But just how many pop over to a site and do some social bonding over sports and fitness? Ironic, isn’t it. Especially, when physical activity is one of the strongest social glues known to us.
Consider the New York City marathon where millions of people spill over on to the streets to watch it. That’s not counting the many more who watch it on television. These kinds of mass sporting events show that there’s nothing wrong with sports.
This article will not make the lazybones get out of bed for the sake of fitness (I hope it does). But if you are already into a fitness activity, the community fitness website I am about to take you to, just might give you that extra edge.
In the fitness of things, FriendFit is a social network for runners and cyclists. It seeks to add the power of the community to your flagging motivation. It’s not the only one of course. There are also community fitness websites like MapMyRun and Skimble which have a host of help and community support.
FriendFit (formerly known as RunThere.com) is first and foremost about recording and mapping your physical activity (by the way, lawn-mowing is not a fitness regimen).
Second, it’s about sharing it with the friends you pick up on the way.
Thirdly, it’s highlighting your health improvements and showcasing it across the social sphere.
So let’s jog lightly towards FriendFit and see if it can serve as an online fitness mentor.
There are a couple of ways to log in – with your Facebook account or with a new sign up. You have a choice between the free personal account and the subscription based trainer account. The latter is for the fitness instructors who would like to keep tabs on those sweating it out under his watchful eyes. I am not a jock but an average Joe, so it’s the free personal account type for me.
Log & Blog Your Activity
FriendFit covers a lot of fitness pursuits, from running to even Wii exercises. All activities are categorized according to where they take place (land, water, gym, water sports etc). There’s even a place to enter your treadmill data if you hit that more often than you hit the jogging tracks.
So how did it go? Upload a photo of yours running yourself ragged or just put it down in words. You can even note that you just went for a stroll with your dog.
Data like Total Distance, Total Time, Date (with start time), and the Motivation Slider are the important stuff that helps you to keep score of how you are faring on the fitness trail.
Okay, I haven’t mapped out my route yet. That’s what I would be doing next. You can do it right at the beginning too. That’s important because it also lets you note down the distances you are covering. You can also enter an approximate distance or pedometer data if you have it. For the more hi-tech among us, it could be GPS data too (as shown in the above screen).
As soon as you save your first day’s activity, your fitness page gets updated with the relevant information. For my day run, I can see that I covered 5km at an average speed of 4km per hour. Collecting all this data will tell me at a glance if my hard work is really paying dividends for improved health.
Mapping Out Your Route
For aerobic activities like running or walking, FriendFit lets you really work it out to the level of the route you take. A detailed tutorial takes you through the nitty gritty. But the gist is that you can create a new route by just entering an address, landmark, park name in any location in the search box.
Mapping out a route is as simple as clicking points on a map. Points can also serve as mile markers. It’s all on Google Maps. Several map controls (like zoom and pan) give you the tools to view and construct your daily run paths.
You can give the route a unique name, save it, tag it, and add a comment to it. Your saved routes can be bookmarked by others if you allow it via the privacy settings of your profile.
Reciprocally, you can also bookmark map routes of your fellow community members. To make things easier, there’s also a search function which lets you search for saved routes around locations.
A user friendly feature is the one which lets you compare two saved routes. You can compare it for distances or use the Pace Calculator to find your average speed over two different terrains.
It’s a community site after all. You can set about inviting friends and also plan a group run. Post your FriendFit info on Facebook and you are sure to get some new sporting friends.
FriendFit also has a leaderboard which tells you who’s the leader of the pack. Take it either way – as a motivational kick or as a signal that you just aren’t loving your body enough.
In the end, either of these two factors should spur you towards the gym or towards the great outdoors. If you hit the fitness path, with a few friends in tow, FriendFit would justifiably feel that it has done its bit for a healthier world.
Do you think community fitness websites helps to socially motivate and pace your fitness training?