PornHub’s Sexercise Profit Grab BangFit Gamifies Sex, Is Smarter Than You Think

After decades of failure, erotic exercise gains legitimacy in the age of biometric tracking. 


PornHub’s release of the BangFit, a fitness program combining sex and exercise that asks players to mimic porn actors’ motions, has the blogosphere prematurely spilling ink last week. But the idea that sex is a fun way to burn calories is hardly revolutionary. Sexercise is basically a sub genre of softcore pornography, but all that emphasis on reconsidering the fundamental function of coitus has never felt like more than a thin excuse for watching people go at it. What BangFit has that previous programs don’t is data. The problem is that many smart wearables and apps can offer that same data without the questionable packaging. PornHub is packaging a function of smartwatches as a unique tool. It isn’t a unique tool, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.

“The rationale behind BangFit in general was to get people active in any way possible,” PornHub’s Vice President Corey Price told Inverse in an e-mail. “And we know that sex is a great motivation for just about anything.”

Price and the development team behind BangFit, which included professionals from the health and fitness spheres, capitalized on the ubiquity of biometric-tracking smartphones to turn humping into a legitimate workout. What’s on offer, in short, is more effective (and more explicit) instruction. The explicit clip giant’s competitive advantage, after all, is shamelessness. Coupled with a degree of seriousness, that’s a potentially powerful thing.

Videos like the 1982 softcore classic “Eroticise” or even the classic thong-bearing video for “Call On Me” featured sexy (and legitimately difficult) moves but were unlikely to end in orgasm. What sets BangFit apart from its predecessors is its emphasis on making actual sex as physically taxing as possible while harvesting biometric data.

BangFit’s videos, cobbled together from actual PornHub clips featuring a mix of common positions and others that Corey refers to as “acrobatic,” are designed so that users following along get a well-rounded training session. “We did this because while sex is a good workout, we wanted our users to exert themselves a bit more than usual while having a little extra fun in the process,” he says. What this means is that, while the videos inevitably feature plenty of pelvic thrusting (an excellent thigh, glute, and core workout), they also, for example, force users into the missionary position to target the triceps, shoulders, and pectoral muscles. For the best full-body workout, according to Corey, you’ll want to get it on while standing up.

During “gameplay,” BangFit users, given the option to play with a partner, solo, or with multiple partners, follow along with porn actors’ moves while tracking their motions using their smartphone’s gyroscope. (Users can buy an adjustable band to keep their phones close from the PornHub website.) That data is the basis of the game’s point system, which awards points each time a repetition — actions like the “squat and thrust” or the “missionary press” — is successfully completed, to a maximum of 10,000. In the one-player game, for example, there are a total of 295 movements, so for each successful movement the player is awarded 33 points.

“Just as in a weightlifting, where with each session an athlete attempts to increase the weight they lift, we wanted to make the sex in BangFit quantifiable so that users could have a metric of how they continue to improve their performance,” Corey explains.

Smart wearables have made biometric tracking ubiquitous; wearers of FitBits and JawBones and smart bras have ever-increasing amounts of data on heartbeat, calorie burn, and blood pressure at their fingertips, but those numbers aren’t especially useful unless you’ve got other numbers to compare them to. With this in mind, BangFit’s developers decided to turn up the heat on their exercise regime even further using a motivator that may even trump sex: Competition.

“The gaming aspect was to make the experience a little more fun, but [it was also a] way for people to track their exercises, thus motivating them to repeat the workout in order to beat their best score,” Corey said. By turning BangFit into a numbers game — users have the option to post their scores to social media — developers have essentially turned sex into a sport.

Will sex make exercise better, and vice versa? There’s plenty of data to suggest that healthier people have more enjoyable sex and no shortage of anecdotal evidence that sex makes getting fit less tedious. Still, this has hardly proven out. And the average user has hardly proven up to the challenge.

“We also kept the workouts to about 7 minutes,” Corey explains. “Because while we believe that the pace set by the porn stars in the video is achievable for a regular person, maybe their famous stamina is not.”

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