GoodGym helps you get fit by doing good. It is an organization that combines the regular exercise of running with helping local communities through three streams:

Coach Runs: Weekly runs to make social visits to isolated older people called “coaches” because they motivate their runner.

Missions: Runs to help out older people with one-off practical tasks that they are no longer able to do on their own. 

Group Runs:  Weekly runs as a group to work on community projects. 

GoodGym is a new model of voluntary action that focuses on the experiences of volunteers and runners. Because it fits into people’s lives it’s easier for them to commit for the longer term.

Problem to Solve

Coach runs are the mutually beneficial pairing of runners, who need be motivated to exercise, with older people (coaches), who would benefit from a weekly visit.

For coach runs, how to improve communication between runners and their pre-digital coaches (older people). 

 

Tasks

Identify core needs and motivations of all stakeholders, co-design potential solutions, define primary features and user scenarios. Develop and user test digital prototypes for viability with the community.

  • User Research
  • Co-Design Workshops
  • Onboarding Flow
  • Mockups
  • Functional Prototype
  • User Testing (in-the-wild)

Solution

Using co-design methodologies, build an app that supports and enhances communication around coach/runner weekly visits through core functions of scheduling, messaging and tracking the runner’s journey.

Results

Communication and engagement arounds visits improved for both parties. Older people (coaches) evolved from skeptical non-users to become engaged users of digital tools.


User Research

After conducting a series of interviews with runners, coaches and staff, I analyzed the data to identify two key issues that needed to be addressed:

Uncertainty: When runner or coach would miss and visit without notifying their partner. The other party would worry about their welfare of their respective coach or runner.

Irrelevant: Coaches did not view digital tools as needed in their lifestyle and owning digital tools did not translate into adoption. Most coaches possessed mobile phones given to them by family or carers. However, none of them used the mobile phones, they were abandoned in the home.

“Oh right. A friend came by and invited me out to dinner. I went and forgot she was coming”.

“I got [a mobile phone] for her for emergencies. But she just sticks in a cupboard somewhere.”

“At the phone store, I asked about the screen phones. The fellow kept saying I was too old and it would be too hard for me to use.”

Co-Design

Through the co-designing workshops the runners, coaches and staff identified the need for an app that supported scheduling visits, sending messages and tracking the runner’s journey. Significantly, the coaches led the app discussion through first identifying digital picture frames and then conceiving of a “magic picture frame” that would allow them to see journey of their runner.

User Stories

Developed a series of user stories from the perspective of all stakeholders: administration, runners and coaches. 

As GoodGym I want to be notified when a runner completes a visit to a coach.

As a runner, I want to receive messages from my coach while I am on holiday.

As a coach, I want to be able to know my runner got home safely after our visit.

Functional Prototypes

Developed a series of functional prototypes to demonstrate and test the core functionality of the app with both runners (mobile) and coaches (tablet). 

User Testing (in-the-wild)

The runners and coaches used the prototypes over four months to support their visits and other interests related to their everyday life.  The feedback was used to inform iterative changes and adjustments to the interface design and functionality. The coaches used tablets on mobile networks as they did not have internet access in their homes.


Results

A trusted virtual space for students, teachers and administrator to share skills, and foster personal expression community wide.

The GoodGym app proved to be beneficial to both runners and coaches in the intended functions:

Improved communication and notification of changes to scheduled visits

Improved communication between visit through sharing images and messages

Improved support for runners training through tracking runs to coach’s home

 

Above and Beyond

Within four weeks of being introduced to the GoodGym app, the coaches were learning and using other apps to support their interests and lifestyle. Some of the coaches became digital advocates for their peers creating digital skill sharing groups. The core takeaway, that is often overlooked, is that one must self-identify a meaningful benefit to invest and sustain usage of a digital tool.

I have published papers about this work in conferences.

Gameful Systems: Play in the digital age for young and old

Vulnerability: Participatory Design, Older People and Researchers