It was embarassing to check back in to Fitocracy, the gamified "workout MMO" I touted about a year ago, and see almost no activity on my account since the previous winter. It's not that I haven't been to a gym since then. But a combination of backsliding and simply failing to log my activity meant I'd done what a lot of free-to-play gamers do: Get fired up in the first month or so, plateau, and check out.
Fitocracy, which really is more a support network and workout consultant than pure video game, put out a long overdue mobile app for the iOS at the end of March. I never visit the gym without my iPhone, mostly because I need some kind of music or background noise to mask the distractions of racked barbell plates, loud conversations or, worse, soles squeaking on the treadmill belt. With Fitocracy's mobile app, you can now check in your workout as you're completing it, which is much more convenient than lugging around a pen and notepad.
If you have logged preferred workout routines into your account on the web (and I recommend that you do), then by logging into the same account from the mobile app you'll see them within a couple of touches off of the main menu. For those with itinerant weight-room habits (raises hand), having a few options handy here helps solve the "what the hell am I going to do today" confusion, or the boredom that comes from repeating the same set of exercises out of habit. The difference is, as a mobile app, these can be served to you at the last minute. That eliminates the "what-am-I-gonna-do-today" indecision that, for me, often adds 20 minutes to just getting out the door.
If you choose to freelance it though, building a workout from the app's deep list of activities is time intensive and involves a ton of scrolling. This is a laborious process not suited to a smartphone. So if you get to the gym and don't want to do the same old workout you've had sitting on your account for six months, check the "quests" menu. There are tons more of these, which are specific exercises and groupings that add "experience points" to level you up within the network. Of course, some will need specific equipment or facilities (there's a fixation on rock climbing, which I'll probably never do) but the variety, again, means if you can just drag your arse out of bed and get to the gym, once there the app can find something worthwhile for you to do. For those getting started, trying to find consistency or (raises hand) coming back from backsliding, this is a big assist.
It's not literally like having a personal trainer. Fitocracy doesn't claim to be that, anyway. But its mobile app is, like the overall "game" itself, a useful structure to get you to go to the gym and give you something productive to do when you get there, without a lot of agonising over specific workout plans. And it's free. That makes it still worth "playing" in my book.
Fitocracy [Free, iTunes]