FitnessBuddy: Linking Newcomers to Fitness Friends

CSE 440 Staff
6 min readNov 27, 2023

By Ray Oh, Clarence Muchina, Chien Le, Aaminah Alam

Problem and Solution Overview:

Relocating to a new city can be an exciting but challenging experience, often involving the daunting task of establishing a social network and adapting to an unfamiliar environment. This transition can pose particular difficulties in maintaining a fitness routine. FitnessBuddy serves as a comprehensive solution for newcomers seeking to stay active. Beyond being merely an app, it functions as a community builder, connecting individuals with like-minded sports enthusiasts and providing a platform for collaborative workout routines and social interaction.

Design Research Goals, Stakeholders, and Participants:

Our design research journey commenced by empathizing with our target users: young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 who have recently relocated to a new city. We conducted surveys and interviews at locations frequently visited by newcomers, including gyms, parks, and sports clubs. The objective was to gain insight into their challenges, requirements, and technology preferences. This approach was deemed suitable because genuine solutions arise from understanding the real needs and experiences of the end-users. Furthermore, we recognized the value of involving secondary stakeholders in the fitness ecosystem, such as fitness trainers and sports clubs, to gain a comprehensive perspective.

Design Research Results and Themes:

The results of our design research illuminated several intriguing insights and coalesced into overarching themes that significantly influenced our design process. We began by profiling our participants, who predominantly consisted of young adults with diverse fitness interests and varying durations of residence in their new areas. Despite their differences, they all shared the common struggle of adapting to their new environments, both socially and in terms of maintaining fitness routines.

One of the salient themes that emerged from our research was the dual challenge of adjusting to a new environment and finding like-minded Individuals. Each participant, being a recent newcomer to their respective cities, expressed the difficulty they faced in integrating into their new communities and the arduous task of discovering individuals with similar fitness interests, skill levels, and availability. This difficulty hampered their ability to engage in their preferred fitness activities, highlighting the need for a platform that simplifies the process of connecting with like-minded fitness enthusiasts in unfamiliar surroundings.

Another prominent theme was the desire for community and technology as a solution, which organically emerged as we delved deeper into our participants’ experiences. We discovered that, beyond their passion for physical activity, there was an underlying yearning for a sense of community and belonging. Participants identified fitness partners or groups as potential sources of this desired community and, significantly, shared a unanimous belief in technology’s potential to address these challenges effectively. This collective faith in the power of technology underscored the role of an app as a bridge for fostering connections among fitness enthusiasts in a new city.

In addition to these themes, we identified the intertwined challenges of awareness, motivation, and convenience as crucial factors influencing our design. Several participants revealed their limited awareness of existing sports and fitness apps, leading them to abstain from using these tools. Motivation and time constraints emerged as significant hurdles, with some participants finding it laborious to invest the required time and effort in locating suitable fitness partners. Convenience emerged as a pivotal factor, with participants expressing their desire for an app that is user-friendly and efficient, providing local matches without the need for extensive outreach or data input. These themes and challenges underscored the importance of specific features such as geolocation-based activity suggestions, matchmaking algorithms, detailed user profiles, and chat/messaging functionality, which our participants deemed crucial for the success of our design.

Sketching the Future of Fitness Connectivity

Envision with us: You open FitnessBuddy and you’re greeted not by stats or figures, but by faces, inspirational messages, potential workout buddies in your vicinity. Your profile isn’t just a log of workouts; it’s a tapestry of your fitness journey, shared interests, and upcoming group activities.

Our sketch above outlines a user journey that begins with the home screen being the launchpad for the FitnessBuddy experience, showcasing a motivational quote and quick access to key functionalities. Here, users can set their fitness goals, represented by easily navigable cards, fostering immediate engagement and a sense of progress. It then Transitions to the ‘Find Partners’ tab, where users are presented with a geolocation-enabled map pinpointing available workout buddies. Tapping on a user reveals more information, allowing for swift connection with partners who share similar fitness objectives, thus simplifying the task of finding nearby fitness partners. Then there’s the ‘Groups’ tab that lists various fitness groups that users can explore. Each group is detailed with its activity focus and member count, providing a straightforward pathway for users to immerse themselves in the fitness community by creating or joining groups that resonate with their fitness journey. Lastly, within the ‘Schedule’ tab, users find a personal calendar where they can effortlessly plan and coordinate workouts. Dots indicate days with scheduled workouts, and users can send or accept workout invitations, ensuring that scheduling workouts with partners is a collaborative and harmonized process.

Why FitnessBuddy? Why These Tasks?

We didn’t just choose FitnessBuddy; it chose us through the voices of those yearning for a fitness connection in a new city. The tasks of finding fitness partners and scheduling workouts emerged not just critical but essential for a demographic that values social fitness experiences.

This isn’t about lifting the heaviest weight; it’s about lifting each other’s spirits through shared goals and sweat. It’s about creating an app experience that feels less like a utility and more like a community. FitnessBuddy isn’t just another app on your phone; it’s the friend that encourages you to lace up your sneakers and explore your new city, one workout at a time.

The FitnessBuddy Experience: A Storyboard Journey

With our research and the valuable insights gathered from our participants, we embarked on the journey of translating these findings into a tangible vision for our design. To illustrate how our proposed solution would come to life and address the real-life challenges and desires of our target audience, we created a storyboard that encapsulates the user experience within the FitnessBuddy app.

The storyboard above allows us to envision a scenario where our design seamlessly integrates with the daily lives of our users and enhances their fitness journey in a new city.

Our commitment is to refine FitnessBuddy into a beacon for the fitness community. It’s for the early morning joggers, the after-work gym-goers, and everyone in between. With your support, FitnessBuddy will transform the way newcomers find their fitness group/community, one buddy at a time.

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CSE 440 Staff

University of Washington Computer Science, Intro to Human Computer Interaction