Proof of Workout began as an April Fool’s joke. “We thought it would be funny to start a rumor that BitPay is developing a miner that runs from mechanical energy powered by your workout,” Emily Vaughn from BitPay told me. But from there, Vaughn liked the name “Proof of Workout” so much that she began thinking of more realistic ideas to combine fitness and Bitcoin. The result? A 30-day fitness challenge that inspired participants to work out and post proof of these workouts on social media. Each week, Proof of Workout announced special challenges and chances to win various prizes, such as a $50 Gyft card to Whole Foods or $25 in gymcoins on Gymnut. The grand prize, awarded to five people, was a $100 Gyft card to Nike.
Although Proof of Workout was competitive, participants also bonded together through mutual interests in fitness and Bitcoin. The overall environment was encouraging – likes on Instagram pictures, retweets on Twitter, and bitcoin tips through ChangeTip.
As I took part in the challenge, I found myself more & more motivated by the response I got from other participants on my Instagram account. I was also inspired to try new workouts during the 30-day period. After all, there were only so many photos I could take of my gym and my tennis shoes. I started taking my workouts to more scenic locations, acquiring a love of hiking in the process.
The Proof of Workout Tumblr showcases the varied approaches to the challenge – detailed graphs break down how & why participants work out. Interestingly, most participants were working toward a lifestyle change (over 50%), rather than weight loss (14%). Among the winners, reasons for joining ranged from “holding myself accountable for staying active every day” (@elysebitpay) to “engaging with others about health and fitness” (@conniegallippi). Check out the Tumblr page for more data, as well as a full list of winners!
After the challenge was finished, I reached out to Emily Vaughn to learn more about her thoughts on Proof of Workout and Bitcoin in general.
Emily Braun: What were the best parts of setting up [Proof of Workout]? The most challenging?
Emily Vaughn: The best part of starting the challenge was seeing everyone’s goals come in. I was blown away by the positivity of the participants. It really inspired my own fitness efforts. The most challenging aspect of setting up the campaign was finding a balance between all the different social media sites. You’d be surprised how manual that process was.
Braun: And what was your favorite part of the competition?
Vaughn: My favorite part of Proof of Workout was seeing the community of challengers run with it and make it their own. Everyone put their own spin on it, and I think that’s what made it fun.
Braun: How did you first learn about Bitcoin?
Vaughn:I first learned about Bitcoin in late 2012, and it took me a year of skeptical observation and at least one bubble before I decided to buy my own. I think part of my apprehension came from not having a solid understanding of how our financial system actually works. My first thoughts were, “Okay, that’s interesting, but it’s really not relevant to my life.” Once I realized that owning bitcoin meant not having to pay someone to secure my money–that I was signing over my wealth to a bank and then paying them for the ability to use it–it was game over. I went all in. That was in September 2013.
Braun: What aspect of Bitcoin is the most interesting to you?
Vaughn: Bitcoin provides a public ledger of ownership. I am very attracted to the idea of using the blockchain to prove ownership and transfer of ownership of my assets–not just currencies, but titles and other properties. I place a lot of importance on self-reliance, and Bitcoin technology enables people to untie themselves from a system of forced dependency.
Braun: Where do you see the future of Bitcoin heading?
Vaughn: I daydream about where this technology is going – for example, Bitcoin providing back-end financial infrastructure in such a way that you and I may not even know we’re using bitcoin in everyday life. Bitcoin providing a new identity verification protocol. Bitcoin replacing auditing and accounting frameworks. Bitcoin eliminating fraud. But that’s just what’s on the horizon. Bitcoin is arguably the most important financial innovation in human history. There’s so much beyond whats currently fathomable that anything seems possible.
– Emily Braun