Weight-loss success story creates app to make exercise fun

Ya Farzin used to be big. Now he just dreams big.

The 28-year-old Bethesda, Md., resident, who lost 200 pounds several years ago and went on to become a personal trainer, is trying to “do something great for the fitness industry.” To that end, he and a partner have created a free mobile app called Heat Running, which aims to turn monotonous exercise into a fun, rewarding contest.

The app puts users into a race that they can see on their iPhones (there’s no Android version yet), “a virtual Mario Kart kind of thing,” as Farzin put it, referring to the popular video game. Runners are represented by dots, and although participants aren’t actually racing at the same time — the app takes users’ recent runs and their times to plot progress around a track — it looks like they are, and the effort required to overtake a dot in front of yours is very real, indeed.

The name Heat Running refers to racing heats, and participants can get placed into increasingly challenging groups of 10 by continuing to push themselves to run faster in their chosen distances. The idea for the app is derived from the many long, lonely miles Farzin logged on his quest to transform himself.

He grew up in the Washington area as “a very large kid who turned into an obese teenager.” During his sophomore year at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Farzin stood 5-foot-11 and weighed 365 pounds; he had trouble walking up stairs, suffered from sleep apnea and disturbing heartbeat irregularities, and doctors were telling him he was well on his way to full-blown diabetes. Read full article…


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