“We created vimcity as a community driven mobile app connecting users to healthy and sustainable products, services and resources while rewarding them for active living and supporting like-minded businesses” – Dr. Susan Johnson
Let’s start off by having you give us a little background on yourself and your involvement with health and wellness.
I have been in the health and wellness field for over 25 years as an entrepreneur, educator, public speaker and advocate. I’ve had many diverse experiences, including fitness instructor, owner of a kayak company, professor and consultant. In my current role as director of Health Promotion and assistant professor in the College of Health Professions at the Medical University of South Carolina, I direct and manage system-wide initiatives related to organizational wellness and provide leadership in community wellbeing. I am also cofounder of vimcity, a new health and wellness mobile application.
How did the concept for the vimcity app come about?
One of the things I am most passionate about is community well-being, and I’ve been very fortunate to have had many opportunities to participate in collaborative initiatives at the local, state and national level. What I’ve learned through these experiences is that our current models of behavioral change are resource-intensive, focus on short-term campaigns and lack sustainability. I believe that to create a healthy community, 1) we need to be more inclusive and create a network of health-promoting partners, 2) we need consistent and ongoing engagement and 3) we need to make healthy living fun, accessible and rewarding. Since mobile phones have become the lifestyle management tool for most, it makes sense that a mobile application should be our tool for community engagement to promote healthy living. So with my partner, Rebecca Blackman Ramsay, we’ve set out to build a network of individuals, business owners and community leaders with a shared commitment to well-being and create a community-driven mobile app to make healthy living fun, convenient and rewarding.
So tell us about the app and how someone would benefit from it?
We know that consumers are looking for ways to live a healthy lifestyle and are making more intentional choices that support their well-being. With this mindset comes a growing desire to plan, track and measure different aspects of well-being and an appetite for smart health management tools. Our app, vimcity, is a free tool to connect health-conscious consumers to healthy and sustainable products, services and resources, while rewarding them for making positive lifestyle choices and supporting businesses in their community. User engagement is key, and we accomplish this through education, rewards, gamification and prompts to support healthy behaviors and a healthy community. As health-conscious consumers ourselves, we wanted to create an app that would make it easy to find health-promoting businesses and resources, would help track lifestyle choices and would provide discounts and incentives for engaging with the app and our community. Here are some of the great features we’ve built into the app:
Search & Explore: Search for fitness classes by time, current location or instructor. Explore new restaurants, retailers, studios and more.
Save Money: Earn points by prioritizing healthy choices and get rewarded with cash savings.
Stay Motivated: Invite friends to class, share goals and progress, message friends and meet new ones.
Lifestyle Tracking: No check-ins required; it’s automatic! Sync a fitness wearable or use a smart phone built-in step tracker.
There are many fitness apps out there. How does vimcity separate itself from others in the market?
We are a local app, created by local health-conscious wellness advocates and built by local developers. We are investing in the communities where we work and live, creating a positive impact on the people and the environment. Instead of focusing on one aspect of wellness, we’ve created a tool that promotes total well-being and includes all necessary stakeholders to build healthy communities — businesses, community resources, committed municipal leaders, healthy event organizers, community-focused corporate partners and health-conscious community members. Our app is innovative, robust, fun, comprehensive, easy to use and free!
How does someone go about obtaining the app and are there any costs involved in doing so?
The app is available for iOS and Android by searching on the Apple App or Google Play stores or visiting www.vimcityapp.com. It is free to download and includes all our great features, including the ability to track and earn credits. Premium membership ($4.99 per month) allows users to unlock deals with credits.
How would a business or organization get involved in becoming a network partner of vimcity?
Becoming a network partner is free for businesses that have been prequalified and are automatically listed in our app. We have preapproved all businesses that offer a health-promoting product, service or resource; engage in sustainable practices; and give back to our community. We have additional opportunities for network partners to engage with users through mobile marketing and encourage business owners to take advantage by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you envision vimcity to evolve over time and what is the ultimate goal you have in mind for it?
We will continue to work with our developers to add even more great features and updates. Our corporate packages allow employers to incentivize and recognize employee wellness and engagement though premium membership, group reporting and corporate pledges to the I Got Legs Million Step Challenge ReEnabled Race Tour. We envision a future where businesses are investors in the quality of life for all citizens by helping communities and individuals lead active, healthy lifestyles. We hope to accomplish our goal by expanding our reach to as many communities as possible to create a nation of vimcity users!