There’s an app for that
As wearables consume our daily lives, we put a virtual sporting community to the test to find out its pros and cons.
When most of my friends were either holidaying or drinking farewell to the year, I was asking myself why my ass hurt and my legs were numb. I had signed up for an online challenge using fitness tracking app Strava, which entailed trying to ride 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Part of my motivation was aligned with the broader aims of the challenge: to stave off the inevitable festive weight gain. But I also wanted to explore the phenomenon of a virtual fitness community.
My experience with Strava’s Festive 500 saw my exact routes being tracked via GPS on my phone, with timings for individual segments and overall rides being updated almost instantaneously, and compared with those of others using the same app worldwide. I could receive “kudos” and snarky comments alike from my friends, as well as any encouragement they felt generous enough to give.
I must confess that this virtual competition made me take the challenge more seriously. There was pressure to not languish in the bottom half of the global leaderboard, and perish the thought of ( gasp) not completing the challenge at all!
And so I dragged myself out of bed at 5am and into some cycling attire, and started peddling. The first day or so was manageable, but then every muscle in my legs, butt and back, and eventually neck, arms and anything else that could be sore started to hurt.
But I persevered. If I stopped, my friends— and anyone else in Strava-verse—would see, and I would stop getting kudos. And if I didn’t have a better excuse than “it hurts too much,” I wouldn’t have been able to live it down.
So I plodded on and finally made it. Along the way, I completed a couple of rides with another friend who was also aiming to complete the same challenge. And it was those rides, with another
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