Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting Fit

Back in September of 2011 I, once again, told myself I should get in shape. I remember the day clearly. It was a typical morning, getting ready for work. The kids were getting up, slowly as usual, and I was in the shower. I do my best thinking in the shower, but I sometimes the thinking turns into introspection and this time I was thinking about getting older and the quality of life issues we all face. It's a recurring conversation I have with myself. Having a job where I sit down for 8+ hours a day, I need to get up and move about. I try occasionally. I'll get up early and ride the exercise bike we have in the home office. But that usually lasts a few days. Then I go back to my usual self and crunch noisy foods to drown out that inner, nagging voice.

Around this time I heard about a website called Fitocracy. This website, so it was said, was a trojan horse. It's kind of an online game--you get points and earn levels and do quests. But underneath it all, hidden away in the dark belly of the wooden horse, there was exercise.

I hopped in with both feet (I wonder if I could get points for that hop?) and started tracking my workouts. Riding 20 minutes on the bike was good, but I could get more points if I rode 30 minutes. And then did some crunches. Ooh, and the quests have points too! So I got extra points for doing 50 crunches. Woo!

Then I tricked, or recruited..., a few of my friends into joining Fitocracy and with them came peer pressure. While no, I wouldn't jump off a bridge if all my friends did, I will ride the exercise bike or do some extra dips if it meant an advantage in some friendly competition. I was off to the races. I've exercised 3 to 6 days a week since then. Here are some numbers for the end of the year:

Exercise (and regular) bike: 475 Miles
Crunches: about 6,000 (plus another thousand or two reverse crunches or oblique crunches)

And lots and lots of dips and pushups. I even ran 12 miles.

So, the questions:

Will I continue to work out? I think so. I hope so. I feel almost compelled to do it at this point.

Is Fitocracy just a fad? I don't think so. Since joining I've found a community of supportive like-minded folks. I'm as motivated now as I've ever been. I'll be installing my new chin-up bar this weekend. That said, of the original group of friends I invited, only one still is regularly working out and using Fitocracy.

Is Fitocracy just for muscleheads? Not really, though it's tempting to say yes. Several months ago it seemed the site was aimed squarely at the gorillas in the weight room. But the admins have added lots of "body weight" quests and exercises and achievements for the rest of us. And again, there are so many people there, you're bound to find a group that suits you. And now I'm looking at possibly joining a gym just so I can try some of the weight training I've been missing out on.

Would I recommend Fitocracy? Absolutely! There's so much more to the site than what I've mentioned. I figure I only use about 40 - 50% of the site. I don't do much in the forums and I don't do much in the way of nutrition, challenges, or competitions (though that will change, I'm sure). The admins are constantly adding new features and content. That said, the site is not for everyone. I've seen many folks drop off after getting a cold and missing some workouts, or going on vacation. If you only use it track fitness it will work just fine, but there are lots of (possibly better?) ways to track fitness (online or off). For me it was the social gaming aspect that formed the secret sauce that keeps me coming back.

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