As of today I am a level 9 human, and I couldn’t be more excited. For the uninitiated, what I am referring to is my level on the iPhone “game” fitocracy.
What is it?
Fitocracy is a new app for iOS by the company of the same name. Originally a browser based game, the idea is to help you be motivated to get fit. I know what your thinking, and I was skeptical too, but Fitocracy really is a unique and engaging way to tackle physical fitness.
The app is built on the idea that fitness should be fun, and that each time we work out we should get recognition for it and feel a real sense of achievement. So, naturally the best way to do this is to gamify your fitness by assigning experience points for each activity, allowing you to eventually level up in real life.
Fitocracy then takes this gamification to the next level by recommending quests for you to go on, just like in all your favorite RPGs. These quests range from the relatively simple such as play 30 minutes of sport or try one barbell squat, to the extremely difficult like run 42km in one set, swim 4km in one set and cycle 180km in one set (this particular challenge will net you 4,500 XP points and my eternal skepticism at how honest you are within the game).
How does it work?
When you first open the app you are given the familiar option of signing in with your existing Facebook account or signing up for an all new Fitocracy account. Once this is done you will be taken to the track screen. This is going to be the hub for all of your activity tracking.
On the track screen you can see the days of the week listed across the top of the page. You are actually able to retroactively add workouts for the past week, which is a great touch. While on the track screen you can swipe right to left across your device to scroll through recommended quests. To see more info on the quests just, swipe up. If you want to accept a quest, just press the tick. If you want to save it for later you can favorite it with the heart icon. The gesture/button combination controls are a breeze here and make exploring the app both easy and fun.
When you are ready to add an activity you simply press the go button in the top right corner of the screen, select the active quests you are working on (if any), and start logging. Any activities linked to your selected quests will automatically show up here waiting for you to press into them and add relevant details such as reps, time or type of activity for organized sports (drills, scrimmage, competitive game, etc). By pressing the plus button on the lower left hand side of the screen you can add any activities from your workout that aren’t tied to your quests (activities tied to unselected active quests still count toward the quest totals).
There is a large range of activities to choose from, ranging from walking/running to weight liftingmachine aided workouts, to organized sports, (I recommend following anyone you see that logs roller derby as an activity because roller derby is awesome and its inclusion here really satisfied me). Once you have added all the activities from your day’s workout and assign the relevant information to them, you simply press the end button in the top right corner to receive your experience points. Any completed quests will also earn you the relevant experience, and you will be told that the quest has been completed in a pop up message claiming that you are “awesome!”, which always feels encouraging. Once you have gained enough experience points you will level up in real life!
The gamification of physical fitness is one thing, but this app rolls in another heavily modern feature to expand on the idea. Fitocracy is not just a fitness game, it is a fitness community. The app doubles as a social network, complete with groups you can join and friends you can follow. A lot of the groups are made up of various fitness personalities hawking their workout programs and trying to sell you books and other bits and pieces. I’m sure all these books and programs are beneficial to your health for the most part, but I feel like a lot of the groups aren’t too genuine in nature. That said, there are plenty of great groups filled with encouraging fellow fitocrats ready to dish out “props” (likes) for positive reinforcement at any time of the day, and even willing to engage in decent discussion over what you are hoping to achieve.
I have been speaking to a lot of people about fitness lately, as this year I am trying to turn my health around, and one of the most common remarks I am hearing is that, “The gym makes me feel uncomfortable, like I’m being judged.” I know that every time I have tried to join a gym, this is exactly how I have felt as well. Using fitocracy has given me the exact opposite feeling from day one; I have felt supported and encouraged every step of the way, and that is a big part of me continuing my fitness regimen.
Is it contagious?
I know there are a lot of fitness apps out there, and I plan on covering quite a few of them here this year. The majority of the fitness apps available claim to be able to keep you motivated and interested in working out. I can say for certain that fitocracy’s unique combination of gamifying and socializing fitness online manages to achieve exactly that; the user interface is pleasant and unobtrusive, the idea is original, and the community is highly supportive. I have never been so motivated to get up and go for a run or attempt and fail to do chin ups. If I see any results this year, I’m sure that fitocracy will have played a major role in it. I highly reccomend this app for both beginners like me and fitness veterans alike.
Leave a comment below with your Fitocracy name if you join up; it’s always good to have more friends to join in the fun with. Also, let me know some of the fitness apps you use or reccomend. I am currently scouring the App Store and plan to do a large recap piece at the end of the year for everything that worked or did not work for me and I’d love to take all of your suggestions on board.