Muschamp Rd

Fitocracy iPhone App

April 8th, 2012
iPhone 3GS

About a week ago the iPhone App for Fitocracy, a niche social network, that tries to ‘gamify’ fitness came out. Prior to it’s release I used two other iPhone apps to track my workouts then I would dutifully enter the information into the Fitocracy website in order to earn points, badges, and the props of my peers. Having tried the Fitocracy iPhone App in a variety of situations I still prefer my previous system of tracking my workouts. A screen shot of the Fitocracy iPhone App

First of all I’m not in nearly as good of shape as I was ten years ago, before a variety of sports related injuries and my MBA negatively impacted my health, I don’t think my back, shoulder, and knees will ever be the same, to say nothing of other health problems I’ve had to deal with. Prior to my job at BOB I got into better shape by going to the gym diligently then I got busy with work. Now I don’t have the excuse but I spend way too much time alone in front of a computer to ever be truly healthy. Suffice to say that I’m open to trying new means to improve my health and motivation to regain some of my lost fitness, enter the iPhone…

I was invited to join Fitocracy by a fellow blogger. I can’t say it has made me go to the gym more, but I am more diligent in tracking my workouts. I need to improve my diet and overall commitment to a healthy lifestyle, more than I need to earn badges in an online social network. Obviously some people really like online social networks and some people are heavily motivated by earning badges they can show off to their peers, I enjoy following other people’s progress too, but not to the point that I log into Fitocracy for any other reason than to enter my workout.

Since Fitocracy did not originally have an iPhone App, I looked into programs that I could log my gym workouts on my iPhone. The one I settled on is JEFit. They have a matching website, Bodybuilding.com can also be used to track fitness progress online, but may be too hardcore for some, Fitocracy is much more trendy, Web 2.0, and gamified. The first time I went to the gym with my new Fitocracy iPhone App, I was all excited, I downloaded my workout routine from the website, but the exercises didn’t seem to be in the right order. It also assumed I’d instantly finished every exercise getting the exact same results as last time. The Fitocracy website works similarly and this is even a bigger design flaw when shrunk down to the iPhone.

Fitocracy treats ‘routines’ as a basket of  exercises that you’re ready to submit to the system to earn points. It doesn’t default to saving the changes you make to your routine as you improve or you adjust your workout based on how you’re feeling, the time you have available, and the busy-ness of certain stations in the gym, etc. JEFit does things much better, it treats a routine as a series of exercises you are about to attempt. It remembers how well you did last time. It automatically starts you at the first exercise and you can then work your way through your routine, adjusting your workout as you go. One feature of JEFit that I use a surprising amount, is the ability to take notes about an exercise. I use this to remind myself to increase the weight or adjust the settings on a cardio machine, next time I do that exercise. At the end of your last rep of your last exercise, you have the option to sync your workout with the JEFit website. This is how routines should work in Fitocracy.

The other thing Fitocracy’s iPhone App doesn’t do is track time and distance. The iPhone has a built in GPS which can be used to measure the distance you travel on a walk, run, or bike ride for instance. The Fitocracy iPhone App does not currently have this capability. That means if you want to accurately measure how far you did run or bike and the time it took, you need another iPhone application besides Fitocracy. I did a lot of research previously and settled on Cyclemeter. It does a good job and can account for a variety of activities. You can of course enter bike rides, walks, and runs into Fitocracy, you just need to use something else to time yourself and measure the distance traveled.

The Fitocracy iPhone App seems designed to allow you to enter your activities on the go and earn points right away, instead of waiting until you return home to your personal computer. It doesn’t do the best job tracking and monitoring your workout routine in the gym and it is no help at all in measuring the distance and time your travel doing cardio outside. Fitocracy has a social aspect, you can update your status or make comments just like Facebook and other online social networks using your mobile phone. The App seems to work best if you do a single activity then enter it immediately after you’re finished, such as completing a soccer game. Alas my days of organized, especially competitive sports are over, JEFit and Cyclemeter just do a better job of tracking my workouts on my iPhone. When I get home I can enter the data into the Fitocracy website, earn my points, and collect my badges.

This is the first version of the Fitocracy iPhone App so maybe it will get better, but until they overhaul how they handle gym routines and until they leverage the iPhone’s GPS, I’ll be sticking with the applications mentioned above.

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