Big News

Social Workout Works Out

Five years ago, two people connected in the comment threads of this site. They were part of our original crew of literate, urbane, fitness nerds. Pretty soon, he was inviting her to costumed mud races, and she was writing warm odes to him. In hashtags, she denied her love, but it wasn't long before they discretely made public their mutual hearting. From the start, they've been a force for the good, and together they flogged thousands of pushups, crunches, and burpees, and even co-produced an extraordinary short film.

This weekend our old friends msh258 and killercadoogan were married. We smile and salute them. At Social Workout HQ today, we will all hold a ceremonial two minute plank in their honor.

Onward friends and lovers!

Pay to Not Play

CVS Employee Wellness Screening: Fair or Foul?

Starting May 1st, reports the Boston Herald, CVS Caremark Corps will require all employees on its health insurance plan to submit to regular wellness screenings. Should they opt out of the screening, employees are subject to a fine of $50 per month, or $600 per year.

CVS' policy is just the latest in a series of increasinglly aggressive and controversial attempts by companies to reign in their health care costs. CVS aims to "incent our colleagues to improve their health care and manage health costs," but the move is seen by some as an invasive and punitive policy that could lead to discrimination against unhealthy or disabled workers. 

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Sacred Sweat

Does the Pope Sweat?

It's Day One of a new papal regime. This got us to thinking: What's the Pope's daily routine, and does he go to the gym? Dawn Patrolers will recall that we also covered the daily routine of the Dalai Lama. Call it the Sacred Sweat series.

It's early to know how Pope Francis will spend his days, but we do know that he will not be running any marathons. Turns out Francis is working with only one lung, having had the other removed due to dangerous teenage infection. Outgoing Benedict wasn't much of a cardio fiend, either. He limited his daily exercise to a 10 minute walk around the Apostolic Palace, but he also kept a strict and healthy schedule: Up at 5AM after six hours of sleep, a Mediterannean diet, sans alcohol, and plenty of prayer.

The public record suggests that fitness, in the conventional sense, has not been a major preoccupation of the Vatican. True, Pope Pius XII, a controversial pontiff who presided over Catholicism during World War II, used a rowing machine in his youth. By the time he was Pope, however, Pius' routine was strictly 15 minutes of "knee bends and arm flexes" timed with a gold Swiss watch.

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Innovation

The Complete, Unabridged List of Social Fitness and Wellness Sites, Apps, and Devices

We've been compiling an exhaustive list of interesting products in the "social fitness/wellness" space. We're now well over one hundred, and it's clearly time to start sharing the love. If you'd like to make additions or changes, please tell us about it!

Personal Stories

Von Hottie On Physique 57, Pre-Natal Yoga, and Her Trainer's Girlfriend

Yesterday was an epic fitness day, in three parts. Get cozy, it's a big story...

I took a morning Physique 57 class with a lady friend. I've always been curious about just what kind of workout Kelly Ripa is doing! It was a pretty intense toning workout, lots of jiggling, squatting, and thrusting of things while on your tippy toes. I was in an intermediate class, so I felt like an impostor floppy fish floundering in a sea of lithe Lululemon dolphins.

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Videos

Vintage Physical Education Propaganda

Thanks to Meret H. and Jared R. for digging up this video of days gone by in a sunny, very clean-cut California....

Online & Video

Research

Americans Walk Less than Anyone, Including the Amish and their Own Grandparents

This just in via Andrew Sullivan: The average American walks 5,117 steps per day, which ranks them way below (among others) the Swiss and the Aussies, who log about 9,600 steps daily on average, AND the Japanese, who are at 7,100 steps per day.

Slackers! Sullivan links to a nice summary of recent walking research by Wayne Curtis. Turns out we're historically slothful. Writes Curtis: "In 1906, just as cars were coming into vogue, the nation was afflicted by a small outbreak of long-distance walking — multi-day walking races and long-distance walkers seemed to be tromping everywhere."

How far would the average 19th Century American walk in a day? To sort that out, researchers apparently visited the Old Order of Amish in Canada, and equipped those folks with pedometers. This, it seemed, a reasonable simulation of normal 19th Century life. Turns out the average non-motorized Amish male logs 18,425 steps per day, or roughly nine miles. 

FitBitten

How Choosing a Pedometer Gave Me an Existential Crisis

We all know that I'm a woman who believes in the transformative power of accessories.Would I have ever survived a three-hour spin class without my tutu? Nope! Would I have ever learned to climb the aerial silks without my butt sequins? Never! Would I even consider lifting big weights without the presence of my trainer, Buffin*? Heaven forbid! So, when I started wondering how I would count my daily 10,000 steps for the True North challenge, I suddenly felt like my choice of tracking device could be a defining moment in my life. Which activity tracker would best convey, "You are so badass, you can walk for miles while wearing hot pink lipstick, and success, my friend, will be yours forever?" I wanted it all - a device that would count my steps, boost my morale, cuddle with me at night, and match my outfit.

