The Most Innovative Health and Fitness Startups - 2012

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Find a friend to play Frisbee at 4 p.m. Friday. Plan to learn Portuguese, and do it. Get the info on an influenza outbreak. Startup companies are constantly coming up with ways to make health and happiness easier to achieve. Check out our list of the 45 most innovative, most epic, and all-around killer startups.

 

Fitness Tracking

1. Skimble It’s like a pocket-sized personal trainer. Skimble apps leave few excuses for not exercising— users can track their workouts with a GPS, find other people with similar fitness goals, and download routines from fitness instructors. And the cherry on top: Users get to brag to the rest of the Skimble community when they complete an exercise.

2. Fitbit Where you lead, Fitbit will follow. Slip it in sneakers or pack it in a pocket— this little sensor tracks anything from how many steps users take to how long they sleep at night. People can view their progress in personalized charts, so the goal is always in sight.

3. Runkeeper Run, Forrest, run on a road near the Rocky Mountains or in the local public park. One of the most popular fitness-tracking apps, RunKeeper works for outdoor activities like running and biking. Users track just about every aspect of a workout, including length, distance, and calorie burn, then compare stats with fellow outdoorsmen on social media sites.

Community and Social Networking

4. Sportaneous All dressed up (in workout clothes) with nowhere to go? Sportaneous can change that: Smartphone users log in and see group athletic activities going on near them in real time. The most frequent users earn rewards like performance tickets— plus new friends to work out with! Right now the service is only available in San Diego, New York City, and Philadelphia— it should expand soon.

5. TrainingMobs Get by (and get fit) with a little help from friends. TrainingMobs lets users find groups of people nearby to exercise with. Instead of prowling the streets for a friendly-looking workout buddy, log onto the site to find groups for activities like running, boxing, and Zumba.

6. Fitocracy Fitocracy makes fitness fun by letting users get their game on as they reach for specific health goals. Track workouts on the site and earn points by making progress toward objectives. Users can share their achievements and even sign up for legendary “quests” where they compete against one another in fitness challenges. (No dragon-slaying, sorry.)

7. Skinnyo This UK-based startup is starting a fitness fight. Users compete alone or in a team to see who can lose the most weight and get fit fastest. Choose a challenge from categories like nutrition and exercise and find people working toward similar goals.

8. Keas Think outside the cubicle. Keas encourages companies to compete against each other in fitness challenges, though people can register as independent users, too. Players identify three health-related goals each week and earn points and even cash prizes when they achieve them.

9. Gympact Lose weight or lose money— that’s the idea behind Gympact. Users pay an initial sign-up fee and make a plan for working out regularly. Check in at the right gym at the right time and reap the rewards; miss an appointment and pay up.

Individual Plans

10. DailyBurn This hugely popular startup lets users create personal plans to get healthy. Dailyburn apps help people get started with plans for workouts, nutrition, and weight loss. Users can track their workouts, challenge other members in fitness competitions, and get advice from health experts.

11. GainFitness Not everyone wants buns of steel (sexy as they are). GainFitness gets that and creates personalized workout plans based on users’ fitness goals, body type, and level of experience. In 2011 they launched an app that lets users download instructions for specific exercises.

12. ExerciseTV It’s not just for couch potatoes. This startup gets TV junkies on their feet with unique workout plans and exercise videos. Turn on the tube or tune in online to try a video—they’re free when users stream them.

13. FitOrbit For a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus, look elsewhere; for a personalized guide to fitness and nutrition, FitOrbit’s the place to go. It’s the fanciness of individual attention at a fraction of the usual cost, complete with support groups, text message reminders, and online tracking tools.

 

 

 

Food Shopping Guides

14. Zeer For every mom who’s ever struggled to find bread without crusts, seeds, or gluten, or for anyone who’s wondered whether they’ve just purchased a bagful of E-coli, Zeer offers a helping hand. Since 2008, this searchable database has reviewed thousands of packaged food products based on nutritional information and how well they fit with different dietary restrictions.

15. Fooducate Food labels? So last century. Fooducate offers an app that lets users scan the barcodes on food products at the supermarket. The site gives the scoop on products’ nutritional content and even features suggestions for healthier alternatives.

