As quantified self devices and services come into their own, gamified social fitness tracker Fitocracy has found itself smack dab in the middle of a movement. But alas! The 500 Startups-backed company isn’t shoving wrist bands, smartwatches or pocket pedometers in the faces of its users. In fact, founder Richard Talens believes that the quantified self devices of today actually encourage the wrong strategy of “eat less, move more.”
Instead, Fitocracy has grown to host over one million users, which it announced this morning, by focusing on true progress through gamification. Talens explains that streaks, as seen with the Nike FuelBand (11 days making goal, for example) can be both motivational and demotivational. Rather than focusing on the number of days you can work out in a row, the focus should be on running a faster mile time or lifting heavier weight, aka progress.
This is how Fitocracy keeps its users in shape. Talens told TechCrunch that Fitocracy users are in the app for more than five hours a month, making them more engaged than users across any of the other social networks except Facebook.
“They come back seven days a week, even if they’re not working out, just because they’re so engrossed by the community,” said Talens. Speaking of community, Fitocracy has a very special new member this morning, in celebration of 1 million users.
Arnold Schwarzenegger will be partnering with the platform with his own challenge. The Challenge from Arnold will take 15 to 20 minutes, and will be centered around weight lifting (classic Arnold).
Fitocracy works by letting users provide challenges (sometimes to see who can run the fastest mile or lift the most weight), which provides the motivation for its large group of users. When you participate in a challenge, your activity is tracked and you’re rewarded for your progress with points.
With Arnold’s Spark Challenges, those points will be converted into a new type of currency called “spark points.” Enough spark points per month gets the user a Super Elite Fire Badge.
Here’s what Arnold had to say about it:
From my first day of training, I’ve known the importance of counting reps to constantly improve. Then, my only technology was chalk and a chalkboard, but innovation has opened up endless possibilities to track health and fitness. That’s why I’m excited to launch this challenge with Fitocracy, so that we can inspire others to find the joy in doing one more rep today than they did yesterday. We are starting small, with a 15 minute “Spark Challenge”, but we expect big results as people discover the power of tracking their health and fitness.
Though Fitocracy has had some big names on the platform, Arnold is far and away the most mainstream celebrity to join the fitness tracking network.
Fitocracy’s growth has been pretty incredible. The company boasted around 300,000 users when it launched out of beta almost one year ago. Since then, it has launched an iOS app which has surely increased engagement, and grown to now serve over one million highly engaged users.