Now that the weather is cooler, I take my runs outdoor (despite being from a warm-climate country, I absolutely DESPISE running outdoors in warm weather). Some days are good, while some days I have to keep switching my playlists to pump myself through the final distances. Then I came across this article in BBC, which talks about being an app which incorporates adventures into your run.

The article wrote about “Running Stories” (still currently being piloted, I believe), where you’re a secret agent and you have to run in order to eliminate criminals (unfortunately, I am unable to find detailed information on the app – but you get the gist). That is definitely one way to switch things up from plain ol’ Spotify or Nike Run Club.

Further digging brought me to a whole new world of running game apps. There’s apparently even an app that enables you to imagine that you’re being chased by zombies, and the only way to keep alive is to, well, run (Zombies, Run!). Another app allows you to Run An Empire while running – you claim territories by running near it in real life (very Pokemon Go -ish). That’s a really smart way to turn a despicable activity (yes, running) to something fun.

Screenshot of Zombies 5K

Another notable way of making exercise “cool” was done by Zouk in Singapore, albeit for mixed reasons. Zouk is one of the famous nightclubs in Singapore and Malaysia, and due to the pandemic, they were forced to close their doors – and shut off their main source of income. In turn, they collaborated with Absolute Cycle (a spinning studio). Now, Absolute Cycle has access to Zouk’s huge, double-storey nightclub space, allowing them to welcome more spinners, without breaking social distancing rules. It’s the best win-win case I’ve seen in a while. Both companies reduce their losses. Younger people would be more tempted to give spinning a try, now that Zouk’s name on it, and spinners get to have a pumping session with DJs spinning good beats!

It’s definitely a more refreshing way for gyms/exercise studios to continue their business during the pandemic, instead of focusing on live streams and online video classes. Of course, live streams and online videos will still be the way to go if we’re told to stay home.

Besides games and collaborations, there are also apps which uses charity as a reason to workout. Charity Miles, for example, turns the distance you cover to monetary values (sponsored by other companies) that you can donate to your choice of charities! I think these ideas are lesser when it comes to on-the-go fun, but more on the post run satisfaction.

Some apps, like Sweatcoin, allows you to collect points as you move (walks or runs). These points contain monetary values, which then can be used to redeem things (that’s being offered on the apps) for a lower price. Seems foolish to not be going for it, but it’s going to be a while until you built up sufficient amount of Sweatcoins.

I think these creative ways to incorporate fun into workouts are excellent, not only to “attract” people to be active, but also to keep up the fun for those who are regularly exercising. I haven’t found anything interesting such as running games for people who prefer to stick with weightlifting or other non-running exercises, but then again, I haven’t done a thorough search. Even if there is none right now, who knows? Creativity knows no bound.  

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  • Wakana.K
    Posted November 11, 2020 at 6:07 am 0Likes

    Thank you so much for your fascinating post! I personally started to work out last summer both for physical and mental health, but I am getting bored with simple and repetitive exercises. Thus, I am impressed by the ideas that combine gamification with boring simple exercises. And even in more inclusive ways than sitting and playing a video game in front of the TV. Especially, I found Zombies, Run! very creative, and I am curious if our mentality actually changes our physical conditions such as causing more adrenaline because of an imagined threat. I would definitely try this app!!

  • abrikoos
    Posted December 18, 2020 at 5:18 pm 0Likes

    This is some nice inspiration now that we’ve got to work out at home again. I think the narrative elements in apps such as Zombies, Run! are a very useful tool to motivate people who are not necessarily out to run to be better – but just to get some movement. At the start of the lockdown, I used the app DownDog a lot to do yoga, but I found it lacking after a while: you’re just doing the movements, but there is no other motivation than the exercise itself. I was surprised by this, but I missed the meditations and other spiritual stuff attached to yoga – because they gave me a reason to do these movements beyond “exercise.” So for Run, Zombies!, the story is a nice motivator to go for a run, as well as keeping you running, then just trying to get to certain numbers. I would like similar apps for other kinds of exercises, but alas – I’m only familiar with the yoga one.

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