I was thinking that it’s time that I posted some original content for a change. I was going to write something about how Mrs. Edge and I have been doing as a result of her agreeing to give me some maintenance canings, but then I thought that most of you wouldn’t be interested in anything like that. Fortunately, Ms. Ferns mentioned that since I’ve used a number of different fitness tracking sites or apps, that it would be a good idea for me to write a little review. Certainly that’s better than reading about Mrs. Edge discovering that she now gets very aroused when I’m leaning over the bed as she’s smacking my well-muscled rear end, right?
Anyway, a while back, Ms. Ferns decided that she wanted some workout buddies, so she created a fitness section for herself and friends. The problem was that all of us seem to do different types of exercise, and on different schedules, so it was difficult to keep track of everyone. This led to some of us moving to a consistent platform to
show off log our workouts. I’m just going to give the pros and cons (my own opinion) on some of them.
My own workout routine is a little different: in the warmer weather I prefer to spend my time road cycling. After having tried a number of different cycling/running apps, I settled on Strava. MapMyRide (part of the MapMy___ group) has more features, but it turned into a battery hog. It also stored the GPX (distance/speed tracking) files in a non-standard format that couldn’t be read with other apps. Strava has fewer features, but has been consistently good on my Galaxy S4 running Android; no weird freezing or crashes. Last year I bought myself a Garmin Edge 500 – a bare-bones GPS tracker, so I no longer use my phone to track my rides, but I do upload my data to Strava because I have a number of friends that follow me there.
In the colder months, though, I prefer to lift. This arrangement puts me in a frustrating position in which I lose a lot of my muscle gains from cycling and have to make them up again. In theory I should try to lift at least once a week over the summer, but really – cycling is my preferred activity.
For tracking my lifts, I actually use a notepad and pen. I have several years of notebooks, so I can look back at any time to see what I’d been doing. This is especially important when I want to see if certain exercise will cause me pain, soreness, etc. This past year, though, I’ve tried to keep my workouts simple – just a full-body workout using several basic exercises (as opposed to “leg day” and “arm day” workouts).
I tried a number of fitness trackers because I liked the idea of seeing up to date progress graphs and other features not immediately available on my paper notebooks. I settled on Jefit because it had a large exercise database, and the free version had some basic tracking. When they came out with a mobile app, it was easy to use and gave me most of the features I wanted.
Jefit is an exercise logger. It’s not going to give you a calorie count or nag you if you didn’t work out this week, but it does have a very large number of exercises that you can choose from. Pick the ones that you want and start entering the numbers: Barbell squats – 145 lbs, 5 sets of 5 reps. You can duplicate the sets and edit them later if you need. It will also show what your max is/was, and how it compares to what you’re doing now.
Where it falls short is in the “social” aspect, but to be fair, this is where most of the apps fall short. Jefit allows you to connect with other friends who can see your workouts, but you can’t easily post a workout to Facebook so all your other friends can ooh and ahh over it. That’s where Fitocracy shines.
A number of Ferns’ workout buddies have moved over to Fitocracy simply because of the social aspect. The exercise database is smaller than Jefit, and the web browser navigation is a bit clunky, and it relies too much on cutesy little scripty touches. And the app? Forget it – it’s actually easier to use your mobile browser than the app.
But Fitocracy does something that the other apps don’t do: it gives you (based on some weird calculated algorithm) points on your workout, and easily lets you share those scores with other friends, including on Twitter and Facebook. Why is the points important? Because you can set up small groups for time based challenges. The points allow people who do different workouts to compete with each other. For example, I do some pretty basic lifting – squats, deadlifts, pullups, presses. My frequent challenger does machines, plus some dancing, and a few other weird things. The Fitocracy algorithms allow her to compare her workout efforts to mine, even though our exercises are quite different. This makes the challenges a little more fun, and makes it so that the biggest, strongest person doesn’t consistently win all the time.
So, which fitness tracker for you? If you’re just looking for the social aspects, or looking to start a groups with people who all have different routines (or exercises), then Fitocracy is probably the best option. But if you like the old-school pen & paper style, then Jefit might be the tracker that let’s you forget about everything else except lifting the iron.
And here’s someone who doesn’t skip leg day. Or back day, or arm day.