It was 2009 when New York-based personal trainer Kenneth Yim remembered refusing to remove his shirt because he was embarrassed by his overweight, unshapely physique. Yim’s friend, Dana Zilber, a 2004 graduate of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, felt motivated to help her friend achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Over the next six months, Zilber advised Yim as he transformed his body by tracking meals and recording workouts. But she soon noticed that one of the keys of Yim’s success was sharing his journey with friends on Facebook.
Since then, Zilber and Yim have wanted to help people worldwide achieve similar health and fitness success. They spent the next three years brainstorming ways to help people get fit with the support of a community working towards the same goal. The product of their efforts was fitID.
Launched at the beginning of January, the smartphone app is a free fitness application that allows users to track their weight-loss progress, discover fitness resources and share their fitness goals with Facebook friends and the fitID community.
“If you look at the fitness culture today, we are all iPod warriors,” Zilber said. “We put on our headphones, we hop on a treadmill and we don’t want anyone to talk to us. We [have] developed this disconnected fitness culture, and it doesn’t have to be this way.”
FitID is available online and on iOS and Android devices. The application uses a news feed feature, similar to Facebook’s news feed. When fitID users upload photographs and descriptions of their diet and exercise choices, the updates instantly appear on the fitness feed. Other users can like, comment on and learn from the information provided in the posts. The app also offers users the option to connect through Facebook and Twitter.
“FitID fosters a sense of community among its members because it’s all based on common interests, gyms, training programs, diets, trainers and products,” Yim said.
Unlike other fitness applications that rely on a gadget or focus on a specific style of training, fitID allows marathon runners, weight lifters and yogis alike to store their data and track their progress regardless of the activity.
Roberto Martinez, 35, a resident of Albuquerque, N.M., has lost 17 pounds within the first five weeks of using the app. Martinez, who has struggled throughout his life to find a healthy weight and fit lifestyle, said joining the fitID community has renewed his motivation and self-confidence.
“The knowledge they’ve shared, moral support they’ve given, and witnessing progress towards their own goals has been invaluable,” Martinez said. “Today, for the first time in a long while, I can be as fit as I want to be. As long as I continue to work hard, document my meals, workouts and progress … I will achieve my goals.”
GSAS first-year student Adam Lehrer said fitID would provide him and other students with ways to perfect fitness and health routines.
“It [would be] an easy to way to learn how to hit different muscle groups, how to condition and how to eat the right things that will improve your progress,” Lehrer said.
By using fitID, students hold themselves accountable in a social community that is fun, engaging, interactive and free.
“If you focus on three things, tracking your meals, workouts and progress, and you do it in a socially accountable way like fitID, you’re bound to achieve results,” Zilber said.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 4 print edition. Alena Hall is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]