Part 3: Reimagining FitTech From the Bottom Up

STEPN Official
6 min readJun 22, 2022

This is the third and final installation of our series, STEPN: Building the Future in a Bear Market.

In previous parts, we discussed two of the fundamental ways we seemed to achieve “overnight success.” We did this by working hard and long hours and actively “building the future” ahead of us, instead of just sitting around and trying to speculate at what would happen.

The first portion of our series is Part 1: How We Created a Blue Ocean Market. It covers how we pioneered the move-and-earn market, creating a brand new industry in completely new territory. We discussed how — it wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always clear that we would succeed — but we always believed in our team and our mission. We saw the flourishing Play-to-Earn market (P2E) and innovated beyond by crafting the Move-and-Earn market, marrying the best of the P2E world and the fitness world.

The second portion of our series is Part 2: Rewriting the Playbook of Growth in Web3. Here we describe how our project organically blossomed and experienced incredible parabolic growth by paying attention to product and community. And we’re still continuing to double down on those two cornerstones. Just these past weeks, we’ve fielded a ton of feedback from our user base and are actively implementing positive changes in response to that feedback.

Now, we’ll be diving deep into the third section, Part 3: Reimagining FitTech From the Bottom Up. Today, we will be exploring the current state of fitness in the modern digital age, and how STEPN is turning the industry on its head. In effect, we are forging a new path and disrupting the health and wellness world by injecting incentives and gamification, hacking our psychology and helping make it easier for millions around the world to keep up healthy habits.

The state of fitness

What is the state of our fitness today?

Well, if you take a quick glance at the numbers, you might say that everything is going fantastically.

For example, fitness franchises are booming, posting impressive earnings results. Planet Fitness, for one, has broken pre-pandemic membership levels and expanded to more than 37 new stores. Its total revenue jumped nearly 70% year-over-year and system-wide sales soared by almost $200M. Meanwhile, Xponential Fitness saw its revenue grow by almost 75% year-over-year and opened ~100 studios across the nation.

Elsewhere, wellness brands like athleisure are on the up and up as well. lululemon reported that it grew revenue by about 30%, from $1.23B to $1.61B year-over-year and despite market-wide declines and crashes, its stock has been steadily rising. As a result, it revised its full-year earnings forecast, increasing it from $7.49B to $7.61B.

Indeed, looking at these financials, it may appear that things are going quite well for the fitness industry. But a second look reveals a troubling paradox. Even as these giant brands are winning… it seems that the consumers they’re serving aren’t thriving.

Despite all our fitness tech, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. Keeping our current trajectory, the World Obesity Atlas predicted that a whopping 1 billion people will be living with obesity by 2030.

  • Even with our gym memberships and studio class passes, we’re chronically indoors and inactive. The CDC says that between 17–48% of adults in US states aren’t physically active enough. This contributes to 1 in 10 premature deaths in the US and about $117 billion in annual healthcare costs.
  • And finally, there’s a growing divide in who is healthy and who isn’t — what some are calling the health-wealth gap. Simply put, the rich are getting healthier and the poor are getting sicker. Inequity is worsening across all factors, from income to race to gender. Socioeconomic status is becoming one of the leading indicators of longevity.

A new approach

These issues were already prevalent before COVID-19 swept through the world, and now they’ve only been exacerbated. Decidedly, the future of fitness can’t just be $1,000 exercise bikes and wellness retreats that only the 1% can afford.

We need a better system.

The issue is, everyone knows that exercise is good for you… but it’s a bit harder to actually maintain a consistent workout habit.

We know that regular movement leads to better heart health, immunity, and overall well-being, but unfortunately, it can be hard to overcome the mental barrier of getting outdoors. In the age of instant gratification, it’s much, much easier for us to be glued to our screens, getting quick little hits of dopamine.

Enter STEPN

As people who aren’t born exercise fanatics, we get it. We also happen to be passionate web3 builders and, as we observed these trends, we wondered — what if we combined these two massive markets? Until recently, web3 has only scratched the surface of fitness, which is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, valued at over $4.7 trillion and expanding at a double-digit pace every year.

Building our idea, we decided to add two powerful forces to fitness to solve the problems we described above and motivate millions to get moving and improve their health.

1) Incentivizing users

It might seem obvious now, but before we started doing this there was almost no one in the market who was doing this successfully. We added strong incentive for users to make healthy choices.

See, while you might know that going outside to walk or jog is good for you, that might not be enough motivation to overcome your inertia. With the added promise of earning tokens, STEPN gives an extra nudge that can tip the scales, the final push that people need to get out the door.

2) Gamifying fitness

We’ve added a variety of levers to make exercise fun again. Everyone’s experienced a boring treadmill run. Or had a really dry day at the gym.

Through our in-game rewards, level-ups, customized sneakers, daily energy allowances, and more, we have added levels of gamification to make it entertaining and rewarding. Fitness is now essentially competing with TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, etc. for your attention. Gamified fitness is a powerful and proven way to make fitness addicting and “trick” people into developing healthy habits that actually stick.

2) Creating habit — Improving mental and physical health

When people meet in outdoor settings, with their families, spouses, pets or even by themselves, they are running together in reality not just in the metaverse. These digital campfires lead to positive reinforcements which further set up a positive feedback loop that keeps users coming back and building a habit. We wrote more about it here. Our growing number of get-togethers across the world is a testament to the power of STEPN community and their happiness in meaningful connections and empowerment. The number of testimonials we receive from our users to highlight the positive influence of our app on their physical and mental health is truly endearing. We take pride in the fact that our app truly transcended the virtual realms into real life with a real impact on real people!

Looking Ahead

If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware that the bear market is setting in. Prices are pulling back, layoffs are occurring across the board, and cynics are becoming louder.

But even as it gets frigid, we’re buckling down and working harder than ever. For us, throwing in the towel isn’t even remotely an option. In fact, we are heads down building relentlessly, working closely with our community, and are putting double the effort into delivering value to all of our users as best as we can.

No one knows what the future holds, but the people who have the best idea are the ones who are building. Here at STEPN, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

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STEPN Official

STEPN is a Web3 lifestyle app with Social and Game elements.