Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Bit of Health: Fitocracy

Over the past few years I have lost around 70 pounds--I've gained some weight, and lost more weight, but the amount that it has all fluctuated is around 70, give or take. This time last year, in an effort to try to lose more weight, or find something that kept me interested and compelled me towards weight loss, I downloaded an app called Fitocracy. Unlike other fitness applications that pit your against your friends, or offer you money for each workout (I heard that app totally bombed), Fitocracy allows you to gain points, achievements, and level up with each workout. If you pay for the application, which I have not yet done, it gives you the opportunity to "challenge" other members in a battle to see who can do the most push ups, crunches, run the most miles or whatever in a set amount of time. It's all about them 'chievos, baby.
I know what you're thinking--what the fuck does a fitness app have to do with games, let alone old school ones. To be truthful, maybe not that much, but like HabitRPG another app that I have touted as awesome in this here humble blog, Fitocracy plays to the interests and abilities of gamers to compel them to do something that not even the Wii Fit could. I mean, let's be serious, that stupid balance board really never did anybody any favors anyway, and hula hooping was super easy to cheat at. 

Anyway, returning to my point, there is something satisfying about knowing that you are gaining levels, how many points you have to go to your next level, and having a set list of things to do to beat an achievement. It is kind of like quests in World of Warcraft or other RPGs but involves doing a bunch of squats instead of bringing a bunch of skins back to Nesingwary or whoever. I wouldn't be able to think of how to do any of these exercises on my own, or come up with any kind of inspiration, so being able to get "challenged" to do it really helps keep working out motivated and interesting. Granted they have unfortunately deprecated the achievement functionality, much to my dismay, but have promised that it will be coming back in the near future.

Along with the built in impetus to workout,  Fitocracy also provides its users with a built-in support network. Users are able to "prop" other users for good workouts, leveling, or interesting posts in the groups which leads to making new friends with common interests, or at least feeling like somebody is cheering you on. Even if it is just because they want you to prop them back, it still feels good when one of your workouts that you struggled to get through gets something like kudos from 20 strangers. For example, the other day I posted a comparison photo of myself from the beginning of my ~70 pound journey mentioned above, and tons of strangers who had never met me (and probably will never meet me) were so encouraging and joyous for me that it made me want to just keep working out in order to keep that feeling going. 

The community is great, the app is pretty decently built and has a very responsive support staff, and it's easy to use and mobile. If you are a gamer, like me, who has struggled with your weight and is looking for something to motivate them, I would pretty strongly recommend joining up. The app has videos of basically every exercise you could ever want to do to avoid you hurting yourself when exploring into new territory, and is constantly growing--so there will always be new people to help motivate and work with. Give it a look, and if you do find me--I'm Mercenator.

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