Timothy R. Olsen


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USU Campus Recreation partners with Plyo app to reward students, gain insights

Plyo app screen

LOGAN— During the summer of 2020, the Campus Recreation department at Utah State University partnered with the Plyo fitness app to bring its abilities to the USU campus. Since the program's launch in August, nearly 1,300 students have registered on the app that aims to “make fitness fun.”

Targeted specifically to college campuses, Plyo is an app that allows users to earn points for spending time at the gym. Those points can then be redeemed for offers and gift cards for items such as protein, gym clothing and other things that help promote a healthy lifestyle.

Adam McClanahan, USU's Competitive Sports Graduate Assistant, was the driving force behind bringing Plyo to Logan and has been pleased by the app's usage so far – even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When I heard about (Plyo), I thought they'd be great to bring to USU,” McClanahan said. “We are always looking for new ways to reward our students and to encourage them to be active and use our facilities. The program cost us nothing in the partnership but has allowed us to offer an extra reward that (students) weren't getting before.”

Campus Recreation has partnered with Dining Services to offer students an opportunity to redeem points for rewards right on campus. McClanahan said other popular rewards include raffles for gift cards from places like Amazon, Gymshark, Lululemon, Starbucks and Chipotle.

And, while the rewards are a nice perk for students for participating in activities they were already doing, the data gathered by Campus Recreation so far has been very insightful.

In the past, they've had students check into buildings like the Aggie Recreation Center (ARC) and Fieldhouse, but haven't tracked when they leave (though, that has changed in the ARC during the COVID-19 pandemic), so they had no idea how much time students were spending in these facilities. Similarly, the Legacy Fields and HPER (Health and Physical Education & Recreation) building are reservable spaces, but there is no check-in or check-out function at the individual student level.

Use of the Plyo app has allowed Campus Recreation to designate not only buildings like the ARC and Fieldhouse, but also areas like Legacy Fields, as workout areas. When students that are registered on the app use these areas, that use is tracked on their phones. Campus Recreation can then use that data to understand the use of its facilities and the patterns of USU's students.

For example, from the data gathered so far, students spend an average time of 64 minutes in the ARC, 84 minutes in the HPER and 69 minutes on Legacy Fields. The Fieldhouse is currently closed for reconditioning, so no data has been gathered at that location yet.

Plyo app

“With the Aggie Legacy Fields, we don't do check-ins or check-outs for those, so that's something where it's always hard to gauge open recreation time and total users, so (Plyo) is a completely new way of tracking that,” McClanahan said. “We've only ever been able to track reservations — like intramurals and club sports mainly — so usage of that facility (Legacy Fields) has been completely new data that we've been able to acquire and we can use that moving forward.”

Along with the on-campus functionality, Plyo has also created ways for students to earn rewards for being active even if they're not on campus or not able to make use of on-campus facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once they're registered through USU, students can connect their smart watch and earn bonus points for daily steps (8,000) or through maintaining an elevated heartrate for at least 30 minutes. Students can even request local gyms or park areas be designated as workout areas through the app. If approved, they can earn points by spending time there as well.

McClanahan said he expects the program to continue to grow as more students become aware of the app and earn rewards.

“Hopefully we'll be able to keep sharing and keep growing and people that have been using the app will tell their friends and it'll grow kind of through that grassroots word of mouth,” he said.

Writer: Timothy R Olsen | timothy.olsen@usu.edu