Fitocracy: A love story

Today is my rest day.  I know rest days are important, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them.  I find that even though today is a rest day, I can’t stay away from Fitocracy.  I’ve joined a new group for Heinlein fans called Time Enough for Fitness, and I’ve wandered around the site giving out props.  I really am a Fitocracy Addict.

I’ve touched on Fitocracy before, but I’ve never really gone into detail about why I love it so much.  So here you are.

Fitocracy is modeled after RPGs (Role Playing Games), so as a former player of WoW (World of Warcraft) it made perfect sense to me.  Typically toward the end of a day, I log my workout activity for that day, whether it’s my running and walking or my core training.  Based on a whole host of variables including what activity I did, how much I weigh, how heavy any weights were that I used and so forth, Fitocracy awards me points for each activity I enter.  As I accumulate points, I level up.  Right now I’m level 11.

There are also quests that can be completed to gain extra points.  I haven’t been focusing on the quests so much, because my focus is training for the marathon, but I have completed 5 quests so far, including the Consistency is Key (log any activity 10 times in a week) and Oh Hai Abs! (do a set of 20 crunches).  There are a lot of quests that have to do with strength training exercises I’m not doing, but perhaps after the marathon I will get around to completing some of those.

And of course, there are achievements that can be earned as you go along. Often, when I get an achievement, it’s a total surprise.  I have 8 achievements so far.  Most of mine are related to the social aspects of the game, such as receiving props and making comments, but there are also plenty of achievements related to workouts.  I also have the I Seem To Be Lost achievement, which just requires that you log 20 miles of running over time.

Fitocracy works for me as a motivational tool for several reasons.  Obviously gaining points & levels is a nice little motivator.  It can get quite addictive, as many current and former RPG players will tell you.  Also, when you log a workout other Fitocracy users can give you “props”.  I’ve said before that having someone acknowledge my workouts, even if it’s some distant stranger, is helpful to me.  It just gives me that little boost of validation.

Recently I’ve noticed that I’m developing a little bit of an obsession with the little gold stars I get for achieving a personal record in a certain activity.  It doesn’t take a lot to get a personal record.  All you have to do is add one more crunch onto a set than you’ve done in a single set before, hold your plank a tiny bit longer, or run just a little farther than you ran last time, and so on.  I’m finding, though, that I want those little gold stars, so I push myself just a little bit during each workout.  That is very obviously beneficial to me.

Fitocracy is also functioning as an educational tool for me.  When I’m looking at the workouts other people are doing, and giving out props, if I don’t know what a particular exercise is, I can look up the description in Fitocracy’s tracking tool, and naturally I can also look it up on the internet.

Finally, the social aspects of Fitocracy can be helpful, fun or both.  People can follow each other, like friending them on other social network sites and users can join groups.  When you open the main Fitocracy page you’ll see workouts & posts from the people you follow and posts in the groups you belong to.

Users give each other props for workouts and can also comment on those workouts.  We can post comments or questions in the groups that we belong to and other users can reply.  On the helpful side, I see a lot of folks asking for help and ideas when they are struggling to reach a goal, and they’ll get so many replies from other users sharing their own tips and tricks for getting past whatever hurdle it is, or even just offering encouragement when someone is feeling discouraged.  Groups can also post various challenges for members to compete in.  Some are based on points, others are based on specific activities.  Some of the helpful and encouraging groups are Weight Loss, Future Me, Healthy Eating, Long Distance Running and so on.

On the fun side, there are tons of groups for people who share interests, many of which are nerdy and geeky in the extreme.  There’s a group for fans of just about anything you can think of, such as The Oatmeal, Hall and Oates, Doctor Who, WoW, Monty Python and so on.  Sometimes we share information about our shared interest, like Doctor Who news, and sometimes we just post silly things like quotes from Firefly that can be taken in a motivational way. Many members of the One Does Simply Walk into Mordor group post updates on where they are on their walk to Mordor, which I think is pretty fantastic.

The admins and devs on Fitocracy also encourage a supportive environment.  The whole idea is for us to support, help and motivate each other.  Nasty comments or groups are very much discouraged and the devs aren’t shy about dealing with those sorts of issues.

So if you’re thinking about starting a fitness routine, maybe Fitocracy could help keep you motivated.  I’m quite sure I’ll be using it over the next 147 days as I train for the marathon, and beyond.

In case you’re curious, here is a screen shot of a workout I did a few days ago.  I had to go back a few days to find one that would fit on my screen and showed a few gold stars and props.  Click to embiggen.

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2 thoughts on “Fitocracy: A love story

  1. 🙂 Fitocracy is pretty well designed, I’ve been hearing good things about it from multiple people.

    I’m… still on the fence about asking the site for an invite. Why? Partly because I can see that it _is_ a well designed game. Like most good games that are meant to be engrossing, if you only give it a halfhearted attempt, it can backfire a little. I don’t really want it to backfire for me, and I’m kind-of curious if it has room for what are, in essence, casual players. People like me who genuinely need to be less indolent (at least physically) but who don’t really want to commit to more than a casual routine (30min/day is probably needed, but really, that’s pushing it for me — because I will have to de-prioritize other things in order to get that time, and the real reason I haven’t is I on some level realize I resent having to make it a priority).

    So, from what you see on the inside… How much variation in engagement do you see within Fitocracy?

    • It seems to me that there are a wide range of users. I don’t know that it has to be as addicting for everybody as it is for me.

      I understand, though, that it’s hard to find the time. I had the time, so it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. 🙂

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