Helping Young Adults Exercise Regularly


Throughout my 2-month stay in On-Off Group, I was able to learn about the different parts of the design process through client work and lessons from the members of the UX team. I was tasked to create a personal UX project to help me consolidate and apply all that I learned. Through this project, I was able to identify a research problem, conduct user interviews, practice note-taking, create personas, conceptualize a mobile application, and create a high-fidelity prototype called The Daily Drill.

The Problem

Compared to the normal setting where we are required to walk from one place to another to complete tasks, the pandemic gave us no choice but to stay at home and sit in front of our screens for most of the day. Fortunately, working out at home became a popular trend in the quarantine. Youtubers—such as Chloe Ting, MadFit, and Blogilates—gained more viewers and subscribers because of their promising challenges and easy-to-follow home workouts. Although a lot of people have hopped on this trend, most went back to their sedentary lifestyles after some time.

Self-discipline and consistent motivation play a big role in maintaining a regular exercise routine. When a workout challenge finishes or when other priorities start to take over, people tend to lose their motivation to exercise. I personally found it difficult to stay consistent with working out, especially when I started online learning and got my first internship. From allocating a specific time of my day to exercise, I ended up exercising only when I felt like it. It became more and more difficult to push myself to get up and move until I completely stopped exercising.

Using the Design Thinking approach, I framed the problem into a How Might We statement:

How might we encourage people to be more consistent with exercising?

The Research Objectives

In order to learn more about how to solve the problem, I have set the following objectives for this study:

  • Understand how people perceive “regular exercise” and their usual exercise practices
  • Identify what motivates people to start and to continue exercising
  • Identify and address pain points that prevent people from exercising

The Interviews

Given some time constraints, I limited the scope of this research to young adults, specifically those within 18 to 25 years old. The people in this age group are often busy due to their responsibilities in school and transitioning to adulthood. Despite the busyness, I believe that this age would be the best time for people to practice making time and to develop consistency in exercise that they would hopefully carry forward as they fully transition to the adult lifestyle.

The following criteria was used in helping me screen the participants for the user interviews:

  • Must be living in the Philippines
  • Must be either a college student or a young professional is his/her first 1-3 years of employment
  • Must not be going through any required training for a sport
  • Must be allowed or physically able to participate in regular exercise

In a span of two weeks, I interviewed 7 students and 5 young professionals. These students were all going through online learning with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous classes, while all the young professionals had output-based work schedules. This means that all participants had control of most of their time in a day.

I also decided to interview two types of personas: those who already engage in regular exercise and those who inconsistently exercise or don’t exercise at all. Among the 12 participants that I had, 7 of them exercised regularly while the remaining 5 did not.

The Research Findings

To analyze the data that I gathered from my interviews, I used the Affinity Mapping Method through the online whiteboard, Miro.


The findings from the user interviews show that all participants describe regular exercise as having a consistent routine. It did not matter how many times they would exercise in a week as long as they stay consistent with that frequency. Interestingly, they also described someone who exercises regularly as what seems to be a perfect person. This perfect individual was often described as organized, disciplined, intentional, physically fit, and mentally happy.

In terms of exercise practices, the average exercise time for all participants is 45 mins. However, most said that it’s not about the duration, but more on the impact or intensity of the workout. One participant mentioned that  7 minutes can be considered enough given some level of intensity, while some shared that they feel satisfied with the workout once they get to sweat.

Most participants refer to YouTube when exercising because of its accessibility, easy-to-follow videos, and credibility of the content makers. One participant mentioned that she preferred Youtube videos over tutorial videos from workout apps. She described tutorial videos from workout apps as robotic while watching YouTube videos seemed more personal as if the YouTuber was working out with you. Another participant also pointed out that he often relies on the comments, ratings, and number of ratings to determine the workout’s credibility since he wanted to make sure that his time would not be wasted on something ineffective.

More than half of the participants also liked tracking or recording their progress. Seeing their improvements across time periods and looking back on how much they have done make them feel as if their efforts are not wasted. Some check their progress and records to give them a sense of fulfillment, while a few also mentioned that they chose to share this data with friends for accountability.

When asked what pushes them to start exercising, many say that they start exercising when they feel inactive for too long or when they feel conscious about their body. Those same reasons keep some participants going, but most of those who exercise regularly get motivated when they feel a sense of fulfillment such as achieving a goal or discovering that they can do a certain move with their body. In addition to those reasons, all participants mentioned that knowing and experiencing the benefits of exercise also serve as motivators to both start and continue exercising. On the other hand, time is the most common blocker for all participants. This includes the amount of time spent on an exercise session and conflicts with schedule. Participants expressed that exercise time—including changing into workout clothes and freshening up after—takes up so much of their day. They get discouraged because they feel as if they should be spending their time getting work done instead of exercising.

The Personas

Using the data from the user interviews, I was able to come up with three personas.


Another way to interpret the personas is by seeing them as phases in one’s fitness journey. Someone can start off as a Conscious Connie and slowly move towards becoming a Fitspo Sophie. Similarly, a Fitspo Sophie may also have the tendency to move back to a Conscious Connie if she continues to be discouraged. Anti-Couch Potato Patty seems to be the middle ground between the first and the last persona in terms of consistency with exercise. I decided to make Anti-Couch Potato Patty my chosen persona since targeting her needs may  make the solution applicable to the other two personas as well.

