One of the most talked about subjects in all of app-dom (and one of my personal favorites) is gamification. The idea that we can use software (usually mobile) to change the way that we think about our everyday activities by turning even the most mundane tasks into a game. One of the first, and arguable still the most persistent, examples of gamification is Foursquare, the app that award you points for simply going places. Experiencing the world outside of your apartment was all of the sudden a competition amongst you and your friends.
Since Foursquare, we’ve seen many attempts to gamify your everyday life. Today, Fitocracy aims to motivate you to get fit by turning your visits to the gym into a game. The web app and it’s companion iPhone app let you discuss with your friends, compare point totals, complete challenges and quests, and more. Let’s dig in and see how it works.
Log Workouts and Level Up
Once you create your account (or sign in with Twitter or Facebook) you can begin your journey by logging workouts. I found the database of workouts to be quite extensive, including everything from basic gym exercises like running and lifting to lesser-practiced disciplines like yoga, archery, or various styles of dance.
After choosing a workout from the list, you’ll be asked to enter the details for it. Fitocracy makes inputting your information easy, as it can be done either during your workout or after the fact. In the screenshot above, I’ve logged my 15-mile bike ride. When you’re finished, you simply tap End Workout.
When you submit your workout, the Fitocracy server will process the information you report and determine a point value to award you. Much like in an RPG, your accumulated points push you toward the next level, and the prospect of leveling up is intended to motivate you to keep working out.
Quests and Achievements
Games aren’t just killing monsters and leveling up. There are other goals to work toward, and that’s where Quests and Achievements come in.
Quests are typically single-workout or short term goals that you can work up to being able to achieve. They usually demand that you perform a certain activity under certain conditions — for example, the “Finally 5k” quest asks you to complete a 5 km run in one work out session. Quests will help you keep your motivation from workout to workout.
Achievements, as opposed to Quests, are longer-term milestones to which each of your Quests and daily workouts will contribute. For example, the Achievements I’ll be working toward are for logging 100, 1000, and even 5000 km on my bike.
There are both Quests and Achievements for whatever sport/workout discipline you’re into. Which is good, because I strongly dislike running for running’s sake, but I can still use Fitocracy with my bike routes.
Many gamers will tell you that part of the fun of working harder to achieve more within a game is so that you have bragging rights amongst your friends (making gaming more social than members of older generations might care to admit, but that’s a discussion for another post). Fitocracy isn’t without that same social aspect.
Fitocracy has social features that mimic services like Facebook, in a way. You can post messages to other users profiles with words of encouragement. You can join various groups surrounding your areas of interest and participate in discussions for motivation and new ideas. Fitocracy even has it’s own version of the Like button, called Props. When someone’s workout or achievement shows up in your feed, you can give them a little nudge of encouragement with Props (screenshot on the right).
Of course, how social would an application be if you couldn’t broadcast your accomplishments to your friends? Rub your victories in their faces by tweeting/Facebooking each win.
I personally am not someone who works out very much. I ride my bike a few times a week, and if I can find the time I go climbing, but by no means do I stick to a scheduled exercise routine. However, when I logged my first workout (for the purposes of this review), I began receiving “props” from the people in the groups I’d joined. Admittedly, I was surprised at how motivating that was for me, and it made me want to go work out more. Obviously, the motivational aspect of Fitocracy works.
In an age where everything is becoming social and the more mundane parts of our lives are being spiced up via gamificiation, Fitocracy is one of the most well designed attempts at alleviating the tedium that can come with working out. Of course, not everyone finds working out tedious. But the rest of us, well, we need a motivator.
A social network for working out that turns your exercise routines into a game to keep you motivated.10