When Mashreq used social fitness platform Flabuless for a steps challenge, it tracked 40 million steps, or more than 30,000 kilometres, in just three weeks.
Flabuless was founded in Singapore in 2012 and brought to the UAE by co-founder Jaya Maru when she moved to Dubai with her husband in 2015.
The company’s first product was actually a corporate perks solution – but a white label fitness tracker, incorporating rewards from 35 local partners such as Kcal, Fitness Factory and Zen Yoga, was a seamless transition.
Flabuless can pair with step trackers such as Fitbit and Jawbone or work as an app on ioS or Android. It can be branded by client organisations and has inbuilt rewards and communications tools.
“I saw the Win Gold challenge – lose a kilo, win a gram of gold – and saw a gap. I realised you need to motivate people to be healthier,” says Ms Maru. “Think about a Frequent Flyer programme: you earn miles. Here, you earn points based on how active you are.”
For every 500 steps, participants earn one point, so 45 days of walking 3km to 4km a day would get them to 25,000 steps, or 50 points.
If they check in at gyms or healthy restaurants they would also earn points, as they do for classes, depending on the calories burned – one point for the gym, five for an hour of squash.
Clients can also put their own events into the programme, such as wellness talks or corporate health checks – attending staff can gain more points.
“When insurance became mandatory here, it was a big motivation for employers to focus on preventative wellness, rather than curative,” says Ms Maru. “They are treating wellness as an investment, rather than an expense.”
Mashreq was her first local client; 440 participants took the World Diabetes Day challenge as part of the bank’s Sahtaq wellness programme, with the aim of avoiding diabetes by walking every day.
DP World, Dubai World Trade Centre and Unilever have also come on board and Ms Maru is close to formalising a deal with an insurance broker, as Flabuless already does in Singapore. It will be branching out to Abu Dhabi soon and then plans to take on the rest of the GCC.
Jaya Maru, co-founder of Flabuless
What can I do with Flabuless points?
Points will unlock rewards, such as discounts at gyms or sports shops, a free salad or a paddleboarding session. Up to 500 points might get you a 15 per cent discount; 1,000 30 per cent, over that and you’re into buy one and get one free. There are 35 local partners. Businesses using Flabuless can also choose to add their own cash rewards into the system, to further incentivise staff.
Can I see my colleagues’ steps and points?
Employees at Mashreq were grouped into teams of four, Ms Maru says. “We saw that people were walking more and getting motivated by each other’s performance through the leaderboards and competing teams. It’s a good way to mobilise a big pool of people over a long period of time.”
What can the UAE learn from Singapore in this regard?
Singapore’s government is conducting an exemplary effort to educate people about nutrition – at schools mostly, but even at hawker stalls, where there are labels saying “Ask for less oil” or “Eat more green vegetables”.
Does Flabuless offer wellness packages?
Ms Maru says these are offered in tandem with Ignite Corporate Wellness. “Ignite offers a structure with wellness programmes and interventions.”
A parting thought from Ms Maru?
“Mandatory insurance has motivated employers to focus on preventative wellness.”
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