Using Trello to force me to go to the gym

Hello, this is my first time posting. I had an issue similar to this post by ffgm. Pretty much the issue is that there’s a way to circumvent tracking through IFTTT and instead opt for manual data entry. But I felt that this option led me to cheat so I wanted to share a solution using Trello that can circumvent this a bit and might help others .

I’ve previously created a workout goal in beeminder using IFTTT to create a beeminder data point every time I entered the gym. For the first couple of months, this went phenomenal and I was very consistent. But eventually I took advantage of this hack and stopped going to the gym.

So what’s the solution?

Well, it’s not perfect, but it has to do with the fact that you can’t change the data entry method for beeminder integrations with other software, with the exception of IFTTT, Zapier, and Make(integromat). For example, I can’t change data entry options for twitter, todoist, habitica, trello, etc.

With that in mind, we can make beeminder track one of these software integrations instead of making IFTTT send a datapoint to beeminder. I initially wanted to use twitter to do this, where a tweet would be automatically made if I enter the gym. Unfortunately, all 3 (IFTTT, Zapier, and Make) needed me to purchase their subscription plans to do this because twitter’s API is very expensive. I tried doing this through tasker and the authentication was very difficult, and so I gave up on twitter.

Trello, on the other hand, makes it easier to track nearly any task and force yourself to do the task. I’ll assume we all know what trello is, but if you don’t, it’s pretty much a tool that uses boards, lists, and cards to organize tasks. Kinda like an advanced to do list. Beeminder will track one of the lists and check if it’s growing, if it’s not it will charge us.

So the way I do it is, whenever I enter the gym (based on location or nearby wifi) my phone will automatically send an API call to trello in order to create a card in a list that beeminder is watching. Now if you’re not familiar with APIs and webhooks or you don’t have an android, you can achieve the exact same effect using IFTTT and Zapier (not sure about Make). I did this the API way using tasker because it’s very customizable and I already bought it, but it’s probably much easier to do with IFTTT or Zapier, but I haven’t tried it though.

Unfortunately, some sacrifices have to be made. There is nothing stopping you from just creating a card in the list and calling it a day. Therefore, this solution will only be viable if you create a new trello account only for tracking habits, create a very hard to remember password, and tell someone else to store the password but also hide it from you. I asked my little sister to hold onto my trello password. While you could try to find an accountability partner in this community, you have to make sure that none of the information on your trello account is identifiable to you, i.e. use a fake name, a fake birthday, a fake email address, etc.

I’m thinking of also using this method for codewars to improve my programming skills.

It’s not the perfect solution, but at least for me, it makes it very hard to circumvent and cheat. Let me know your thoughts on this.


It would be possible (and this is definitely not a commitment to build it) for the mobile apps to do geofence based datapoint reporting.

I’m curious if this

  1. Would have solved your particular use case
  2. Would be generally useful to other people

Yeah absolutely, I think geofencing within the beeminder app would solve this use case assuming it is developed to be weasel-proof and hard to circumvent. There are probably exceptions where the location is accidentally triggered when you go to a location nearby to the target destination, but for the most part I think geofencing would be an awesome feature.

Don’t know if it’d be useful for most people, but I do think it gives the option for many use cases. For example, it can be used for a daily morning run with a target location, or maybe some people dedicate a certain space (like the library) to study, or maybe some people want to strengthen their religious commitment by regularly going to church, synagogue, mosque, etc. there’s probably a bunch more use cases. So I think that would be a good implementation.


being at the office by a certain time each day would be another great use case! :see_no_evil:

as for

could that be solved by also specifying an amount of time during which the location has to be the same? so that it doesn’t trigger if i committ to 1h of gym-time and go grocery shopping for 30 mins in the store that just happens to be right next to the gym …?
(of course this wouldn’t solve the potential weasling of the morning run location, since the time specified there probably wouldn’t/couldn’t be too long, and you could take a car there or a bike instead of your feet … but for most use cases mentioned here, i think it could be a good solution? [if it’s doable.])

This would be a cool feature, and some of our competitors did exactly that. But of course they didn’t know whether you were actually at the doughnut shop next door to the gym, or goofing around rather than training, or whatever. Or, in this example, trelloing instead of jumping on the treadmill.

This is a great use for Trello, though. I’ve also used it as a kind of ‘data bus’ or messaging service to communicate between IFTTT and Zapier, using a dedicated account.

For all that hacks like these can automate data entry and help make it easier to actually “do the thing” rather than cheat yourself, there’s always a measure of self control and discipline. In the limit, perhaps if only in setting an appropriate slope for the bright red line.

Sometimes it’s simpler to build just a little more of a psychological aversion to lying to your graphs, than to devise ever-more-complex processes and systems.

One of our now defunct competitors, gympact, used geofencing to ‘make sure’ you were at the gym.

According to their official records, I spent a lot of time at a climbing wall in South London. Nope, not unless you count their canteen. But I was at the Gorilla Circus flying trapeze school rig that we’d set up next door, so I think it counted.