The Obstacle: My Workout Buddy Dropped Out
How to Overcome It
You need someone to hold you accountable, but that person doesn’t have to be walking right beside you. Technology makes it possible to check in with and compete against workout partners all over the country.
Plan of Attack
These apps and websites can keep you honest and offer a little camaraderie along with the fun of gaming. (And unlike real-life friends, your virtual buddies will never coerce you into a post-workout glass of wine.)
If you want to put your money where your mouth is: At 21habit.com, you pay $21 to set a workout goal that you commit to doing for three weeks—for example, “I will take the stairs every day this week.” For every day that you succeed, you get $1 back. (You’re on the honor system here.) If you don’t follow through, the $1 goes to nonprofits, such as the American Cancer Society and Amnesty International. You can tweet your successes as you rack them up or get a thumbs-down on the site calendar—and lose a dollar—if you fail. At the end of three weeks, you collect your money. (Hopefully all of it.)
If you hate to let other people down: Healthywage.com sponsors a weight-loss competition, called the Matchup, in which teams of five people pay $75 a person to compete for three months to win $10,000 in cash. (The team that loses the greatest percentage of weight wins; weight verifications are required at a health club or doctor’s office, via YouTube, or through Weight Watchers.) You can form your own team or the site can match you with one. Other challenges are more solo-oriented but still have a cash incentive. In one, you bet $150 that you can lose 10 percent of your body weight over six months. If you do, you earn $300.
If you love competition and social interaction: Try Fitocracy.com, which is like Facebook for fitness enthusiasts. This exercise tracker with a gaming spin lets you earn points for workouts, sends you on quests (challenges that can earn you bonus points), catapults you to different levels, and compliments your progress (“How does it feel to be awesome?”). You can also track the progress of other people, earn badges, and give and get props.