January has seen a slough of fitness apps released for Android, perhaps attempting to capitalise on the well-known phenomenon that sees the vast majority of gym memberships purchased in the first month of the year. Most of them have already had successful incarnations on the iPhone and overall there are few new ideas between the three of them. However, if you are an Android user these may nevertheless are likely to be the best fitness apps currently available to you so if you are thinking of getting fit in the new year, read on for a comparison of features and reviews of their functionality.
Gympact is probably the most intriguing and most controversial of the three. Based on the iPhone version of the same name, it involves users agreeing to give up a little bit of their cash if they don’t manage to make a work out – sacrificing it to more diligent users. When first launched the app made news, having been featured in the NY Times, Techcrunch, CNBC and others.
The way it works is as follows: You agree to work out a certain number of times a week and then set a forfeit for yourself if you do not make it. You can set the forfeit to trigger if you do not check into your gym via GPS or if your phone’s GPS doesn’t track you doing a pre-agreed run/walk/bike trail. Whenever you successfully complete a workout you earn a reward paid for by those who have made forfeits. Social aspects to the app’s design include the ability to share the workouts you have done as well as the rewards you have earned.
Just a few weeks after launching Fitsby had to make a huge change to the design of this app. Initially, it had been set up so that you could invite your friends to use the app with you and then compete against their performance for money. You would each stake a cash sum and the winners take the cash from the losers. Quite quickly, however, they realised the downsides to this model (both in terms of relationships within a social group and fitness safety) and changed it altogether. There were, for instance, real fears that the app as originally designed would encourage overtraining.
Now, you and your friends join a group together and those who meet their own personal gym goals are rewarded from the money staked by those who do not. This seems a far more balanced way to run the app and users have by and large responded well to the change. Limitations, however, include the fact that you need to find a bunch of friends to work out with you – something which may be more or less difficult depending on your social group.
Unlike the other two apps above, Fitocracy offers absolutely no financial incentive for you to get fit but instead uses the power of gamification to motivate you. By taking all of the most addictive elements of successful video games it encourages you to workout more frequently. By exercising you get to level up, win points and “slay the laziness dragon” turning the whole thing into one big computer game.
If you don’t like the idea of risking your cash on your work out but want all of the benefits of an app that helps you keep track of and stay motivated about your exercise then this is perhaps the one for you. This app has a higher user rating on Google Play, scoring 4.3 out of 5 at the time of writing although its user base is markedly smaller than that of the other two.
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Fitocracy, Fitsby and Gympact: Three Fitness Android Apps for 2013