We all have that Facebook friend who posts things like, “Just a short run today – only did ten miles!” and “Nothing tastes better than fat-free cottage cheese wrapped in lettuce for lunch!” You can almost see the collective eye roll when messages like that pop up in your news feed. You don’t want to be that guy.
But the truth is, a like-minded group of friends can help you stay motivated, encourage you on those days you just don’t want to work out, and hold you accountable. A Stanford study showed that even a tiny bit of social support (like a recorded phone call) can keep you exercising more frequently and for longer periods of time. And the effects lasted for months after the social support was gone!
Luckily, there are a few websites out there that are specifically designed for people who want to share their workouts, motivate others, and give and receive advice on all things fitness. Best of all, they’re free! So stop inundating your friends’ feeds with updates about your latest gym excursion, and check out one of these sites, where you’ll be met with appreciation instead of eye rolls.
Fitocracy jumped on the gamification trend when it launched in 2010, and it’s only expanded since then. You earn ‘points’ each time you log a workout; get enough points, and you’ll level up! There are quests and challenges to take on: for example, get an extra 300 points for completing the “No Chicken Legs Here!” quest (perform any calf exercise, hamstring exercise, and quadriceps exercise in the same workout). Your friends will give you props for your workouts, and there are many active communities for people with different interests.
Like Fitocracy, Endomondo lets you connect with friends and track your workouts, but it’s more heavily focused on the training than the community. You can find friends via your current social networks, but you may not necessarily be connecting with strangers around the globe. What this site lacks in community building, though, it more than makes up for in exercise tracking. It syncs with your mobile device, so you can automatically upload your runs, and it’s easy to see exactly what workouts you’ve completed – and where you’re slacking.
If you’re looking to lose weight, it takes more than just an exercise routine, regardless of how much social support you have. Whereas Fitocracy and Endomondo are purely exercise communities, SparkPeople incorporates diet as well. Their resource center holds over 600,000 healthy and appetizing recipes. You can also use their calorie counter to keep track with your diet and eating habits. SparkPeople’s services also include personalized fitness programs and a community of millions ready to support you on your new journey.
Like SparkPeople, MyFitnessPal also helps you stay on top of your diet with a helpful calorie counter and meal logging system. Their database allows you to search nutrition facts for over 11 million foods, which is a great way to educate yourself on exactly what you’re consuming. You can even scan the barcodes of certain food packages to simplify the logging process. The MyFitnessPal blog will keep you up to date with fitness tips, recipes, and inspirational before and after photos of your fellow community members.
Visual learners will appreciate the over 500 free workout videos that FitnessBlender releases each week. Their belief is that fitness should be more easily accessible to everyone, so they provide their community members with professionally produced videos for any fitness level and goal. They also offer a customizable calendar to help you schedule and build a workout regimen that fits your unique needs. Their international community forum is also a great place to seek encouragement and share your story.
Any kind of social support can help you reach your fitness goals, whether it’s a virtual friend or someone you meet up with in real life. Everyone has low-energy days, or questions about how to get the best results, but with a community of people who have similar fitness goals, you can empathize with one another and share your success stories! Give your Facebook friends a break, and post some updates on one of these sites, where your new fitness-minded friends will appreciate it!