It’s almost now March, which is a great time of the year to start asking yourself how well you’re doing with your 2012 New Year’s Resolutions. Was getting in shape one of them? If so, just how many times per week are you going to the gym, or going for a run? If the answer is not quite enough, you may need a little extra motivation to get off that couch and get moving. Luckily, several apps and services exist that actually reward you for exercising. We have compiled a list of our favorite five ways to get rewarded for exercise, so if you need a little extra motivation to get back to the gym, check out the options below.
If you use RunKeeper, FitBit, or similar gadgets to keep track of your physical activity, EarndIt integrates with your device to calculate just how much exercise you’re actually getting. You can link your device with a Facebook,Twitter, Google, Windows Live, or Open ID account, and then start working out. You’ll automatically earn points from thereon, which can be redeemed for gift cards to real stores. Not to mention, you’ll also get your name placed on a leader board for some bragging rights, too.
If the idea of getting paid for working out intrigues you, you might like GymPact, an app we wrote about at the start of the new year that either pays you if you work out the number of times per week that you promise, or makes you pay if you fail to meet your gym quota. GymPact is a mobile app that allows users with gym membership to set a goal to work out a specific number of times per week, and and also place a financial stake on meeting those goals by setting a price on what you’ll pay if you miss a workout. GymPact then asks you to check in to your gym each time you work out to ensure you actually work out as you promised. Because you have to link a debit or credit card, the money you make from meeting your quota is pulled from the pool from those who miss their workouts. And don’t worry — if you set the bar too high, you can change your “pact” for the following week.
However, if you’re more motivated by others (and bragging rights) more than cold, hard cash, Fitocracy is a popular fitness social network that allows its users to compete for motivation. Users of Fitocracy can essentially turn fitness into a game, creating challenges with other users, creating groups, earning points, and earning badges for certain achievements. Fitocracy has a heavy social component, so it’s easy to share your achievements with Facebook friends and Twitter followers. So if you’re the type motivated by being the best — and telling everyone — Fitocracy is a great choice for motivating you to get to the gym.
Another site similar to EarndIt that rewards users for tracking their fitness and offering real, tangible rewards is Switch2Health. This site simply requires users to sign up to track and upload their activity every day, after which they can find great deals and rewards from businesses like Old Navy, Lowe’s, Netflix, and Amazon.com. You can track your activity using one of their devices, but the system will also soon be compatible with others you may already use like Nike+, Foursquare, and apps on your iPhone or Android.
If you have an iPhone, another popular service providing real rewards (read: gift certificates and coupons) is Nexercise, an app for the iPhone. This service not only provides badges for activity (Foursquare users will be instant fans), but can also foster some friendly competition. Of course, the app also promises the opportunity to receive coupons after working out that will be sent directly to your email address.
Would you use an app that provides monetary or social incentives to motivate you to work out? Let us know your thoughts about these apps in the comments.