A FITNESS app aimed at getting sports fans off the couch and doing exercise has won funding from the Scottish Government and Nesta and the backing of one of the country’s biggest football teams.
Developed by experts at the University of Salford, Fan Fit allows sports fans to compete with each other to see who has done the most walking and running over a period of time, as well as keep in touch with all the latest news from their favourite team. With heart disease at an all time high in Scotland, Fan Fit allows fans to create a friendly competition between them aligned with their favourite sports club to improve their fitness and wellbeing.
Now Rangers Charity Foundation, supported by Rangers Football Club, has agreed to pilot the first Fan Fit app at a football club. The UK’s innovation foundation Nesta have supported the collaboration between the University, Rangers and the Scottish Football League Trust with a £30k grant as part of their Healthier Lives Data Fund.
Funded by the Scottish Government, the fund offers grants for organisations delivering benefit to communities within Scotland as well as help to develop and test their innovation.
The app contains club information, social media and records walking and running to allow fans to create a friendly competition and win prizes. It has already had an impact with supporters of Salford Red Devils Rugby League club, who were the first sports team to sign up, with fans losing up to three stone in weight since starting to use it.
Dr Alex Fenton, Fan Fit Founder and lecturer in Digital Business at the University of Salford Business School said: “This is a great result for us. Fan Fit started as an idea funded and supported internally through our Technology Transfer office and Industry Collaboration Zones. It’s allowed us to secure this competitive external funding which will be used to develop new functionality and grow the app in the coming months. And a huge Club and Charity, such as Rangers, signing up means we will be able to reach so many more fans and help to engage them whilst they are getting fitter.”
In total since the app launched, over 600 Red Devils fans have downloaded it and signed up and have done around 200 million steps in total. Scotland as a whole recently came near the bottom of league tables for health and fitness, with rates of heart disease and stroke among the highest in the country. Sports clubs in the country believe they could be doing more to combat this, as a duty of care to their fans and Fan Fit could play a huge part in that.
As well as the fitness tracker, step leagues and digital badges, the app provides video, social media and news feeds, and fixtures and results, so fans can keep in touch with the latest club news while keeping fit at the same time.
Sinead MacManus, Senior Programme Manager for Digital Health at Nesta, said: "We are delighted that Fan Fit is one of our grantees on the Healthier Lives Data Fund, and are very excited about this new partnership with Rangers Charity Foundation, supported by Rangers Football Club. In engaging people through a shared interest such as football, people can be encouraged to be more active in a fun and participatory way. Fan Fit is a great example of how data and digital technology can be combined with peer support and gamification to motivate people to move more. The data from the project will also allow us to understand what health interventions work best."