Gamification: Keeping Fitness Fun

With New Year’s long gone, now is about the time where motivation slips. Gym attendance slowly dwindles, resolutions are compromised, and the excuses come like whispers in the back of your head before being replaced by that all-to-familiar nagging that you’re watching yourself slip. What causes this? There are many answers. For many the answer is simply a matter of grit or time. For some, it’s simply boring. What if it didn’t have to be that way? One solution to the question of boredom is to gamify your workouts.

What exactly is the gamification of fitness? Essentially, it is as its name implies - turning fitness into a game or competition of sorts, keeping you and your workout buddies engaged in the entire process. Think about it: How often do we create little games to play at work to liven up our time? How often do we make chores a competition? It’s human nature to desire competition, and the sense of fulfilment from winning makes the whole endeavor worthwhile. Additionally, various technology outlets and workout gurus have offered up various methods for gamifying your solo experience, too, for those times you don’t have a partner. Following these lines of thought, we’ll take a look at a few different ways to gamify your workout experience.

Motion Control / Video Game Fitness

Here is one that I’m a personal fan of. As a lifelong gamer, the idea of marrying video games to my work (multimodal literacies within education, for example) and hobbies, pastimes, and fitness is always appealing. Thanks to the Xbox One and its Kinect and the PlayStation 4 and its PlayStation Camera, working out by yourself (or even with a partner) can be a lot of fun. Microsoft, in particular, really take the metaphorical cake on this one, as they have a plethora of apps and games (some free) that really take advantage of the Kinect technology (as a note, the Xbox Kinect is no longer produced, so if you’re interested in trying this particular step, locating one now will make life easier). Games like Shape Up or Just Dance and apps like Xbox Fitness (free) provide users with a platform to, at the very least, get in some good cardio. Xbox Fitness takes fitness icons and creates videos, exercises, and more to match your wants and needs.

Likewise, the PlayStation 4 (and really any platform that has a camera with access to the same multi-platform games) features a similar array of games. In addition, Sony users have access to a 30-day free trial of DailyBurn - an app that gives its users a variety of exercises in all categories of fitness (weight training, cardio, yoga, etc.). For those of us who like or need videos to work along with from the comfort of our homes, DailyBurn provides high quality HD videos to assist your progress. Fitness and gaming work extremely well when paired with a variety of fitness trackers (like a FitBit), so be sure to maximize your gains by utilizing all of the means at your disposal.

Fitness Tracking / Fitness Apps

Along similar lines and speaking of fitness trackers, using these devices can spice up the mundane exercises you really don’t want to do. Every once-in-a-while, large events are hosted, posing a challenge for those interested in participating. For example, a few years ago, the Chiberia Challenge took Chicago on a teamwide 70 mile run. Partnered with Nike+, meeting the goal of the challenge goal of 70 miles (the sum of all members of a team) awarded the winning team with nice, new running shoes. Other events, both locally and nationally, are popping up constantly, so keep an eye out for those.

Still, numerous other uses for your wearable tech exist. Find a group of friends, co-workers, or like minded acquaintances and start a running bet. Set whatever type of fitness goals that you can accurately track and start your own personal competition. I have had a group of friends who tracked our steps and weight loss (including tracking our body fat) for a small amount of money (and I’ve always seen friendly competitions in the workplace where the biggest loser takes away a few hundred dollars). In these scenarios, you’re not only rewarding yourself by getting into a healthier shape, but you’re also setting yourself up to win some extra cash. Who could complain about that?

If steps or mileage isn’t your desirable choice for wearable tech, you can also measure you weight training progress with something like Rithmio Edge. A device like the aforementioned can track your rep count during your workouts, keep a post-workout log, and track the muscles you worked on each session. Progress bars allowing for tracking and gamification if desired, as you could set up completion competitions and more.

The HealthyWage Gamble

This one is pretty new to me, but I find it pretty interesting. There is a website called HealthyWage where you can gamble on your own fitness goals. Basically, you bet the site that you will lose a specified amount of weight in a specified amount of time and choose how much each month you’re willing to wager. If you reach your goal by or before the time you selected, HealthyWage will pay out the amount agreed upon. Should you lose the weight before your selected date, you must remain at or below your goal weight until the wager is over. HealthyWage is a neat little site where, should you have the extra cash and time, a little extra hard work could earn you a few hundred or even a thousand or more dollars.

Personalizing Your Gamification

When it comes to fitness, training, and the gamification of it all, personalizing the experience to cater to your enjoyment is key. Find an app that works for you and begin tracking your progress or earning rewards. Group up with your buddies and lay out a friendly wager for a winner. The important part of the entire gamification process is that it gets you motivated and invested in reaching your fitness goals. Remember: The human mind loves a challenge, and gamifying your workouts - especially if you struggle with completing them - is an excellent way to attain your goals. With the new year freshly minted, the best way for a better you could lie in the results of a gamified fitness plan.

Do you gamify your routines? Are there any apps, websites, or games in particular that you use to reach your goals? Let us know below.

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