I tend towards the lone, she-wolf way of exercising. I generally run alone, ride alone, race alone. In fact in all of 2014, I went on a total of 12 run outings with others—half of those were for work. Pitiful, I know. And, while I’ve tested many tracking apps and tools, I use none of them regularly. So, when I was asked to review Jaha—Where Fitness People Meet, I was more than a little skeptical.
Given its “Tinder for athletes” moniker my husband was less than thrilled (His verbatim quote was, “WTF, Allison?”). Evidently it was even so out of character for my iPhone usage that Apple sent me email suggesting my account had been hacked.
Then there’s the fact that I live in a remote area. My connections were few and far between, but they were varied—ranging in age from 18 to 71, partnered and single, both men and women—so that was impressive.
And then we have to take into account the confusing messages I was sending to the Jaha algorithm machines—I said I was interested in both male and female connections yet was only swiping on females to get her scoop on the app; I never entered any steps—steps are important in showing you’re active in life and on the app, and I didn’t completely fill in my profile.
But, I can see where Jaha has value for those looking for workout connections in a new place, for finding training partners in a new to them sport or who enjoy online encouragement and friendly competitions. Who knows, you may even find your athletic and love match!
For me, running groups promoting their group runs on Facebook is rather groundbreaking and about my speed. I still remember group runs being advertised on flyers posted on bulletin boards in specialty stores—yep, paper and thumbtacks.
I spoke with Jaha co-founder, Gary So, for more helpful insights.
Women’s Running: First, the name—what’s the significance?
Gary So: We were looking for a potential jingle and an easy word for people to remember. We think Jaha, which is a Zulu word for “Chase,” was fitting and did the job because we are targeting fitness people who happen to be looking for each other.
WR: Jaha has been called Tinder for athletes. Is that missing the point, or an expected type of connection?
GS: Jaha is a location-based Fitness Friend Finder. It allows you to find new fitness friends through the interest of fitness. The problem with other fitness apps is that it’s extremely difficult to locate and find new friends. You are only able to search for them via your existing contacts (like email and Facebook), which is why we implemented the GPS friend finder with “Tinder” swipe. We love the swipe because is a great way to encourage people to actively connect with fitness friends without the fear of feeling rejected. I believe this is the main reason for the “Tinder for athletes” comparison.
WR: Based upon feedback you’ve received, how is Jaha most commonly utilized?
GS: Finding fitness friends/running buddies is the main feature people are interested in. Workout challenges is second.
WR: You recently expanded the match matrix beyond 150 miles. Was that based upon user feedback?
GS: Yes, a lot of users are wondering if they can find friends that are not nearby, the extended search distance range could solve this problem. We are going to add “location” in future version so that users can connect with fitness friends in the areas of interest for their vacation destinations or business trips.
WR: Jaha has a partnership with Soul Fitness bands. Are most participants using the app on its own or with the bands?
GS: The majority of users are using it as a standalone app.
WR: So far, is any one type of athlete use Jaha more than others?
GS: We are noticing runners as the main user demographic.