App that rewards users for working out is looking to expand

Plyo has seen an increase of more than 1,300 users since the new year.

Norah Kleven

An exercise reward app created by current and former University of Minnesota students is looking to expand to other universities. 

Plyo rewards points to users for time spent at the University’s Recreation and Wellness Center, Fieldhouse, St. Paul Gym and the URW Sports Field Complex. Users automatically accrue points when they are in the virtual geo-fenced perimeter of these facilities. With the points, users can access coupons for area restaurants and businesses. The app officially launched in September, and since the new year the app has seen a 1,371-person increase in users as of Monday, Feb. 25. 

“Going into college, I was looking for a way to help students form healthier lifestyles,” said Peter Schultze, co-founder of the app and a part-time third-year student studying entrepreneurial management. 

Earlier this month, Plyo launched at the University of St. Thomas and has already gained traction there with 2,637 members as of Monday, Feb. 25. 

Schultze said the idea for the app developed over time. After enrolling in a University entrepreneurship class and researching the effects of physical exercise on happiness and performance in school, he wanted to find a way to help people maintain their fitness. 

“We think … the key to forming healthy habits is making it something that’s easy and fun,” Schultze said.

Justin Buhl, a 25-year-old former University student, was responsible for programming the app. 

Students only have to be in the geo-fenced area to earn points, which allows people to earn points when they are merely hanging out or studying at the RecWell, Buhl and Schultze said. In addition, students are more likely to exercise when they study at the RecWell rather than in their dorms. 

Schultze and Buhl said when creating the point system they wanted rewards to be achievable to the average college student.

“[With] a lot of other fitness apps, you have to work out an ungodly amount to get points, and then the reward is so far off that nobody is going to stick to that,” Schultze said. “We really wanted to make it so that anybody, even somebody who’s not an active gym-goer, can go to the gym and start exercising and get a reward quickly.” 

Users earn 50 points per hour and double that if they are accompanied by a friend. Rewards can cost anywhere from 100 points for the lesser valued coupons to 700 for more coveted rewards.

Recent rewards additions include Starbucks, Crisp & Green and online Minnesota clothing brands. Other popular businesses that have partnered with Plyo include Punch Pizza, Chipotle, Subway, Erbert & Gerbert’s and the University Bookstore. 

Buhl said user location data is not stored by Plyo.

Caleb Petersen is a first-year student who has been using the app since its official launch in September. “It’s particularly beneficial to college students because discounts and saving money is definitely essential at our age,” said Petersen.

Maggie Vlasaty, a third-year student studying sports management, found the app through a Facebook ad in the fall and has been using it on average three times a week since then. 

Schultze and Buhl said they hope to expand the app to other universities and see the operation of Plyo in the Twin Cities as a launchpad for taking their business nationwide. Until then, the pair are focused on bringing new businesses with exclusive rewards to users in the Twin Cities. 

Schultze and Buhl said the app is nearing 8,000 users, a mile marker which Schultze expects to hit within the coming days. 

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated that Plyo stores location data. Plyo does not keep any information regarding user location.