Community

Make A Game Of It — How Personal Trackers And Connected Apps Keep Fitness A Routine

By Debbie Gallagher, operations consultant for Windstream in North Carolina   |   Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Staying fit at 50 is both easier and harder than it’s ever been. 

People lose lean muscle beginning in their 30s and shrink a half inch each decade beginning at 40, eeck!. That lean muscle is then replaced by fat, making aging a double dose of work. The muscle we need for exercise is harder to come by just as the fat we’re trying to ward off with exercise is creeping in. 

Add to that longer work hours, the ubiquitous food temptations, and raising a family as a single parent, in my case, and holding fast to a workout routine can feel like trying to give a cat a bath.

The good news? It’s more fun than it’s ever been, thanks to Internet-enabled technology. I’m a certified personal trainer, and two web-enabled technologies that really stand out are fitness trackers and food-nutrition apps.

A few years ago I bought a Fitbit and now have an Apple Watch. Both are pedometers, sleep trackers and activity monitors. They are almost like personal trainers, too! When I’ve been sitting at work too long, I get an alert reminding me to get up and move around! The Apple Watch is WiFi-connected; the Fitbit is Bluetooth-enabled. Even walkers really need a device keeping them accountable for their stats — times, miles and improvement.

My workout data, my steps each day, and my sleep can all by inventoried. I can chart if I’m improving or not, making fitness more of a game. Am I collecting gold stars, or dangerously close to detention?

Because it’s like a game, I don’t always think of this afternoon’s workout in terms of impending discomfort (ugh, Stairmaster — I don’t have it in me!) but in terms of earning something. Being able to log a good workout — or even just a completed workout — is progress!

Anyone committed to tracking workout routines should also consider tracking their nutrition. Lose It! is a smart phone app that helps you track all your food and drinks; you can even scan barcodes or snap pictures of what you’re eating in order to track calories. Those not out to shave pounds can still want to watch their sodium, carbs and fats. You may be surprised by what you eat!  

These apps and trackers aren’t fun in and of themselves. The fun is making a fitness plan and feeling recognized for sticking to it, even by a machine that doesn’t care! In fitness circles, we say it’s the application of game theory (or gamification)— think competition, collecting valuables, scoring, even cheering — to something that isn’t a game. For instance, when Fitbit wearers take their 10,000th step in a day, the watch celebrates by vibrating excitedly and flashing. Rationally, we know the watch doesn’t care, and 10,000 steps is an arbitrary finish line, but that recognition gives us a little kick of endorphins, the feel-good hormone, and that tiny reward that will change habits over time. 

I’ve been dedicated to fitness my whole life. When I was a kid, I’d set out to run a mile around my family’s farm. I was also a volleyball player at Western Carolina University. I’ve worked out to Jane Fonda tapes, “stepped it up” to step aerobics, kickboxing, yoga, you name it. Before fitness trackers, I didn’t track my workouts as diligently, and, of course, there weren’t any apps to keep track of workouts! 

Today, I visit Orangetheory Fitness, the hot new retail fitness center that’s popping up all over the place. At Windstream, I’m an operations consultant, and I sold two ISP contracts to Orangetheory shops in our market. Orangetheory isn’t reinventing exercise — there are all the same treadmills and rowing machines and elastic bands and free weights you’d find anywhere.

What’s different, founder Dave Long says, is Orangetheory helps reassure us that we’re working hard, and hard work matters to our intellectual and psychological wellbeing. With heart monitors that broadcast exertion and tally weekly and monthly data, it’s giving us information we can use to reaffirm our exercise plan.

Whether it’s Lose It!, sleep monitoring or listening to a Pandora playlist while running a route I created on Map My Run — the Internet is making workout routines and fitness plans more interactive and self-determining. Having a strong, reliable Kinetic by Windstream Internet connection keeps you plugged into those fitness channels. As more and more fitness communities go online (like Peloton’s virtual spin classes), an uninterrupted connection with ample bandwidth will be as important as workout equipment or a refrigerator stocked with fruits and vegetables. 

If you’ve been wondering if your Internet service is sized right for your fitness and entertainment needs, call Kinetic by Windstream today, (866) 445-8084, or visit Windstream.com/internet.