Friday, August 19, 2011

Jacob Recommends Stuff Part II

Photo: kaneda99, Flickr Creative Commons

If you read this blog, you already know I fully endorse running and cycling as hobbies. You also probably know that I fully endorse RunKeeper to help keep track of those endeavors. Part of what I like about RunKeeper and sites like it is the way they make use of incentives to encourage you, much in the way many social networking sites use virtual trophies and prizes, to keep you coming back and using the site. RunKeeper keeps track of your personal records and allows you to link to social networking sites to brag about your bests. MapMyRide has corporately-sponsored challenges in which you can compete for prizes. RunKeeper, I've heard, will actually e-mail you if you go too long without tracking an activity to see if you're taking a break. I don't think you're actually supposed to answer that question, but it is a good way to gently remind you to stop being a fat ass and get your butt in gear. Some of us need that. (I've never gotten this e-mail, by the way, but I've seen mention of it on the Internets.)

Related to this is a site called Earndit. Now, I'm not fully ready to endorse Earndit at this point, but I thought I'd mention it. Earndit links up with your RunKeeper account (or one of several other fitness tracking sites) and gives you points for your various exercises. You can later trade in these points for rewards, mostly gift cards to various fitness or fashion stores. My main reservation at this point (I haven't cashed in any points yet) is that almost all of the rewards seem to require you to purchase something you may not have purchased otherwise just to use the giftcard. Sometimes it's a buy-one-get-one-free offer. Sometimes it's a $50 credit for a store where the cheapest thing on offer is basically $70. True, they're good deals, but if you're not looking for looking for a dress shirt or two boxes of recovery supplements, you're not really winning anything. Despite this, I mention Earndit because, frankly, anything you can use to increase your motivation is a good thing. I will support anything that increases your motivation to get out and move. Well, maybe not chemical stimulants. Like meth. I do not support methamphetamines.

Seriously, don't do meth.

Plus3Network, on the other hand, I recommend without reservation. On this site, you can sign up with a corporate sponsor and a cause and the sponsor agrees to donate, walk-a-thon style, a certain amount of money for every exercise you log with the site. To be fair, you're not going to raise mind-blowing amounts of money, but that doesn't really matter to me. I'm already doing these workouts. The fact that my last 4-mile run only earned 14 cents doesn't matter. The fact that since I started in June I've only raised $17.76 for my cause doesn't matter. What does matter is that my workouts mean something more than just what they mean to me personally. I'm actually doing something good for someone else instead of just my waistline. I have no qualms supporting that and recommending it to others. Oh, and I actually log my exercises as a part of Team Fatty, a group that currently consists of 681 people, and we've already raised over $1,000 for our cause just this month. Your little bit really adds up when you're not the only one logging your workouts.

That's not to say that the site is perfect. Some of the returns for the various exercises they let you log are a little unequal. For example, if I run for about an hour, I'm going to be much more tired and have gone much farther than if I did the elliptical for the same length of time, and yet I raise more money with the elliptical. Also, I really wish that RunKeeper or some other smartphone app would ally with Plus3Network. Currently, only Garmin Communicator can automatically upload your GPS-tracked activities. I'm not going out to buy a Garmin GPS for my biking and runs when my Droid does the job perfectly well with RunKeeper already. But these are all minor complaints and my recommendation still stands without reservation.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Definitely don't do meth. The anti-meth billboards around town really creep me out.

I think the rewards are a great idea. Everyone likes to reward themselves for doing something good. You get to get that crazy expensive fitness item you wanted and not feel like a complete jerk because you only spent $30 instead of $80. Win/win.