Favorite Apps: Fitocracy

In the spirit of April, I want to tell you about an awesome new app called Fitocracy.

As its name suggests, Fitocracy is all about fitness. It’s part social network, part roleplaying game. You sign up for a free account, join some groups related to the types of exercise that interest you, and then get to work. As you log your workouts, you earn points, complete quests, earn achievements, get props, and more.

The app is highly social, and you can connect it to your Twitter and Facebook accounts to find friends and share accordingly. Fitocracy features a strong sense of camaraderie, and your news feed is always populated with interesting fitness-related discussions.

Central to the app are points and levels. Every exercise you do earns you points. For example, 50 push-ups = +75 points. After you’ve earned enough points, you gain a level. The concept of leveling up applied to fitness is brilliant, and this feature alone makes Fitocracy motivating and highly addictive. It makes you want to exercise more because you want to earn more points. I’m much more likely to bust out ten pull-ups on a whim knowing that I’ll earn +65 points for doing so.

Beyond the points-and-levels concept lie Achievements and Quests, for which you can earn hundreds of bonus points. Achievements are generally related to specific numeric goals, i.e. “Perform barbell bench press for at least 1.3x bodyweight”, or “Cycle 100 km (62 mi) in your lifetime”. Achievements push you to break personal records and workout harder than before. For example, I earned the “Top of the Bar” achievement by performing five pull-ups in a single set, so now I really want to earn the “I Prefer Being Off the Ground” achievement by performing fifteen pull-ups. (Almost there!) Fitocracy rewards progress. It’s a great motivator.

Quests are a bit more fun and elaborate. For example, the “As Seen On TV!” quest is as follows:

  • Perform at least 100 jumping jacks
  • Perform at least 30 crunches
  • Perform a set of 5 push-ups
  • Perform planks for a set of 30 seconds
  • Perform bicycle abs for at least 20 reps
  • Perform bodyweight squats for a set of 10 reps
  • Perform bodyweight lunges for a set of 15 reps

Each of these exercises can be completed at any time; they don’t have to be done in a single workout. There are a ton of quests, and just flipping through them inspires you to get cracking. You want those bonus points!

In addition to Achievements and Quests, there are also Challenges, which are special quests created by your groups. You have to sign up for Challenges manually within your groups.

Fitocracy also has detailed statistics and leaderboards, so you can see how you’re progressing individually, as well as how you’re stacking up against your friends.

Fitocracy helps you log everything via its website and brand new iOS app. It knows pretty much every exercise you can think of, and adding reps and sets is a breeze. You can also view graphs of your progress and keep track of personal records. Fitocracy is much more fun than logging your workouts in a plain old notebook.

The iOS app is very well-done. It has a ton of personality, and it’s a lot of fun to use. Fitocracy has already taken up residence on my home screen. You could consider Fitocracy yet another social network/thing-to-check, but I think the health benefits far outweigh any potential distractions the app may present. It’s a matter of signal-to-noise ratio. If the app works for you and inspires you to workout, then it’s worth it. If you don’t exercise and just spend time reading comments, then obviously it’s not.

Fitocracy has been in private beta for a while, and the app was just released to the public last Friday. Since it’s only about five days old, it’s not without a few minor bugs, but nothing that will prevent you from enjoying and benefiting from the experience.

If you’re not an iPhone user, the Fitocracy website is equally robust. A very active online forum is also available, which gives you the sense of joining a community. That’s where I believe Fitocracy is leagues above other fitness apps. You’re not logging your workouts all by your lonesome. There’s a sense of achievement, progress, and friendly competition. You want to earn more points, hit that next level, and complete quests before your friends do. It’s a lot of fun, and it works.

You might scoff at the idea of earning achievements in an iPhone app, but they’re merely a motivator. The real benefit is of course the exercise itself, and Fitocracy inspires you to do a lot more of it and have a blast in the process.

You can get Fitocracy for free in the App Store, and/or sign up online at Fitocracy.com.

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