Let’s talk about why Fitocracy is genius…

Fitocracy's little mascot and my new best friend, Fred.

Fitocracy’s little mascot & my new best friend, Fred.

What is the one thing that every one who is into fitness needs? Whether you’re a seasoned gym-rat, a long-distance runner, a kickboxing champion, a serene yogi, a lifting maniac, or just starting on your journey?


Fitocracy does an amazing, and not-so-subtle, job of providing its users with just that.

First, though, let’s talk about what Fitocracy IS.
The most relate-able way I can think to describe it is that it’s essentially a facebook for your fitness progress.
You can follow people and they can follow you as you track workouts, post “statuses,” participate in challenges, join groups, and more. The idea is to track all of your physical activity using their system, and for every workout you log, you are given some amount of points. Your points constantly collect and you level up based on the amount of points you have. (So like a facebook video game for fitness. Even better, right?)

So, how does Fitocracy provide it’s users with that pesky, four-syllable “m” word..?
It can be split into three elements: accountability, comparison, and competition. These three things are what I consider to be the cornerstones of fitness, and when you put them together and boil them down, it comes to this: MOTIVATION. Let’s discuss:

(1) ACCOUNTABILITY: when you become a member on a site like Fitocracy and you open yourself up to being followed by others you are immediately subjecting yourself to being held accountable. Everyone can SEE the workouts you’re logging, or the lack thereof. Now that you have somewhere to put that information publicly it becomes much harder to simply skip a workout. Your Fitocracy friends are expecting you to log something; they are holding you accountable.

(2) COMPARISON: as mentioned above, everyone can see the workouts you’re logging. This works both ways. You can see everyone else’s logs as well. You can quickly and tangibly see who can bench, squat, press, and deadlift more than you. You can know how much someone can curl without having to awkwardly ask them and hope it’s appropriate. You can know if someone does body weight exercises, lifting, or both. You can know who loves cardio and who can run a 6 minute mile, who likes rock climbing and who’s into crossfit. You get the idea… What this does is provide the element of comparison, which when used properly, can be an extremely powerful tool for bettering yourself.

(3) COMPETITION: this is a byproduct of comparison, of course… We see that someone is doing more/better/bigger/whatever than us and our competitive instincts kick in. We want to be doing that much too. What does this lead to? Pushing ourselves to get there. If fitness isn’t all about pushing your limits, then I’ve been doing it wrong for a long time now, and a little HEALTHY competition comes in very handy every now and then. (Yes, healthy being the key word.) There are even structured challenges on Fitocracy that you can join to go up against others and get your competitive juices flowing. But it’s not just about competing with other people; it’s just as much about competing with yourself. With an easily accessible record of your previous workouts you can be sure to always up the intensity/weight/reps/etc. of your workouts that way you’re always getting better and stronger than yesterday’s self.

All of these things combine to provide Fitocracy users the holy grail of fitness – motivation.

I have literally never walked away from a session on Fitocracy and NOT felt super fired up. I get so motivated it’s ridiculous, and even if I just worked out, it makes me want to get in the gym again… which leads me to the next section; counterarguments.

Doesn’t an atmosphere like that lead to overworking yourself?
I will be the first to admit that I’ve done extra sets/exercises/workouts just to get to the next level or to boost my place in a competition. But I will also tell you that I’m smart about my gym-time, and I know when I’ve had enough. I won’t workout to the point of over-exhaustion or over-training, and neither should anyone. What Fitocracy does is motivate you to do a little better, push a little harder, to be more active than you would normally. But it’s not blatantly throwing banners all over the page saying “WHAT? YOU DIDN’T GO TO THE GYM THREE TIMES TODAY? GO BACK, FOOL. ONCE ISN’T ENOUGH.” If you interpret the Fitocracy atmosphere to be of this nature, then to be honest, that falls on you. If you don’t know how to listen to your own body that’s certainly not the website’s fault.

The atmosphere I’ve experienced on the site (and this also goes for what others have told me) is so completely positive. People are constantly “giving props,” sharing recipes, posting progress pictures, giving compliments on new PR’s (personal records) or tough workouts. People are a source of encouragement each other and I’ve yet to see a single negative post.

The website doesn’t promote unhealthy methods of weight loss or muscle building at all. Just the opposite in fact – it promotes hard work, and it rewards hard work with a point system.

Doesn’t seeing other people’s progress have the potential to make people feel bad about themselves?
Maybe so, but those people letting themselves feel bad are forgetting something very important: WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT. Some people are just starting on their fitness journey, so it’s not fair to compare themselves to someone who’s on level 30. Some people prefer cardio and body weight exercises which generally receive fewer points than lifting, so it’s unfair to compare their points to lifters. Some people have less time for workouts than others, so it’s unfair to compare themselves to people who workout every day, or more than once a day. Some people have disabilities or were recently injured. Some people just don’t like working out that much.

The point is, while the comparison aspect of the site definitely provides motivation via competition, you also have to be smart about it.

If you are feeling bad from seeing other people’s progress then you need to take a step back and understand that your own progress is what means the most. Take a look at some of your own PR’s and how they’ve improved since you first joined. Look at the nice little graphs that Fitocracy generates for you for each exercise you’ve done and see the visible progress you’ve made. Focus on competing with yourself until you’re feeling more confident.

But, what this issue ultimately comes down to is the wrong mentality. Other people’s progress should never bring you down. Instead you should be happy for them and inspired by their hard work; it should be a source of positive motivation. I truly believe that if Fitocracy makes you feel bad about yourself  then you’re approaching it from the wrong angle or using it improperly, and maybe it’s just not the right resource for you.

As for me?

I absolutely love the site.
As if I really needed another social media black hole to get sucked into, but hey, it’s so motivating I can’t justify leaving. I absolutely love connecting with people and comparing my own strengths. It’s fun for me. I also love having some place other than facebook to talk about fitness, especially some place where everyone loves and understands it. I definitely suggest trying it out if you haven’t already.

If you want to join and follow me my username is:

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Pura vida and stay strong, Fit4Reviewers!