Update: Here's a fitocracy invite (if you want one)
I've been using sparkpeople for several years now, to track my workouts and weight progress. I heard about fitocracy a while back. It's gotten a fair bit of buzz in the geek crowd, and I've been hoping to play with that to see how they compare - but they never did get back to me with an invite... so I googled and grabbed one from a random fitness website :)
So now I can finally have a look at it and see what all the fuss it about, and find out which of the two I prefer. I've only been using fitocracy for a month, but here's my pros/cons so far.
- Founded by fitness enthusiasts
- Better centred around actual fitness scores (eg you can graph your reps or dumbell-weight, not just "number of times logged")
- Better-designed interface (cleaner, better inter-page linkage, less cruft etc)
- Can enter individual sets (rep/weight) all at once - which makes drop-sets and ladders much easier
- Can save a "routine" full of sets (even from different exercise types) and copy it to a new day
- Can actually can deal with the metric system! In every place where units are used (both entry and display and on graphs)
- More motivating scoring system (at least I think), including fun quests etc
- It tracks and notifies you if you've reached a new personal best (eg more reps, more weight, faster time etc)
- Scoring system seem better weighted towards actually improving a person's exercise/fitness, rather than creating the user-generated content (or reading/viewing the sponsored content)
- The developers are active in the forums, and actively work to change the system to meet the community's goals.
- freemium - I like that they make a premium service available. That means they may not end up as advertising-supported site (which skews feature-design through the who is the real user here problem)
- *still* in beta, and you need an invite (you can get one yourself from my fitocracy invite code - I got mine from spartanwarrior's blogpost )
- Some "growing pains" style bugs now and then (though I notice they disappear very quickly)
- No run-distance tracker (you have to use another tool)
- Smaller community (so far)
- Still putting together a full set of data (eg exercises and advice), though it's sufficient for general use, and they take suggestions.
- Can't go back and add your past workouts if you're, say, halfway through a multi-week challenge and just arrived on the site (4 days back only, even if you've *just arrived*)
- Can't track goals you're working towards (eg goal weight/reps/distance ?) - though you can graph your current "personal best"
- Not really set up at all for weight-loss tracking (you can enter your weight, but can't track it, and there are no quests or points for weight loss goals)
- Founded by weight loss enthusiasts
- Has extensive food/calorie/nutrition-tracking
- Larger range of options - eg tracking custom measurements/goals/activities etc
- A huge library of fitness and health information already
- Regular health-based news, recipe books and personal webpage (including blogging)
- Can go back and add past workouts at any time in the past (good for migrating to a new site and not losing your past)
- Nice widgets eg the "starting/current/goal weight" tracker.
- Integrated distance-tracking tool (uses google, but then you can add your time and click "add to today's workout")
- Can set/track long-term and per-week goals (eg long term goal of 60kg or "do 650 calories of cardio each week")
- It's actually very difficult to put in strength-training. They assume you do same-rep/weight sets so drop-sets or ladders have to be entered over and over again one at a time.
- I think the points-system rewards strange things eg you get much more points for watching their advertising or for blogging, making recipes and taking polls/quizzes than actually doing exercise - this makes me feel that they are rewarding user-generated-content creation (which makes their site look better) rather than actual exercise/weight/loss (which rewards the actual person and is the stated purpose of the site)
- Strength-training has bad graphing - you can't graph individual exercises whether by rep/weight or even number of times done (even though you can enter the info)... only by "number of training sets in total" (with all exercises mashed into one blob)
- Excessive flashy/movey ads everywhere - which slow the site-load down and are also annoying. They are also prone to z-index problems (ie the menus sometimes appear *under* the ads)
- Years later and they still don't have metric graphs. It seems like they've only made lip-service towards the metric system. I can enter my weight in kilos, but all distances are entered/tracked in miles.
- General US-centric approach: I've noticed many, many polls/quizzes and articles that refer to US-only brands/traditions and culture.
- No Premium Service option. The site is clearly suffering the problems of a free service: heavy ads, frakking around with links etc - I would have paid for it to actually work the way I want to (and get rid of those ads) but there's no option for that. Unfortunately, this is because the CEO/founder had publicly stated that SP will always be free. I'm sure that seemed a good idea to start with... but as their userbase rose dramatically, they've clearly had to fill the gap with advertising - thus leading to the change of "real users"
My personal conclusions
Sparkpeople has done me great service, and I can't really complain too much about a free service. Still, it's been around for a long time now - and they seem to have stopped improving the actual exercise/weight features and moved to mainly improving the information and social aspects. These aren't the bits that brought me to sparkpeople in the first place. I want a great tool for measuring my progress - not just another "generic health information" website (plus recipes!). sparkpeople is centred around building the sparkpeople community. That's fine... but I'm increasingly feeling that it's just not for me.
So - is fitocracy a good replacement? So far I think the answer is yes. It provides a better tool for the kinds of things that I want from an exercise logger. It also has added community features which, in this case, don't seem to be getting in the way. It's still unfinished, and yet it has a more professional "finish" to it than sparkpeople has ever managed. From what I can tell - the only advantages that sparkpeople has over fitocracy are the recipe/food-logging tools (which I never use anyway) and the vast back-catalogue of information provided by the sparkpeople community (both paid-for and free), which is something that will come to fitocracy with time.
For a little while longer I'm going to maintain both - mainly because I have three years' worth of past-data in sparkpeople (which is motivating for me). But if fitocracy ever gave me a way of importing that, I don't think I have any hesitation in switching permanently.
What do you think? have you used them both? Have I missed something important?