The Solution

After going through the data from my research and identifying my target persona, I decided to base the concept of my solution on my biggest insight which was:

Users tend to relate exercise with habits or routines. They start becoming inconsistent with exercise when their routine gets disrupted.  

I wanted to create an app that would help build the habit of exercise within its users. To better help me with ideation, I reframed my How Might We statement into:

How might we encourage young adults to build and maintain the habit of exercising?

I decided to make use of both my insights from the interviews and the ideas presented by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits to guide me in making my features.

According to James Clear, the first step in building a habit is to start by making the habit very small and easy so that you can’t say no. I connected this with insights from the user interviews which were:

  1. Users want to be able to save time in an exercise session
  2. Users easily push back exercise time when there are schedule conflicts

Participants mentioned that it sometimes takes long for them to choose workout videos given the several options that YouTube displays after searching. To help them save time, I created a feature that would recommend workouts to the user based on their preference for the day. Users just have to input the amount of time that they have, and their choice of workout type, focus, equipment and level, then the app will recommend the top 3 workout videos based on the information given. The time slider also shows that they can ask for a good workout as short as 5 minutes to remove the notion that they have to spend 45 minutes to an hour every day. To mitigate schedule conflicts, I also decided to include an option to integrate the app with Google calendar. Through this, the app will be able to notify the user in advance if an event conflicts with the reminder time and they can easily set up a new time for that day.

Another concept introduced by James Clear is the Paper Clip Strategy. This strategy shows how visual cues work effectively in building habits as they (1) remind you to start a behavior, (2) display your progress on a behavior, (3) can create an addictive effect on motivation, and (4) can be used to drive short-term and long-term motivation. I was able to connect this with another insight that I got from my user interviews which was:

Users get motivated when they see that they have done a lot.

I decided to make use of streaks as the app’s visual cue, similar to those used in Snapchat and Duolingo. I also created a Daily Log and a My Stats page to help the user in tracking progress. The Daily Log allows the user to see the workouts that they have done for the day, while the My Stats page contains visual graphs that show statistics on the amount of days, amount of time, and types of workouts that they have done.

I added other features to my app based on suggestions from the user interviews. The other features included workout video tutorials, scheduled workouts, sort and filter options and social media app integrations so they can share their progress with their friends.

Given the limited time that I had, I used the MoSCow Prioritization framework and the Red Routes analysis to determine what features would be necessary for my minimum viable product.


Through the MoSCow Prioritization, I was able to see which features I should focus on more and which ones I can save for future iterations. On the other hand, the Red Routes analysis did not only validate my feature prioritization but also helped me map out the expected user flow of my minimum viable product. Doing this helped me save time and stay on track as I was making my prototype.

The Prototype

After figuring out the needed features for my MVP, I used the design tool Figma to create a prototype of my solution. The figma file can be accessed through this link:


One thing I learned while prototyping is the importance of feedback and iterations. The two sets of screens above are the first drafts that I made for my prototype. Through the help of feedback from the  UX team and some tips in the book Refactoring UI by Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger, I was able to improve my prototype to make it more user-friendly. The following screens below are the final draft of my prototype.

Upon opening the app for the first time, the user will be asked to input their name, pick a preferred reminder time, and sync their Google Calendar. I decided to ask for these data only since other personal information will not be necessary for the app. After that, the user will be introduced to the concept of Active Rest Days and will be asked for their preference on this. I decided to include this in the sign up phase to immediately address the possible concern that the user may have with the idea of working out every day. To avoid burnout, the app will remind the user to take an active rest day and will adjust the workout recommendations accordingly.

When the user clicks a reminder notification and opens the app, they will be greeted with the Home Tab where they can input the amount of time they have for today’s session, along with other preferences such as workout type, equipment, level and focus. I decided to put this feature in the home page so that the user can avoid getting distracted with other features that might make them spend more time than necessary. When the Find Workouts button is clicked, the user will be given top 3 workouts based on the inputted data. The user can learn more about each workout by clicking on it and can start the video by clicking the play button. Once the video finishes, the user will be asked if they want to do another workout or end the session.

If the user chooses to do another workout, they will be led to the Discover Tab. The Discover Tab landing page gives the user the option to browse workouts by type or focus area and also includes recommendations based on their previous workout. On the other hand, if the user chooses to end the session, they will gain their streak for the day and can do any of the following actions: (1) share their progress on their social media, (2) go to Daily Log, or (3) close the app.

However, in case of a schedule conflict in the next day, a notification will pop out as soon as the user finishes their session. They will be given the option to set a new reminder time just for next day or to keep the original as is.

The Daily Log Tab and My Stat Tab are optional steps to the user flow. In the Daily Log, the user can see their total workout time for the day and the workouts they have completed. To see the completed workouts for other days, the user can simply click any date with a shaded circle on the calendar. An unshaded date means that the user did not do any workout thus breaking the streak. For the My Stats Tab, I decided to limit the screen to two graphs at a time to prevent cognitive overload. Instead of having all graphs out at once, the user can use the toggle buttons to switch from one graph to another.

The Next Steps

Since I was only able to reach the prototype phase during my stay in OOG, my next step would be to conduct usability testing to validate my solution. I hope to get feedback from my target users so I can better understand what works best for them and make improvements in the features, user flow and user interface. I also plan to add other features—such as fitness goal tracker and customized workout plans—to my next iterations to benefit the other personas as well.

Conducting this study made me more curious and excited to see what else I could learn about UX and the design process. I am really grateful to OOG for giving me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and helping me make a step forward in my UX journey.

Julia Bayoneta

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