16. ShopWell Looking for a low-fat, lactose-free, fiber-full cheese? ShopWell’s on it. (But good luck finding a dinner date.) Users search the site for products that suit their age, gender, and personal nutritional needs, including gluten intolerance and diabetes.

Nutrition

17. Lollihop Santa makes monthly visits at Lollihop. Since launching in 2011, Lollihop sends members a package full of nutritious snacks every month, each package tailored to a different theme. Members also get regular updates about nutrition and healthy living on the Lollihop site.

18. Gojee Know that scene in Beauty and the Beast where the dishes invite Belle to be their guest? Gojee’s just as magical, except without the dancing utensils. Users type in a food they’re craving and what they’ve got in their refrigerator; somehow the site comes up with recipes (and mouthwatering photos) they can make easily. No more excuses for beer-and-peanut-butter sandwiches.

Parenting

19. MotherKnows It may not be easy to organize kids’ toy collections, but organizing their health records shouldn’t be so hard. Started by— who else?— two parents, MotherKnows makes it easy for caretakers and doctors to access kids’ health information immediately. The site has a place for kids’ immunization records, the medications they take, and growth charts.

Women’s Health

20. empower I am woman, hear me… ask a question. And get an answer within 24 hours. Other than the Q&A service, EmpowHER brings women news and information about a range of issues, from anxiety to reproductive health. There’s opportunity to join groups of women with similar issues and share personal health stories.

21. Alt12Apps Alt12’s most popular product is BabyBump, an app that lets expectant moms track their pregnancy and post updates. The company’s also the creator of PinkPad, an app for women to track health symptoms, manage weight, and share information with each other.

Health Tracking

22. Basis Part fashion statement, part fitness tracker, the Basis band is a bracelet that logs health information like heart rate, sleep patterns, and energy expenditure. Snazzy charts show up on smartphones and computers to give a glimpse of progress in different health areas. Users can keep the info private or broadcast it on Facebook.

23. Massive Health Our bodies, our smartphones? Led by a former creative director at Mozilla, MassiveHealth wants to show people what’s going on inside their bodies. The company’s products will use feedback loops to track personal health data. Sign up online to test out the tech when it’s ready.

24. Azumio An influx of emails, text messages, and Tweets can make smartphones a real source of stress. But Azumio sees smartphones as a way to track stress and, eventually, to reduce it. Apps like Stress Check and Instant Heart Rate let users visualize biological processes, just by placing an index finger on their phone screens.

25. LumoBack Balancing a book on the head is one way to develop good posture, but this all-new app offers another. Wireless sensors on the lower back alert users when they’re slouched over the keyboard, then vibrate to remind users to straighten up. Sign up online to try out the new technology when it’s available, likely mid-2012.

26. SkinScan Does this look infected? Avoid freaking out friends and frighten a medical professional instead. The SkinScan app, available for the first time in 2011, lets users snap photos of moles and submit them for assessment, getting a preliminary opinion on whether they’re dangerous.

Health Reminders

27. GlowCaps No, I’m not crazy, that really is my pill bottle ringing. Attach these little caps to prescription bottles and they pretty much do it all: light up and ring when it’s time to take the medication, call users’ home phones with reminders, send weekly email updates, order refills from the pharmacy, and bake chocolate chip cookies (psyche about the cookies).

28. HealthCrowd If post-it reminders stuck to the forehead aren’t working, try HealthCrowd instead. The service is based on the idea that every patient has unique needs. Users sign up for a specific program like diabetes management or quitting smoking, and the service sends out personalized text messages from clinicians.

29. GetMinders Don’t LOL, this service is for real. GetMinders sends users text messages and phone calls, prompting them to take care of specific health issues. Users choose the kinds of messages to receive, whether it’s a reminder to take a vitamin or do a few minutes of stretching.

Forums and Health Resources

30. HealthTap There are no stupid questions— or answers— at HealthTap. Users submit queries about personal health concerns and medical experts get back to them with personalized responses. The site launched in spring 2011 (already it has more than 12,000 Twitter followers), and it’s currently expanding beyond its initial focus on pregnancy and early childhood.

