At HackFit, ambitious entrepreneurs prove launching a company and lifting weights isn’t an either/or proposition

At the first HackFit event, coders took time out from work to engage in fitness activities, like rock climbing.
At the first HackFit event, coders took time out from work to engage in fitness activities, like rock climbing. –Juliette Lynch for The Boston Globe

If you spent the weekend on the couch, watching football and eating chips, you might want to skip the next sentence for the sake of your self esteem. One hundred and sixty fitness technology entrepreneurs devoted their weekend to launching startup companies at the first-ever HackFit  event in Cambridge and Somerville — and somehow managed to log a combined 50 hours of running, 66 hours of cycling, 103 hours of yoga and 106 hours of rock climbing and strength training in the process.

What a bunch of overachievers.

HackFit, a startup in its own right, aims to rewrite the typical hackathon equation, which might be expressed as pizza + sugar + caffeine – sleep = cool new idea. HackFit’s version looks more like healthy food + exercise + plenty of rest = cool new idea.


The company held its inaugural hackathon Friday night to Sunday night at Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge and the Brooklyn Boulders climbing gym and co-working space in Somerville. Entrepreneurs worked in teams to launch tech startups that focus on healthy living, and took breaks for exercise classes and shut-eye.

Teams were judged on their innovations and also scored on their activity levels.

“The most intriguing data point was that the teams that had the most impressive projects were actually the most active teams during the weekend,’’ said HackFit founder Justin Mendelson. “I think it goes to show that activity really does inspire creativity and innovation and better teamwork.’’

The best prototypes to come out of the weekend included a geeked-out weight lifting machine with sensors that transmit data about an exerciser’s power output to a mobile application, and an app that monitors calories burned during a workout and recommends nutritious foods to help refuel afterward.

We’ll have to wait to see if these ideas turn into real products, but it sounds like there won’t be a long wait for the next HackFit weekend. Mendelson said he’s hoping to stage similar events in San Francisco and New York by the end of the year.


“People came up to me and were like, ‘I’ve been looking for this type of community and these types of people to engage with my whole life,’ ’’ he said. “That was so inspiring and so fulfilling for me to hear.’’

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