County partners with fitness app to encourage exercise

By: Thomas Franz | C&G Newspapers | Published October 12, 2016

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MACOMB COUNTY — Macomb County employees and residents are being incentivized to exercise thanks to a new partnership with a smartphone app developed in Royal Oak.

On Oct. 3, the county announced a partnership with CARROT Health and Wellness to expand upon its Healthstyles program.

Previously, county employees had tracked fitness progress by pen and paper. By partnering with CARROT, employees will track their activity on the smartphone app.

“We wanted to find something that was electronic, preferably, that was easier for employees to track their activity,” said Amy Lumetta, a service partner in human resources and labor relations with the county.

The health and wellness program of CARROT began this past January as Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield used it as a test pilot for an employee wellness program. Within a couple of months, the hospital requested to partner with the app to create a program for all of its 25,000 employees.

The CARROT team began meeting with county officials last fall at a conference for the American Heart Association.

“We were thrilled because we had phenomenal engagement and great feedback,” said Mike Murray, a Royal Oak resident and the vice president of CARROT. “They received great feedback, and in less than two months, we were having conversations about how they could launch their program in June, which we did.”

Previously, the app had already been released as a fitness rewards app, and it still functions as one for users who are not affiliated with an employer wellness program through the app.

“It’s based on all of the steps you’ve ever taken with your phone,” Murray said. “The app itself generates a goal that updates every day to drive you to walk just a little bit more than you do typically.”

For now, rewards are based on the number of steps a user takes. Rewards include gift certificates to local stores, as well as national merchants such as Nike and Nordstrom.

By activating their location services on their smartphones, users can be notified when a store that is a CARROT rewards partner is nearby.

“We’re going out to the merchants in Macomb County and seeing if they want to be part of the program as well,” Lumetta said. “There’s no obligation on their end other than if an employee comes in with a gift card, that they honor it. It’s really free advertising and marketing for them as well.”

The app is free for all users, employers and merchants. To date, Murray said there have been about 45,000 downloads of the app in southeastern Michigan.

“We’re excited on a couple different levels. It’s great to launch a product that’s genuinely helping people on a daily basis — that’s extremely gratifying,” Murray said. “The fact that CARROT can be used as a tool to benefit small businesses as well, that’s one of the unique features of our program.”

Over the next six months, CARROT expects to roll out several new features to its app to include any fitness feature that could be reliably tracked with smartphone technology.

Murray also said they are continuing to form new partnerships with more local businesses in order to increase rewards possibilities and decrease the number of steps necessary as price points for gift card redemption.

“It’s a given in the mobile space. You’re constantly trying to make improvements and add features. It’s never done or complete — you’re always looking to make it better,” Murray said.

Macomb County employs roughly 2,500 individuals. Its Healthstyles initiative features exercise classes for after-work hours at a reduced price, an annual health fair and monthly luncheons that feature fitness and health experts.

“We just want everyone to be healthy, happy and active, and to have fun doing it as well,” Lumetta said. 

More information about CARROT is available at CARROTpass.com. To find the CARROT Pass app on the iTunes or Google Play stores, visit onelink.to/carrot.

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