Pete Davison: A Vote for Fitocracy is a Vote for… Wait, No

Posted on October 16, 2011 by

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Andie and I joined the local gym yesterday, and had our induction sessions today. All is good and we’re feeling suitably motivated to proceed. This will likely mean leaving EA Sports Active 2 by the wayside — boo, no PSN trophies for me, but seriously, who gives a toss? — in favour of using actual proper exercise machines. And also not having to strap on those motion sensors which occasionally disconnect for no apparent reason.

Don’t get me wrong, EA Sports Active 2 is great, and it offered enough to get me motivated to start gymming it again, but there’s no substitute for the “real thing”.

The thing with being a member of the gym is, of course, maintaining your motivation factor. There are lots of ways you can do this — going along with a friend, keeping a log of your progress or, increasingly, using some form of website or app to both track your progress and brag about how awesome you are and how swell your guns are looking.

There are plenty of these available — Runkeeper Pro is my app of choice on my iPhone — but a lot of them are relatively simple affairs that just track what you’ve done without any particular form of motivation bar what you make up for yourself. Runkeeper does email you every time you break a personal record, but that’s about it.

Enter Fitocracy, an up-and-coming website that’s still in beta. Fitocracy takes the concept of fitness tracking and jams it firmly up the arse of social gaming. This means that every time you track some fitness, you get points. Points mean levels. Levels, as we’ve seen from fifteen billion social games that really don’t need a levelling system, are a powerful motivational tool — and, as each level gets progressively harder to achieve, they inspire you to push yourself a little bit further, whether that’s demonstrating your patience with clicking on a Facebook game, or feeling the burn a little bit more with your workouts.

There’s also a Quests function, which is an awesome idea. Take on a Quest and you’ll challenge yourself to do a specific exercise or combination, with points on offer as a reward upon completion. Obviously a large amount of this is down to your own honesty — but then so is fitness tracking itself, and the only person you’re cheating if you lie is yourself. Levels don’t get you anything per se, they simply provide a degree of motivation to the whole experience.

I will be trying out Fitocracy with some interest over the next few weeks — and possibly longer if it turns out to be awesome. It’s invite-only at the minute, but if you’d like to try it out for yourself, get in touch and I can hook you up with one of my remaining ones so you can check it out.

In the meantime, I have some grinding to do.

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Posted in: Pete Davison