The idea for this came to me on the weekend when I was running past TRIUMF. One of the perks of living in Vancouver is you can run through a beautiful, moss-soaked coastal temperate rainforest—the kind of place that makes you think Yoga should be lurking nearby—and then emerge next to a particle accelerator.
That looks painful, I know. But there’s no easy road to six-pack apps.
As someone who struggles with going to the gym, electronic devices may well prove to have been a life-saver for me. Without an ingrained workout ethic, it’s been hard for me to see a half-hour on a stationary bike as anything more than a sweaty waste of time.
Yes, I know it improves my lifespan over the long run, increases my endurance over the medium run and enhances my energy in the short run. But in a world of a million urgent deadlines, it takes a lot of self-talk to convince myself to take the time to get to the gym, change, work out, stretch, shower and get back to work.
But devices – they provide that immediate sense of accomplishment that working out, at least so far, doesn’t quite manage to do. I can listen to an audiobook while I row, read an O’Reilly tome while I run, or catch up on my favourite podcasts while I flail.
All well and good… but I’m getting pretty good at identifying moments when I’m dividing my attention instead of being truly present. The fact that I feel the need to multitask to feel productive, while I’m doing something that is objectively very productive, tells me I have some more work to do. There are mental muscles I need to work on in tandem with my lats and quads, wiring in some positive associations and finding a few immediate rewards.
Maybe those rewards come in the form of an endorphin rush, or the short-lived-but-gratifying muscular definition that sometimes emerges in my arms. Or maybe devices can come to my rescue again.
There are, after all, scads of apps (possible new word: “scapps”) devoted to encouraging, tracking and reporting your workout progress, and a slew of social networks centered around fitness and exercise.
Fitocracy caught my eye with the single phrase “turn working out in the gym into an RPG,” suggesting I can address both my basal metabolic rate and that conspicuous gap in my geekiness resumé around role-playing games. And the Kickstarter-funded Zombies, Run! had me at “Hello– AIEEEE! (gurgle)”
What’s working for you?