Exercise in peer pressure adds competitive edge to fitness

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2012, 12:00am

Endomondo Sports Tracker
Rating 8/10

I'm guilty of doing Endomondo a disservice. I took a quick look a while back and decided it was basic and the icon and name irritated me for some reason. A bad day at the office perhaps. But it meant I missed out on Endomondo's strength: it fires up your inner competitiveness, motivating you to exercise ... and then exercise some more.

Like many exercise apps, Endomondo uses the smartphone's global positioning system to track your workout, from mountain biking to walking. Some of the options - such as yoga - seem a bit nonsensical, so I didn't try them out.

As you exercise, you can track your statistics - duration, distance, calorie burn, heart rate (if using a monitor) - either by taking a quick peek at the workout screen, or by choosing to receive updates from a mechanical Endomondo voice. You can challenge yourself with a distance goal, and the app will note your best and worst times. Your route is tracked and can be viewed on a satellite or graphic map.

At the end of your workout, you get a breakdown of more data including average speed, maximum speed, and split times for laps (usually a kilometre long). The app also provides your elevation change during the workout, but this seems unreliable.

Where Endomondo truly shines is through its online features and community function. When you set up the app, you are asked to create an account. Doing so gives you access to the world of Endomondo, where you can challenge friends or follow a route set by someone else and see how you compare.

I set up a challenge to run 100 kilometres within seven weeks and invited friends and colleagues to do the same. By making the challenge public, my friends were able to invite their friends, so now 10 of us are involved.

Now every time I run with Endomondo, my kilometres are automatically added to that challenge, and any other challenge I may have joined. We are a fired-up group; so much so that even though it is 'my' challenge, I'm currently in fifth place. I'm itching to get out and change that, and that is why it works so well.

The 'pro' version of Endomondo (US$3.99) has a little more functionality and allows you to set more personal challenges on the phone itself.