers- I want to hear from you. What do you pay for a gym membership now? How does that translate to cost per each workout? Finally, how much would you have to be paid to go run for 30 minutes right now?