Today, I’m serving up a true delicacy for all those struggling with low motivation to work out. Consistency is absolutely key for achieving and maintaining results. But how does one stay firm in their resolutions when faced with so many obstacles and distractions?! My theory proposes that gamification of fitness can be an excellent method to sustain motivation for keeping a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Now, how exactly does this work? Let me explain.
The idea for this post came about when I realized that fitness and bodybuilding, with all their meticulous calorie and rep counting, as well as narrow focus on behaviors that are still quite niche and schematic in the context of society, might appear somewhat “autistic.” And I don’t use this term in a derogatory manner.
Fitness enthusiasts who take their passion seriously can be seen as a type of nerd.
I thought to myself that due to its relative niche nature, repetitiveness, competitive aspect, and individualism, fitness can be transformed into a specific game, especially since it promises truly substantial rewards. After all, everyone who puts effort into something wants to reap the benefits.
But let’s take it step by step.
The essence of motivation
Honestly, at this stage of my fitness journey, I don’t really enjoy discussing the topic of workout motivation, because although undoubtedly important, it seems clichéd to the core. Moreover, I’ve long stopped grappling with it personally, so it’s not something that consumes my mental energy any more. I wonder if there’s anything fresh and non-trivial left to say on this topic.
Nevertheless, many people are just starting out and seeking motivation for exercising or trying to rediscover it after a break. They often think that it’s a factor that will simply resolve the matter on its own and enable them to achieve their fitness goals. This approach is only partially correct.
Motivation is crucial, it helps us take tangible actions that bring us closer to achieving our goal. However, it’s just one variable in the equation. People differ in terms of what stimulus most effectively propels them into action. That’s why it’s worth trying out various strategies or behaviors to see which ones aid in sustaining motivation for exercise. And here’s where the gamification of fitness comes in.
What is gamification?
When I hear gamification, I mainly think of a trendy marketing concept that allows agencies to secure budgets from their clients for innovative actions aimed at increasing customer engagement or sales.
If you’ve participated in any loyalty program, gamification in the form of collecting certain types of points that you can redeem for discounts or free products probably was part of it.
Regardless of its commercial application, the concept of gamification has a deeper, natural foundation.
Life itself is a kind of game with numerous levels, obstacles, NPCs, missions, and items to collect.
Humans have always sought to achieve various goals, feel satisfaction in relation to them, and earn rewards. Gamification harnesses these natural instincts and motivations, applying them to various aspects of life, including health and fitness, which is exactly what we’ll focus on in this post.
Gamification of fitness
For a long time, even though these thoughts didn’t have such a specific form yet, I felt that fitness is a form of gamifying life, a way to add an entertaining layer to it because, to me, sports, apart from the competition with oneself or others, are also about having fun. Yes, physical activity should be taken seriously as it impacts crucial areas of life, but in order to engage in it regularly, in any form, you must be able to derive joy from it.
This post takes this line of thinking to the next level. Up until now I’ve delved into so many aspects of fitness that I concluded the realm itself can be further gamified at a granular level, thus making it more exciting.
In a nutshell, my concept for gamification of fitness involves independently creating a system tailored to one’s situation, needs, and goals, utilizing the areas I discuss here. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to it. Below, I’ve let my imagination run a bit wild to show you how you can shift your perspective on the mundane aspects of diet and exercise, if that’s something you struggle with, and infuse them with elements of fun.
- Earning / Counting points
In this game, points can be any numbers and values that accompany you on your fitness journey. Bulking up? Each additional pound of body weight becomes points. Increasing carbs? Extra grams turn into points. Did more reps than last time? You just earned more points. I’m not saying you actually need to count them. It’s more about building a sense of progress, adding more building blocks to your project.
Here, you can use stages in the cycle of bulking, cutting, recomping, specific training days like arms or legs, or achieving milestones such as bench pressing 225, which propels you to that new level. The aim is to break the routine and push you towards pursuing the next stages in your training.
- Missions/ Achievements
Explore various gyms. Check off X workouts at each one. Do 3 leg workouts in a week. Strike up a conversation with your crush. The possibilities are truly numerous. In this category, anything that goes beyond your standard workout plan or constitutes an unexpected event related to it will fit in.
- Collecting items
Visit the troll’s den and acquire the magical stimulant and building potion (pre-workout and protein). Buy a new tank top in which you’ll feel like you won’t delete later. Do a solid, clean grocery shopping haul for the next few days. Any physical item related to your diet and training falls into this category.
- Character development
This form of fitness gamification is an integral and fundamental part of it. Through training, you work on developing yourself, maximizing strength, speed, endurance, size, and attractiveness. In this game, you’re the main character, and you should aim to make all indicators of your character’s progress as long as possible.
- Side quests
A really cool way to break the routine of hypertrophic or strength training is to enrich it with other physical activities. Cycling, running, swimming, team sports, or martial arts will allow you to engage your body and mind in new ways and rejuvenate your overall enthusiasm for movement. There will be days when you simply don’t feel like lifting, and in those times, instead of completely skipping activity, you can just choose a different one.
Work out at the top-rated gym in town, then visit the worst one. Eat 2000 / 6000 calories a day for a week. Box after every hypertrophy workout for two weeks. Quit caffeine for a month. Bet with a buddy on who can press more. Your imagination is the only limit here.
- Boss battles
Get bigger than the biggest guy at your gym or die trying! Just remember to save progress before attempting.
Post a cool selfie after a really intense workout, eat what you’ve been craving, take an extra rest day after a period of heavy training and spend it outdoors, in the sun. If you feel like you deserve it, indulge according to your preferences. The greatest reward of diet and training is a stable satisfaction and a justified sense of pride in oneself. Regardless of the standards you set for yourself, you should occasionally pause and relish what you’ve managed to achieve.
Some of the above ideas for gamification of fitness might seem a bit far-fetched or even absurd, but I’m just thinking out loud here. Use them as you see fit, modify and adopt those that will help you stay motivated for diet and training. Add your own, ones that suit your situation better.
Gamification of fitness is a cool way to sustain and enhance motivation for training, especially for those who struggle with forming habits or would like to create a narrative in their minds that aims to support and make fitness efforts more exciting.
The goal of fitness gamification is to increase your engagement in the ongoing project of building your physique, improving your well-being, and enhancing your health.
I want you to use this approach to change the way you think about diet and exercise. Consider these areas as a challenging yet rewarding game without an obvious end, but with a significant reward that you’ll start receiving daily as you enjoy your physique and well-being.
Oh, and you can also build an audience and share your fitness journey with them through selected channels, engaging and providing motivation to others, which is an interesting and rewarding experience in itself.
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