Fitness sites – a personal evaluation

Motivational-Quote-10

If you have a habit of working out regularly and have been doing it for years, then you probably don’t need any motivation as you know the benefits of staying healthy. Most of us balk at or wonder about the images we see in the media but do little to emulate it. We all have our own reasons.

For those of us who got off the health bandwagon or starting to get onto it, staying motivated is a challenge. One great way to stay in the game is to log down your workouts. Secondly, being part of a group is a great motivator. You get that nudge when you start to stray from your practice. Anyway, the point of this blog is to share what I found out about various fitness sites. I wanted to log my workouts as I have seen this being beneficial for many of my colleagues. I went back to Dailymile after three years and was amazed to see a few of them still working out. I read quite a bit on the ‘net and narrowed down the sites I wanted to try out. Here they go and my findings. I won’t list each and every feature that needs evaluation, but I like to point out the highlights of what is good and what isn’t. These reviews are limited to my style of workout:- workout in a gym as opposed to on the road. Also, I need a site to track food and workouts. Thus a few below will fall out of my radar soon. An ability to track both from my smart phone is always great for ease of entering and viewing data. Good reporting is a must. Some of the sites give me advanced reports for a yearly/monthly membership.

Mapmyrun.com : This is an established site with millions of users. Workout entry captures all the details that I was interested in i.e., duration, calories burnt, avg. speed, avg. heart rate. You can enter the calories manually or let the site auto-calculate. This site is great for those who run as it has features to track the route using your smartphone’s GPS.  I can also track food intake and the site has a good database of foods, including indian food. You can add your own foods as well. Logging food intake is of average effort. Site has both iOS and Android apps. I found the Android app to be okay; would rate it 4 out of 5 much like most other sites.

MyFitnessPal.com : Another site with a large number of users. This site is centered mainly on tracking food intake. Exercise entry captures fewer details. They Android app wouldn’t give me a summary of my workouts so far; the Nutrition interface on the app was more easier to enter data. Reports are pretty basic as they can track progress by certain data type such as weight, height, calories, etc, but you don’t get a good overall report. One annoying thing I found for exercise entry is that the home page always has the date on which you started on the site. You have to make sure you change this to enter your workouts; else it goes against that first date. They could easily have defaulted the date to today’s date. Once you enter your daily food and exercise and click the complete button, the site projects how long it will take to reach your goal.

Dailymile.com : The site does not track food at all, but is popular. It doesn’t have an app yet for iOS or Android. Their database of exercises is limited as well.

Runkeeper.com : Runkeeper has the most colorful interface and gets you basic reports with the free membership. The site doesn’t have the ability to track food. Their Android app crashed a few times after I installed it. It comes up okay now, but think it needs a few bug fixes right away. On the Friends tab, it shows my activities.  On the Me tab, doesn’t display data accurately. You get basic reports – distance run only –  with the free membership; for duration and calories, you need to get membership!

Endomondo : Doesn’t track food. Exercise entry doesn’t capture all the details I want mainly calories. It’s overall statistics display on the home page is the best I have seen – all on a compact graphic. The exercise history is also very readable. The calendar view of monthly workouts is pretty cool.

Fitocracy : By far the most motivating site to keep up your working outs. Each exercise gets you points and you reach higher levels. This can be pretty motivating as you see incremental progress with each workout. However, it takes more than few clicks and seconds to get you the points after a workout. The site doesn’t track food. Exercise entry interface is not the intuitive. The performance reports are by activity type i.e., walking, cycling, etc; I couldn’t get an overall report. If I were to track only workouts, this would be first choice. And the site has major fito-crats such as Arnold Schwarzenegger who you have access to whenever he decides to take questions.

Fatsecret : If you are into tracking nutrition, this is one of the better sites as it has a vast database of foods. Exercise entry can be fast as it captures less details, but it auto calculates the calories burnt. The site also calculates how much energy is spent by resting and sleeping, giving you a whole picture. Nutrition intake entry is by fat the easiest I have seen – I could enter multiple foods for the day all at once. I found it calculates the calories spent during exercise more generously than other sites.

If I leave out sites that don’t track food, then I am left with MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal and FatSecret. With an emphasis on tracking exercise also with more details, I might be sticking to MapMyRun. A $29 annual fee will give additional features including advanced reports. I will be updating this blog again in the future.

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