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    Users’ attention spans are getting shorter, but Gul Panag tells us her new fitness app is here for the long haul

    5 am alarm just to lace up for a run? For those of us who would promptly reach for the snooze button, actress and fitness enthusiast, Gul Panag, has a solution that promises to have us hopping out and hitting the road. Panag, who recently launched the tech start-up MobieFit, has come out with her first fitness app, FirstRun. “It is specially designed for non runners. So one of its primary features is that it presumes users can run only a minute when they begin,” she explains, adding, “FirstRun does not focus on speed or distance; instead it encourages people to go out for a set time—with a combination of walking and running.” With multiple-level programmes, real-time distance tracking and an in-built coach (Panag, of course, to ensure that the user’s motivation does not drop through the run), the goal is to help each runner reach his/her level.
    Staying at it
    However, one of the biggest problems with apps is that there is no one around to egg you on when your enthusiasm flags. But Panag assures us, FirstRun is up to the challenge. “The app takes every problem that prevents people from running and provides answers for it. You don’t know how to run? No problem, we have videos to teach you the basics of running form. You start programmes only to abandon them? We send notifications, alerts and reminders to help you stick to your goals. You don’t have a place to run? We have a treadmill mode, with an in-built music player, to address it,” she smiles. In fact, she believes the ‘stickiness’ comes from the experience of progress—when you run further and faster than you have before. “If you get engaged with fitness, this app will keep you involved between 25-75 minutes each day,” she assures us.
    The next step
    While Panag is not looking at wearable tech at the moment (“they are cumbersome—you need to remember to charge and carry them around—and they also have poor displays”), she informs that when multi-purpose wearables, like the Apple watch, gains currency, MobieFit will “make its services available”. The entrepreneur, who has been running since a very early age, will also be launching new apps targeting other fitness areas. “Though I believe running is the easiest, most natural way to get fit, I also work with trainers in the gym or yoga instructors,” she says, pointing out that multiple fitness products will not only help give more choice, but also incentivise more people to go the extra mile. And while she is busy brainstorming app ideas, Panag signs off saying that for fans she has “a film in the pipeline” and plans of spearheading the digital arm of her production company.”
    FirstRun is available for free download on Android. The iOS model will be out soon. Details: play.google.com, firstrunning.com

    Surya Praphulla Kumar

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