Rith. Work. Etc.

😬 I’m currently reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, learning how to sew, and building a recipe database that can be sorted by food texture, cleaning effort, and cooking method.

Say hi!

(something like this,
in a nine-square grid)

REPlus is an integrated fitness app that builds a healthy habit of eating, exercising, and sleeping simultaneously with a fundamental belief that all three need to be fully synchronized.

Client: Undisclosed startup
Team: Lead Product Designer (I work directly with the founder)
Role: Sole Contributor, User/Market Research, Concept & Design Development, Design System

Integrated vs. Isolated
___Pain points
The integration of eating, exercising, and sleeping is essential to build a sustainable healthy habit. Yet, most of the fitness/wellness apps on the market now focus on each aspect solely as opposed to a more holistic approach a personal fitness/nutritionist coach could provide. There’s still a huge gap between fitness app and in-person coach, in term of cost and effectiveness. REPlus aims to bridge that gap and makes sustainable fitness habit more accessible to people.

Gym, Kitchen,
& Bed

There is a strong correlation between the gym and the kitchen, whether it is about muscle building or losing weight. As we burn calories and stressing, tearing muscle in the gym, the kitchen is where our body fuels the energy for performance and rebuilds the muscle tissue to be stronger. The other component to this is sleep. A neuroscientist and sleep researcher, Dr. Matt Walker argues in his book Why We Sleep, that sleep is, in fact, the foundation needed to support exercising and healthy eating. Eating, sleeping, and exercising are the three points in an equilateral triangle that is crucial to build a sustainable healthy fitness habit.

Cross-reference data
REPlus follows the simple principle that guides the relationship between exercising, sleeping, and eating: energy consumption and energy expenditure, or calories in and calories out. This principle organizes the app’s structure, simplifying the user’s interaction and expediting the user flow. In the same fashion as a compound workout and MACRO food tracking, information presented on the app focuses on overall performance, providing clear tracking systems and breaking down each component in a digestible interface.

The most active use of the app happens during a workout session, when user logs in different exercises, reps and sets, weights, and timing. However, the effectiveness of one’s routine is built on the foundation of the other two components, sleeping and eating. Logged data from all three components are used to analyzed and customized the experience of each one. For example, the decrease in sleep quality may result in lowering the intensity of a workout session. Longer and more intense workout session yields higher calories intake demand. The design of the app reflects this interconnectedness. When user is active in one component of the app, the other two components give quick bite-size information to clearly provide an overview of their overall performance.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition,
___UX Design
To build a long-lasting habit, consistency is key. While the user being active on the app accounts for several minutes at a time, somewhere between 1%-9% of the time throughout the day, the real success of building a sustainable habit lies when the app is being passive in the background. Thus, the user experience design focuses not only when one is actively using the app, but also when they are not.

User experience journey is categorized into three stages: 1. Pre-activity, 2. During, and 3. Post-activity. The activity being workout time, meal, and sleep time. An in-app notification board provides a complete schedule of activities throughout the day.

"Pre-activity" employs positive reinforcement as a means to motivate user about an upcoming activity.

"During" focuses on the specific task at hand, be it logging in food items, setting time in between workout sets, or activating sleep. It will only cross-reference direct affected data from the other components -for example, while being active in your workout interface, the app also tells you how much sleep you had the night before, and how long ago your last meal was -information that directly affects your workout performance.

"Post-activity" rewards you with an achievement summary of your performance after your workout, when you log in your meal, and after you wake up. It will loop back to "Pre-activity" should there be an upcoming activity in your schedule.

Both Pre-activity and Post-activity stages are designed to be subtle quiet notifications. The goal is to create a consistent routine by providing gentle reminders according to your schedule.

Base on our survey with personal trainers and avid gym-goers, more than 50% prefer handwritten notes as a way to track their workout. Some have even developed their own workout spreadsheet to be printed and use for each session at the gym. Three main reasons that they prefer this method over existing apps are:
1. Ability to edit/scratch out/substitute/re-order workout on the go base on what is available at the gym, at the moment
2. The ease of personalizing their routine
3. Decrease distraction from looking at the phone

When asked what are missing from their current method of tracking, three mains things showed up:
1. Ability to record and compare their progress over time
2. Still having to use their phone for timing
3. Trying new workouts, having to search for workout tutorials

Interestingly, a larger percentage of new gym members lean more favorably towards using an app as they need more guidance.

The development of REPlus combines what people like in their handwritten method with what the app could provide that handwritten spreadsheet could not.

1. Building blocks: each exercise can be combined easily to build a routine. This allows for customization prior to and during a workout. It also provides more guidance to those who are new to working out.

2. Built-in record: as the logged data from each session is stored, it is easy to compare the progress over time. It is also built in with timers and workout tutorial, eliminating the need to jump back and forth between multiple apps.

3. Compound interface: information is presented when it directly affects the specific performance, eliminating distraction. The information is categorized into three levels: High level -showing what workout routine is scheduled for today, with a quick breakdown of what is in the routine, and a brief comparison to one’s personal best. Mid level -looking into each exercise's weight, rep, and set goals. Low level -detail information about each exercise, active and rest time, previous history of the exercise, its activated muscle group, and video tutorial.

REPlus food tracking is not about tracking every calorie you’re consuming, but providing a structure in which you can quickly add what you’re eating or plan to eat in order to evaluate your eating habit and build long-term healthy consumption. The app gives you accountability and record of your progress.

Like workout-tracking, it also follows the same three principles:

1. Building blocks: depending on your time and desire, you can build your food block from ingredients by creating your own recipe, to adding quick food from REPlus database, or scanning food items by their barcode.

2. Built-in record: as you log in your food, REPlus calculates your calorie intake, and how much more you need. Your record can also be used as your personal recipe book and a food diary.

3. Compound interface: again with the three levels of information: High level -showing how much more calories intake you need, quickly breaking down the carbs, protein, fat percentage. Mid level -looking into the previous record for comparison. Low level -detail information on your meal, what you’ve eaten, their ingredients, and MACRO breakdown.

Sleep component of REPlus tracks the four stages of sleep: REM, light sleep, deep sleep, and awake. It gives a comprehensive analysis of your sleep quality that will inform your workout performance and appetite. When you’re ready to sleep or when you’re awake, the interface of REPlus diverges from the rest and slips into a soothing background -a simple touch to activate sleep recording, and another when you wake up.

The building blocks of your personal habit in exercising, sleeping, and eating begin when you’re onboarding onto the app. You provide your current habit and goal that you want to achieve. Based on the provided information, REPlus recommends a baseline to start, which you can further adjust as need be.

Research, Content,
& Design

The project begins with research on how to build a sustainable habit between exercising, eating, and sleeping. This quickly leads to the realization that all three need to be synchronized. Thus, the app's content is structured as such, building upon the interconnectedness of the three. Naturally, the design of the app follows the same principle. When I began working on the project, I didn’t immediately see this meta-relationship between what’s found in the research that drives the content and then lends itself to become a design principle. In retrospect, this relationship is the backbone that drives the project through all the different phases.