Pokémon Go: The best fitness app ever?

pokemon go fitness app review

Image source: Tumblr/beardedjack_
Is catching them all getting the public in shape?

It’s bigger than Tinder, going to be bigger than Twitter and is probably going to save Nintendo after that terrible thing called the Wii-U. Pokémon Go is huge. But what does it have to do with us?

Well as a happy side effect of more or less everyone who once had a Gameboy colour playing this ridiculously popular game, it seems more people are walking. Our lovely web developer @beardedjack_ even said “I don’t need a fitness app, I’ve got this”; and indeed he isn’t the only one to mutter such an idea.

So what is Pokémon Go and will it actually help you stay fit?

What is Pokémon Go?

pokemon go overview

Now you can see your local town in augmented reality!

In short, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality app, that creates Pokémon in the “real” world, and it is up to you to go and “catch” them. It uses GPS to track your location, and your activity, and also to decide where on earth it should hide a Pikachu, Squirtle or Charmander.

There are Pokémon gyms just like in the classic games, and you can battle people too.

In terms of numbers of people who have the app, it, again at the time of writing, has leapfrogged Tinder in terms of Android downloads, and on US numbers alone, has about 7.5M downloads. So it’s pretty popular.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, what does it have to do with fitness?

How does Pokémon Go help you stay fit?

So, for context, I'm a "bit" overweight. Something in the above 500 pounds range. Just got pokemon go the day before yesterday, but the servers were down the whole time. I was finally able to get online yesterday afternoon. I could lie and say I set an outrageous goal for myself and somehow managed to meet it; but really I was just trying to catch some pokemon. I could also lie and say I feel great; but no, All I feel now is pain. Didn't feel too bad while walking, but after sitting down to write this post, man is it catching up with me fast. I "can't wait" to find out how I feel tomorrow.

If you want to find Pokémon, you have to go to their location, based on a real life map. This means that users have been walking way more than they usually would. You even get a “medal” if you walked 10km. So while this might not be hugely taxing for some, for those who are looking to lose weight, or who are otherwise engaged with things like the remake of Doom on the PS4, then this offers a way to get them out and about.

There isn’t much more to it than that in truth, but where it is better than a traditional fitness app, is that it doesn’t feel like one. If you have a friend that is on the lazy side, ask them two questions.

Question 1) Do you want to go out with me for a long walk, or maybe a run?
Question 2) Shall we go for a Pokémon hunting session?

Exercise is seen as a chore for many, and just like if you blend all your vegetables into a well seasoned soup to make them “easier” to consume, this makes exercise more accessible, albeit at a level that most people could manage.

What are the drawbacks?

Despite the VERY obvious warning that you need to mind your surroundings, people have been getting injured. There have been reports of grazes, cuts and bruises, and on a different note, one woman found a dead body while looking for a Pokémon.

Also, you wouldn’t exercise in a holocaust museum, or loiter outside someone’s house, but Poke-players have been doing this, which let’s face it, isn’t really on.

There is also the very obvious drawback that you might not like Pokémon. So even if you are someone who could do with a bit of exercise, if binge watching Netflix is more your thing, this isn’t going to help.

So is Pokemon the best fitness app ever?

Not really, but it is better than nothing.

If you are a Pokémon fan, or overweight, or an overweight Pokémon fan, then this is ideal for you. Instead of sitting looking at a screen, you will be looking at a screen while walking or jogging up to 10k. The only drawback is that for you to keep improving your fitness, you will have to keep going further or run harder. At some point you will reach a plateau, but hopefully, that will be far off.

For those already in shape, this is a good way to mix things up, but in terms of actually helping you lift, or improve your 1RM, then this is not going to really do that much.

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