FriendFit Makes Working Out More Entertaining
At a Glance
Working out is hard work. And all too often, so too are the fitness services that are designed to help you map and track your workouts. But not FriendFit: This social network-meets-fitness logging and mapping service offers plenty of practical features for fitness buffs of all levels, but manages to make using them a whole lot of fun.
FriendFit is a free (ad-supported), cloud-based service that connects with your Facebook account. If you don't use Facebook--or if you simply want to keep the two services separate)--you can create a FriendFit account in a matter of minutes. And once you're logged into the service, FriendFit is a breeze to use. You can log fitness activities, plan group activities, and map workout routes from FriendFit's attractive home page.
FriendFit's focus is on fitness in general, unlike rivals such as WalkJogRun and MapMyRUN, which are more geared toward users who walk, bike, or run outdoors. FriendFit, meanwhile, lets you log all sorts of fitness activities, from bowling and Wii Fit use, to swimming and kayaking. When you log an activity, it shows up in your activity feed, which allows you to see, at a glance, how much exercise you're getting and how many calories you've burned. It's a great way to track and monitor your activity level.
Like WalkJogRun and MapMyRun, FriendFit does let you map your outdoor routes, using embedded Google Maps right on the site. I found FriendFit's map controls slightly more refined than those of its rivals, as Friend Fit automatically adjusted routes to match the curves and bends of the roads on the maps. Both MapMyRun and WalkJogRun plot your course in a straight line, regardless of bends in the road, and require you to make these adjustments manually, which can be time consuming. And, like MapMyRun, FriendFit lets you see 3D flyovers of workout routes, using a Google Earth plug-in.
FriendFit's social features include the ability to post your activities to Facebook; the default option is set to share, so be on the lookout for this option if you'd prefer to keep your activities off of your Facebook wall. The service includes a good set of privacy controls that are easy to access, and allow you to decide who can see the information you post and the routes you create. Additional social features include the ability to tag friends in your workouts and the ability to track workouts your friends have logged.
FriendFit's desktop interface is clean and attractive, and more user-friendly than rivals WalkJogRun and MapMyRun. But unlike those two rivals, and well-known competitor Nike+, FriendFit does not offer a mobile component. While MapMyRun and Nike+GPS let you track workouts using the GPS features of your smartphone (something WalkJogRun also is working on), FriendFit does not. Instead, this Web-based service allows users who don't have GPS-enabled mobile devices to map their workouts online, either before or after their run. (Note: The service does allow you to upload GPX files from GPS watches and devices.)
If you can live without a mobile counterpart, you'll find FriendFit to be a comprehensive and attractive workout partner. And it's one that will make at least some parts of your workout feel a lot less like work.
-- Liane Cassavoy