Calgary app connects active Canadians with new gym buddies

Hafiz Mitha launched an app called PlayCity a few years ago, which helps sports and gym enthusiasts find people to play or work out with.

Developer hopes to get more fitness fans off their phones and onto the court

App developer Hafiz Mitha finds sports to be a common denominator between people from different backgrounds. (AthleticShoot Photography)

An app developer in Calgary is hoping to match gym buddies across Canada, if all goes as planned.

Hafiz Mitha launched an app called PlayCity a few years ago, which helps sports and gym enthusiasts find people to play or work out with.

So far, more than 3,000 matches have been made across roughly 20 sports or activities, from hockey to tennis, and dog walking to badminton.

The app is based in Calgary, and so far has buy-in from the City of Calgary, Calgary Sport and Social Club, and major rec centres including Rexall and Genesis, Mitha said.

"In the next six months, I'd like to be Canada-wide," he said.

Hafiz Mitha created PlayCity so he could find people to play sports with. (CBC)

He's hoping to get national sports organizations, and ones in other cities, to also buy in to the app.

Right now, people are downloading the app, even internationally, but the app is useful only if there are a variety of people to meet and easily accessible sports facilities in your neighbourhood.

The goal is to find someone available near you who also plays the sport at about the same skill level.

The app matches you with someone appropriate, then if you both agree to chat, you can message in the app before agreeing to meet at a sports facility or gym.

Everyone is verified by linking to Facebook, but Mitha said he is looking to offer other verification methods after the recently publicized concerns with Facebook's data collection and security.

Users of PlayCity can find other enthusiasts of their favourite sport in Calgary. This is a screen capture of the app's launch page. (CBC)

Mitha was inspired by the ease and popularity of dating apps like Tinder, and thought there might be an opportunity to use the model to connect people, who he believes are increasingly isolated.

"I think it's our mobile phone. It's the technological revolution, whatever you want to call it," Mitha said. "It's literally us being tied to our phones and all day, every day."

He did a trip to Nepal to visit a friend a few years ago, and found he couldn't communicate with people he was meeting as they spoke a different language.

'Common denominator'

But when they started playing soccer, they all understood each other.

"I think that sports is a great way to bring people together based on different backgrounds and just a common denominator," Mitha said.

"Just the state of the world being as it is right now, super divided, not active enough, spending way too much time online, our mission is to bring people together."

So far, the app has users in Edmonton, Vancouver and a smattering of other cities worldwide. 

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.