Spring Break is something like two months away. It’s always the first shot across my bow from a fitness standpoint. We usually spend a week or so on a warm Caribbean island in many fewer clothes than usual and I invariably want to look better in those clothes than I do.
“Fitness” is a multi-variable concept for me. I am fit. I run 5k several times a week (now that my achilles is healed back up…for the most part) and go to the gym for strength training a couple more times. That’s usually at least five days a week of physical activity. I have an above-average set of muscles where you want them, a strong core, and a great resting heart rate for someone my age. Even my body fat percentage is, according to my scale, in an acceptable place. But my physical appearance, smoking shoulder porn and post-run sweatiness aside, isn’t what I’d like it to be. It’s really never been except for one time in my life when I was waiting tables and busting my ass every night.
So, around the beginning of the year, I start to think about Spring Break and how I’d like to look in a swimsuit I have no business wearing. This year, Drew was thinking similar things and we started to look for a program to help track activity, etc. This led us both to be part of Ferns Workout Crew (hashtag fwocrew) and the realization that I have far too many apps involved with my endeavor to look better naked. This is made even more complicated by having a kinky pervert online persona and a muggle online persona.
There are several apps involved with tracking my food intake and energy output on the muggle side of things.
MFP is sort of the hub of all the apps. It’s where I track my food (when I’m good) and, as such, it’s also where all my activity information ends up. Thier simple concept of eating less equalling weight loss is hard to argue with. No fancy diets. Just eating less. It’s also a great motivator to exercise as doing so provides me with calorie credits.
Strava tracks my running and other workouts. It feeds those over to MFP where they’re cashed-in for calories I can eat above and beyond my daily limit. As a road running app, I adore Strava. Beautifully designed and usually pretty solid from a functional standpoint. Stava also communicates with my Polar heart rate monitor and stride sensor (which a lot of these kinds of apps do). I used to use RunKeeper but I liked the cut of Starva’s jib better. I also used to use Nike Running but it didn’t play well with other apps (at the time) so I jumped to RunKeeper. Nike did show pace on my map, though, through changing my route color from red to green. I liked that.
I can track my workouts in Strava, but not reps and sets. Just what kind of workout it was (ie, strength) and how long it lasted. It gets passed off to MFP like the outdoor runs and when I run on our treadmill.
The concept of social networks is very important in all these apps for me. MFP has a ton of people I know in it as does Strava (and more all the time). The Strava folks seem to be a bit more hardcore than the RunKeeper crowd which I like. I really like to run. So much so that I probably overdo it and injure myself. Sitting with my legs soaking in giant buckets of ice water in the summer is a normal thing for me.
Everymove is kind of a sideline app. I only use it because a bunch of people I work with do. It rewards points and makes competing with a group of people dead simple. That’s pretty much it’s raison d’être. In addition, you can earn real-world rewards by being active (like coupons or donations to causes). I don’t really care about that, though. If it wasn’t automatically connected to Strava, I might not use it. Just like with MFP, everything just shows up there automagically.
My bathroom scale is from Withings and has wifi built-in. My weight, fat percentage, and BMI (which is kind of a crock of a metric) gets collected and eventually ends up in MFP. I also have a Withings blood pressure cuff I use a couple of times a month. That data also shows up and is tracked in the Withings app.
I have tried several fitness trackers. I liked the Nike Fuelband for quite a while but they were unreliable and kept dying (and now Nike killed them). Also, they didn’t play with other apps (not unlike their running app). Then I tried the Misfit Shine. Very pretty but difficult to read easily. Waterproof, which is cool, but syncing with the app required physical contact with my iPhone which is a bummer. It uses a watch battery so it lasts a really long time but the app (at the time) had no social connections at all and didn’t connect with MFP. I also had an early Basis Band (since discontinued; this is the current product) which promised to track my heart rate but I found it to be very unreliable. Plus, it wanted the spot on my arm where my watches live and it was too ugly for me to wear every single day like that. Plus plus, again with the no syncing to other apps.
At the moment, I have no fitness tracker but the Fitbit Surge looks really awesome. I’m not making any moves, though, because the Apple Watch cometh and I know I’m going to get one and it will be awesome (that second bit is more of a hope than a fact).
Kinky sex pervert side
Fitocracy is a workout tracker. With it, I can track my reps and sets. It has, seemingly, thousands of types of strength exercises along with a bunch of cardio. It offers curated workouts (collections of exercises) focused on different goals or you can create your own on the fly (which is what I do). You can also hire a coach directly in the app, which I haven’t done since I have a real life trainer, but it’s an interesting option to have.
The big thing about Fitocracy, besides being easy to use and well designed, is that it’s social at its heart. I abandoned my muggle account and created a new Thumper account so I can be on a team with Drew. Really, it’s just a way to keep one another motivated. It’s “gamifies” working out by rewarding points for each kind of exercise, apparently based on the intensity and difficulty. A downside is it won’t sync with MFP (which I don’t need anyway, but it would be nice).
Jefit comes with being part of the fwocrew. It seems to do everything Fitocracy does just with an uglier and harder to use website. I still can’t figure out how to enter my workouts properly on their site. The app is somewhat better, but still not as simple or pretty as Fitocracy, in my opinion. However, I really like being part of the fwocrew and will have to invest the time to figure it out. The snobby interactive designer in me just can’t let myself use it over Fitocracy, though. It seems to have all the functionality needed to do what the fwocrew needs it to do, but I just don’t care for it at all.
I think that’s it. I have tried all kinds of other apps and gadgets, but this is the list of the ones I’m currently using. Some might say this is overkill (and I wouldn’t argue), but I love being able to quantify all this data about myself and share it with interested friends. It helps me stay motivated and focused and that makes me healthier and, eventually…hopefully, look better naked.