31. iMedix iMedix lets people know they’re not alone. Site visitors can discuss their health concerns with people who suffer from similar issues. Articles, videos, and other resources offer information on health topics from insomnia to the flu vaccine.

32. Disaboom Dr. Glen House founded this company in 2007 after becoming a quadriplegic in a skiing accident. Disaboom is a resource for information about disability health issues and a forum for the disabled community. The site even features a dating network and a job bank geared toward disabled visitors.

33. PatientsLikeMe Patients Like Me was born in 2004, after two of the company’s founders found out their brother had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. The site is a free resource for patients seeking more information on specific health topics. Site visitors can find research, ask questions, and meet people with similar health concerns.

34. HealthGuru Health Guru combines the importance of health education with the power of visual entertainment. Since 2007, the site’s become the go-to spot for video health education. Visitors can watch short videos on topics as diverse as college health, psychiatric disorders, and pregnancy.

Healthcare and Medical Visits

35. Cake Health More money, fewer problems. And better health. Cake Health gives people an easy way to organize their healthcare information. The free service lets users see how much they’re spending on healthcare costs and gives them practical money-saving tips.

36. ZocDoc Anyone with an ailment that can’t wait six months for treatment might want to check out ZocDoc, a free service that lets patients find doctors, pronto. Users schedule doctors’ appointments based on their geographic area, their insurance plan, which type of care they need, and patient reviews. No guarantees about crowded waiting rooms, though.

Cognitive Abilities

37. BrainBot Fear not, these brain sensors won’t betray true thoughts about a friend’s “awesome” outfit. Instead, this new technology tracks brain activity and helps people with all kinds of mental performance, from stress-coping skills to concentration. Sign up online to try the headgear when it’s ready.

38. Lumosity It’s hardcore exercise, sans the grunting and sweating. Lumosity thinks people can challenge their brains to work harder, better, faster, stronger. Users get a mental workout, with apps and online games that strengthen cognitive abilities like memory and problem solving.

Goals and Achievements

39. Getupp Getupp, stand up, stand up for your right— to stop procrastinating. Users set a goal based on where they want to be and when (e.g. home to walk the dog by 7 p.m.), then check in on their smartphone when they get there. Plus, users can incorporate social networking, so their success (or failure) gets published on Facebook.

40. LifeKraze.com Despite this startup’s title, its main idea isn’t so Krazy: Compete in challenges and earn rewards. Users face off in athletic and non-athletic activities, then earn points when they post updates about their awesome achievements. Racking up the rewards can eventually add up to prizes like sports equipment.

41. StickK Stick it to the man with this startup that encourages people to reach their goals through—what better motivator?— money. Users sign “commitment contracts,” saying they’ll go the gym every day or learn to speak Chinese in a week. If they fail to meet their goal, they lose the amount they used to sign up initially.

42. DailyFeats Presents aren’t only for birthdays. DailyFeats rewards its members for their health- and happiness-related accomplishments. When they announce their achievements, users earn points that can translate to rewards like gift cards and gym memberships.

43. Habit Labs Those who played the board game Life as kids might take a fancy to HealthMonth, the most recent product from Habit Labs. The snazzy site lets users choose goals (Floss? Spend more time with the kids?) and earn points for making progress toward them. Later this year, the company will release Bud.ge, a tool that offers users customized health recommendations based on their personal lifestyles.

Mental and Emotional Health

44. WebTribes Inc. WebTribes offers a place where people suffering from a range of mental health problems can share experiences and advice. There are “tribes” for addiction, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and HIV/AIDS; all include discussion boards, resources for therapy, and even interactive games.

45. Spill Her junior year of college, Spill’s founder Heidi Allstop struggled with emotional issues and didn’t know where to turn. She created Spill as a way to help solve that problem, giving college students a chance to post anonymously about their personal problems and get feedback from students trained to provide advice.

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About the Author
Shana Lebowitz
I'm the senior writer at Greatist, and I mainly cover new trends in psychology and mental health. When I'm not hanging out at Greatist HQ,...

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