How Pokémon GO Helped Me Kickstart My 2024 Fitness Goals

How Pokémon GO Helped Me Kickstart My 2024 Fitness Goals

Pokémon GO helped me to kickstart my New Year’s fitness resolutions to be the very best, like no one ever was.

Pokémon GO launched in Australia in mid-2016, and created what felt like a collective societal shift amongst users – walking outdoors, you’d see groups of people wandering the streets with their phones out, and you’d share a knowing grin that you were all in this together, filling your Pokédexes to the brim with cool critters while getting your steps in. People waxed lyrical about how the mobile game had got them outdoors again, or helped them find new communities of players to take down gyms or undergo raids, and for but a moment the world seemed a little brighter.

Fast-forward nearly eight years on, and I’d hazard a guess that a decent percentage of those day-one players have probably almost entirely forgotten about Pokémon GO – their Buddies waiting for that next berry hit, their Pokémon storage gathering dust.  I was one of them, too – until I redownloaded the app at the end of December at the behest of others who were getting back into it. Surprisingly, these little pixel Pokémon in my phone have got me outside, touching grass (a rarity), and walking more than I probably have in years.

Working in a relatively sedentary job while writing about what’s often a pretty sedentary hobby (on top of a few brutal years of dealing with chronic pain) has had me posted up at my desk, couch, or bed for years on end staring at screens – I’m talking maybe a couple hundred steps per day sometimes – and suffice to say the complete and utter lack of exercise I engage in (other than intermittent stints of weekly LARP games) has me so unfit I would usually tap out of even light exercise embarrassingly quickly. 

Coming into 2024, despite having previously never managed to achieve or even attempt to undertake a single New Year’s resolution in my 26 years, I was hellbent on trying to regain some semblance of fitness so I could get back into LARP without feeling like I was on death’s door ten minutes into a battle. Since booting Pokémon GO back up, I’ve managed to get in almost all of my daily recommended steps and sometimes more without issue.

I’ve spoken at length previously to anyone who’ll listen about the benefits of gamifying human experiences as a tool to assist people to get through the meat grinder of life – to make things just a little more fun or motivating to engage in when they feel too difficult to do unassisted. And while Pokémon Sleep wasn’t for me (mostly because I felt too called out each morning when I looked at it), Pokémon GO just really does it for me.

I’ve gone on 10km walks and not even realised until I’ve checked my health app on my smartphone, too engrossed in making my way to a raid or trying to find an elusive Pokémon hidden down an alleyway. I’ve specifically made plans to see friends that involve walking or going outside, as opposed to my usual M.O. of posting up on someone’s couch, and got more friends back into the nostalgic joy of finding your favourite Pokémon out in the wild. 

If walking around, spurred on by Pokémon GO’s catchy music and the serotonin-inducing capture of my millionth Eevee doesn’t sound particularly impressive, the enjoyment of actually just getting moving again and slowly easing back into regular exercise has been enough to motivate me to go back to the gym for the first time in a decade – which at least, in my book, is a pretty huge achievement. 

Whether or not I’m still playing Pokémon GO in two months, let alone a year from now, or continue going to gym once the New Year’s motivation wanes, for now I’m looking at the world with a newfound interest in exploring what’s beyond my doorstep and regaining my fitness – even if assisted by a small screen and encouraging animated creatures. 

Lead Image Credit: Niantic

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