Twins, a wedding and walking all combined to launch Don Gleneski '86
on a career as a web-based motivator. His wife's desire to walk for fitness, his love of spreadsheets, and
some prodding at a family wedding led the electrical engineer to develop
"HealthWalkers came about because of our twins,"
Gleneski said. His wife, Nancy, was looking for a little extra
motivation for her post-partum walking program. "I dug out my
engineering books and set forth helping her," he said. "I
immediately started to set up various spreadsheets and graphs to help
her track her progress."
A few months later, at a family wedding, the talk turned into an
engineer's approach to motivation. "By the next morning, I found I
had committed myself to setting up a web-based database, so everyone
could monitor each other's progress and motivate one-another."
Thus was born HealthWalkers as a fitness tracking Web site and
Gleneski expanded beyond the original walking club when members began asking about cycling
and aerobics and flexibility and even cross-country skiing.
The site tabulates lifetime miles and various statistics for the last
30 days. The statistics change instantly, once an entry is made. Members
can choose their fitness activity, enter their daily time or mileage,
and see their improvement and how they compare with others. Gleneski
even created "performance points" to try to equalize and
normalize various activities.
To date, the site has served more than 2500 members. Membership fluctuates, however, depending
on the season and individual needs," Gleneski said. "Mothers
looking to shed excess pregnancy weight will often remain only until
they reach their goal. A senior may walk on a more permanent bases"
and log an entry every day.
The HealthWalkers guru also creates special activities to increase
motivation. Those who joined a "survivor" challenge, for
example, with targets based on their previous individual statistics.
Meet your target each week and you are still in the game.
For the future, Gleneski said he would like to attract more members
and have real clubs - like cycling groups or mall-walkers - start using
the site for tracking purposes. He also hopes to attract sponsors,
perhaps cardiology clinics or other medical centers, to help people and
their exercise programs.