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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)


Every new year comes with the same old resolution for most of America.

It almost always comes with the same result, too.

Last year, for the umpteenth consecutive year, losing weight and getting in shape were the clear No. 1s in the goals for most Americans.

According to a survey, almost 80 percent of responders failed on that goal.

Ringing in a healthy 2018 for Chattanoogans could be a collective -- and in some ways easier -- goal this year.

That's at least what some of the tech hot shots at Spire Labs downtown are hoping.

"People tend to take Jan. 1 as a big moment to transform themselves and reconsider their habits ... but most resolutions don't last," says Jonathan Yagel, vice president at Spire. "One of the very few proven ways to keep up a new activity is to create accountability, and our hope is that Rove will connect people with others and provide the visibility and friendly competition to keep them active throughout the year."

Yagel and the talented folks at Spire developed Rove, the mobile app that allows people to connect individually or with teams to gauge their fitness steps. In short, Rove is rooted in the Fitbit craze but combines a social and community aspect to the exercise.

Rove made its biggest splash in late summer when Mayor Andy Berke announced that the city's health initiative was going digital with the online application.

Those interested can sign up for free by downloading the app in the Apple App Store or the Google Play store. Chattanoogans can go to to join the city-wide league, which is also searchable on Twitter with the hashtag #WeRoveCHA.

"Chattanooga has some of the most beautiful and diverse outdoor resources and access to so many ways to get fit," Berke said when he announced Rove as the online partner for the Get Fit Challenge. "We have an opportunity to set an example for others for what it looks like to be a healthy, active city, and this league will help provide accountability, support and friendly competition to empower Chattanoogans to achieve their health goals."

Rove has roughly 1,000 members in the Chattanooga area alone, according to Yagel, and a large percentage of that group is actively participating in the #WeRoveCHA league. While the precise locations of the various teams and leagues are not calculated, Yagel said there are more than 700 leagues working with and against each other. That includes current and former Chattanoogans counting steps in competition all over the world.

Two of Yagel's favorite Rove stories, though, are right here in Hamilton County.

"We've talked to a lot of our users," he says, and competition is fierce.

He described a group of teachers at a local middle school, who after starting to use Rove together, started pacing the halls to get their steps up. This was happening so frequently that students started wondering what was happening and became intrigued.

The power of that group was matched by the will of one individual Yagel described. Apparently there is a local office space with several tenants and people competing on the Rove app between companies and co-workers. One user, who was a former competitive cross-country runner, doubled his weekly distance to 70 miles just to make sure he locked up the top spot in their group.

That's game-on, and game-over, in the fitness app world. But when it comes to fitness and better health through exercise there are no losers.

It's also part of the process that Yagel and the entire Spire Labs team is happy to be a part of.

"We are definitely excited about the reception Rove has received," he says. "Beyond just the total number of people who have downloaded the product, what really excites us is how much people are consistently using it: about one in four people who have downloaded the app use it every single day, and 50 percent use it at least once per month. That level of consistent use is the clearest indicator to us that we have something that is really impacting people."

Happy New Year indeed.

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December 21, 2017


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