It’s not every day that I’m introduced to a new web service by the awesome xkcd web-comic. So when they featured Fitocracy a while back, my curiosity was indeed piqued. Fitocracy is a website that turns exercise into a social game by having you track your workouts and then giving you various achievements for your track record. It’s free, but it’s invite-only at this point.
Luckily for you guys, I’ve scored us some invite codes, which are hidden away further on down the post. So let’s check out this Fitocracy thing, starting with their own product tour!
Since Fitocracy is social, you get the oh-so familiar “news stream”, as seen on Twitter, Facebook, and just about any other social platform. Only here, the news stream is all about fitness, and includes plenty of strangers discussing fitness.
Yes, the news stream is full of people you don’t know, but Fitocracy wants you to follow some of them, just to get the hang of things. Okay, I think I’ll follow wats8976 above.
Next, Fitocracy points out my personal scoreboard:
And now I get to post my very first status update, telling the world what I’m up to. As could be expected, the concept of circles or groups is built into Fitocracy, so you can select who will get your update right when you post it:
Next, the tour switches you over to your Profile tag, and shows your own activity (of which there is none, at the moment):
And there’s also a stats view, full of zeroes at the moment:
When you start your way in Fitocracy, you’ll first be a member of the New Fitocracy Member group. You apparently need to get all the way to level 7 before you get to leave that group:
Since Fitocracy is built to let strangers meet each other, you get to “tag” yourself with physical activities you like:
Yes, I like walking for fitness. Next, the tour takes you to the Track page, where you can start logging your physical activity.
Similar to RunKeeper, Fitocracy also has some suggestions showing you what you can do, in case you don’t have any ideas:
The bar to the left contains tabs both individual exercises and complete routines. The “Routines” tab is empty at first, but the Exercises one is chock-full of exercises, and has a great live-search feature:
Each exercise comes with a complete description text description showing how to do it:
Now, let’s log my short bike ride to work.
Once you log your workout, you get a very satisfying “coach clipboard” showing how many points you’ve earned:
I assure you, this really is very satisfying.
Now, about those routines. Routines are a bunch of exercises which you usually do together. Think of them like recipes in a food-log application: Rather than log each individual ingredient in your favorite meal every time you have it, you just enter the recipe once and then log the whole meal.
To keep things interesting, you can start on a “quest”. A quest is a cute name for a fitness challenge. Here are some of the ones which are available when you’re just starting out:
You don’t exactly “enroll” on a quest. You just keep logging your activities, and as you do great feats, you will be awarded with quest completions:
But Does It Work?
In the xkcd comic’s alt text, Randall (xkcd’s creator) says:
I felt so clever when I found a way to game the Fitocracy system by incorporating a set of easy but high-scoring activities into my regular schedule. Took me a bit to realize I’d been tricked into setting up a daily exercise routine.
That’s a lovely way to put it. I couldn’t say if Fitocracy “works” because it’s obviously a very personal thing. Not everyone will stick to an exercise routine, no matter how social you make things. Also, Fitocracy isn’t the only game in town. There are lots of other sites that try to get you into shape. But I can definitely see how Fitocracy can become a habit.
Oh, and about those invites I promised? Here they are! Enjoy! But remember to come back and tell us what you think of the site.