by Tim Huebsch
A former air ambulance pilot in Prince George, B.C. saw first-hand the effect that inactivity had on a number of people. Ursin Camenisch, a 32-year-old originally from Switzerland, has developed a mobile application that connects people through sport in an effort to get the “next generation” active.
The app is named 5F and it’s currently available on iOS with plans to extend to Android after the concept is proven. The platform, which brands itself as an “app to find fit friends,” is similar to the popular match-making application Tinder, which Camenisch says was one part of the inspiration behind 5F.
“I really think sport goes a long way,” he says. “Having a sport buddy holds you accountable all year long.” Camenisch is currently working full-time on the project after two-plus years of working as an air ambulance pilot in northern B.C.
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How it works
Once in the app, users complete a profile including name, age, sex and photos. Then, users can check off sports that they’re interested in and specify their skill by selecting “want to try,” “beginner”, “intermediate” or “expert.” The cycling subcategories include fat biking, downhill, road, cross country mountain biking, BMX, and cyclocross. There are more than 100 activities to choose from.
“I transported too many patients with non life-threatening illnesses that could have been prevented with some regular exercise,” he says. “I am hoping to make a small difference with this app.”
People can then choose their radius to narrow down the search. The “discovery page” allows users to search through the database and connect with potential workout partners based on previously selected sport preferences. Both parties must opt-in, like Tinder, to initiate a conversation. The app may serve as a way to meet people if you recently moved to a new area or a way to stay motivated by having a “workout buddy.”
Since an August 2016 launch, more than 2,500 people have downloaded 5F, with a recent bump in downloads after CBC British Columbia and reddit featured Camenisch’s story. He says that 5F is currently just himself and that he first came up with the idea in August 2015 but “really decided to get it going” in April 2016.
Camenisch admits that the relatively small download numbers at this point means that users are spread across the country and the globe sometimes making it difficult for people to connect. He has funded the project himself and “built the blueprints” though he is not a developer. His target number is approximately 100,000 downloads on iOS before migrating to Android.
The Prince George resident says that he has seen “similar” applications to 5F but they don’t connect people in the same way or are one-sport specific. The 5F website notes that “this is not intended to be another dating app, there is Tinder for that.”
The mobile application is free and 5F is expected to add new features, some of them for a small cost to help fund the application, in the future as downloads increase.