At Utah State University, the Plyo app has been put into action. Adam McClanahan shares how it works and how it’s been received by the students.
In our modern time with increased technological dependence, and especially in the midst of the pandemic, students are seeing things differently. Smartphones have become the student’s personal trainers, dieticians, classrooms, stores, GPS and more. One startup company has been working toward using these increased capabilities to reward students for choosing health and fitness.
That company is Plyo, an app with a mission “to inspire the next generation to live active lifestyles.” It’s a mission that is near and dear to the hearts of all campus recreation professionals. Being a startup, Plyo continues to grow and learn regarding the best way to reach this goal, but what they have done so far here at Utah State University is a great introduction to them and how student-focused reward systems should be developed in the future.
Plyo’s main functions come through their mobile app, available in the Apple and Google Play stores. Students provide access to their GPS on their phones to allow Plyo to reward them with points when they visit campus recreation facilities. Here at Utah State, we have our Aggie Recreation center, Health Physical Education and Recreation building, Fieldhouse, and Outdoor Turf Fields all labeled as facilities for students to be rewarded with points when visiting.
Plyo began by launching at a few Big Ten schools, and operated without much interaction from most recreation departments, but learned through collaboration with the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska Lincoln, that working together with the departments is beneficial for both parties. By collaborating with the departments on marketing, students adopt the app more quickly and the departments can ask for access to statistics which can be used in many ways that are beneficial in end-of-year reports and more.
Here at Utah State, we have just surpassed 1,000 users in just under three months of the app going live. We have seen the largest growth through tabling at special events, posting it on our Campus Recreation Instagram and strategically positioning pop-up banners graciously provided to us by Plyo.
We have been able to see students on average are using our Aggie Recreation Center for 61 minutes at a time through statistics provided by the Plyo team. Before Plyo provided this data, we collected the total number of check ins to our facility but could not systematically see how long students were using our facilities. This data will help us make more accurate estimations as to how many users we have in our facilities at a time.
Points are awarded to students based on the time they spend in our facilities. Points can be exchanged for discounts with partnered fitness-based brands, gift card raffles, special giveaways and more on the app. Recreation departments can also offer rewards through the Plyo app. Our recreation facility offers a free guest pass for students who turn in 500 points, which is a $5 value.
Students’ most popular local discount is used at Nekter Juice Bar where students can use 100 points for 10% off, 300 points for a “buy three get one free” to-go drinks, 300 points for $2 off any bowl or for 500 points $5 off a cleanse.
Students can earn points from a variety of exciting brands as well:
Dining Services on campus has also partnered with Plyo to offer rewards After a meeting with our Campus Recreation department marketing team, Dining Services saw the value in rewarding students for being active as well as the ability to promote their block meal plans and on-campus offerings in a whole new way. Dining services has been able to provide a free meal in one of the dining halls for students who redeem 600 points with them.
Plyo is constantly growing and adapting to challenges and constraints created by the pandemic. Not only has Plyo begun to reward students for their daily steps and increased heart rates during workouts, they are also allowing students to submit their local gyms or parks to be marked as GPS workout spaces, as many university recreation centers have yet to reopen their doors. The goal for the company is to reward students for being active and bettering themselves through exercise wherever they are in the coming months, until they are able to spend time in their on-campus facilities.
Plyo came to us as a free resource for our department to help promote and encourage health and fitness on campus. Our students love using the platform to help them live a healthier lifestyle, but also for the rewards from corporate partnerships that give students discounts to health and wellness brands that continue the cycle of positive reinforcement, building a healthier generation one student and one point at a time.