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Funded

Lift Gets a Lift

The "quantified self" is growing up. TechCrunch reports that San Francisco-based Lift, the company behind the eponymous habit tracking iPhone App, has raised $2.5 million from a crew of A-list investors. Joining the Twitter braintrust who seeded the company are a group of Silicon Valley heavyweights AND some big media names including Tony Robbins and Timothy Ferriss. Last week, please recall, virtual weightloss/personal training site Retrofit raised $8 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Will all the money and technology actually get people to step away from their chips and screens? Short answer: Yes, but the products have a long way to go....

Shiny New Things

Personal Tracking Device Mania!

Misfit ShineMove over Fitbit, Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up, Larklife, and all the rest, here comes Misfit Shine! Behold, the Misfit is smaller and shinier than it's competition, and it plays nicely with jean pockets and t-shirt collars. More to the point, it can tell when you're swimming or riding a bicycle which is a first in the category.

What also sets the Shine apart is that it's not yet available for sale. The product is still in the prototype stage, and so the San Francisco-based Misfit crew has launched an Indigogo campaign (kind of like Kickstarter) to raise the funds to take their device from dream to reality. Thusfar, they've raised $348K, crushing their own 100K goal.

That still doesn't seem like quite enough of a war chest, however, to compete with Nike. Get out your credit cards! We love the tiny, shiny form factor, and are generally glad to see that the pot of tracking device innovation boileth over. Our big question remains: What social software platform will integrate all these disparate hardware devices so we can all play together virtual-like? Just asking.

Press

Social Workout Makes Esquire's Top Social Fitness List

A. J. Jacobs, the World's Healthiest Man, has nicely included Social Workout in his recent Esquire magazine round up of top "social fitness" sites. Cool! It's a funny, short read and includes info on the big devices (FitBit, Nike+, Withings), as well as Social Workout, Fitocracy and Stickk.

"There are many good and noble reasons to exercise. It cuts down on stress. Keeps your gut from becoming walrusesque. Helps ensure you'll stick around long enough to see your kids go to the prom. But my main motivation for exercise these days? To humiliate my friend Kevin....

Quantified Self

The Future of Bracelets

David Pogue on the Times reviews the Nike FuelBand and the new-and-improved UP band by Jawbone. His verdict: FuelBand is a "one trick pony," but a pretty slick one. Up aims higher, but falls a bit short of its goals due to a few pesky design flaws. Still, he says, it's "not bad for a rubber band." Our take: The bracelet form factor has arrived, and it's a big deal. People WANT to wear things on their wrists, and the Pogue review marks an inflection point in the slow, inexorable advance of wearable computing and self-quantification. Not to be too melodramatic, or anything....

Online & Video

Mad Skillz

Soccer Art!

Whimsical Friday mind-body inspiration. Oh to be a young white male with too much time on your hands....

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Twinkie Defense

Drop the Pop!

Endomondo Coca-ColaA new Harvard study of nearly 1,878 Boston area high schoolers suggests that "heavy soda drinkers were much more prone to violent behavior than other teens." Doh! Apparently the effect is similar, but possibly stronger, than that of alcohol. Got issues with your Mountain Dew? Just click through to Social Workout's battle-tested soda drinking "limit" goals....

Deals

Endomondo Scores Big Coke Deal

Endomondo Coca-ColaToday's big social fitness headline: Coca-Cola forms "strategic alliance" with Danish fitness app maker Endomondo. Coke, (like Pepsi), is pushing to instill health-consciousness into its brand. Who says those Bloombergian anti-soda ads don't carry some weight? In any event, we approve of the move, which gives Coke's sports drink, Powerade, immediate daily exposure to Endo's global athlete-end users. Endomondo, clearly, gets a big marketing push. The service currently claims 12 million users, though unclear how many of those are active.

Other Places

Ancient Greeks

Health Secrets of the Aegean

Evangelos KoutisOh to be Greek and living on the island of Ikaria, where people live to be 100, laughing, dancing, and, um, still having sex. The New York Times reports today on a study of Ikarian men between 65 and 100, noting that "80 percent of them claimed to have sex regularly, and a quarter of that self-reported group said they were doing so with “good duration” and “achievement.”

The dude in the picture is Evangelos Koutis, age 99. To paraphrase When Harry Met Sally, "I'll have what he's having."

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Other Places

Research

Sitting Will Still Kill You

Sitting manThe evidence is mounting that excessive sitting will, um, shorten your life. "Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25," reports the NY Times today, "reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes."

Put another way: "An adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV."

Ouch. And, get this, these results hold even for people who also exercise. Exercise is critical, but lot's of sitting remains dangerous even still. The good news, however, is that there is a simple solution: Get up and move around! Run, don't walk to Social Workout, and set yourself a goal: Workday stretch breaks for example, or maybe you want to track your walking minutes, miles, or steps?

Choose your metric, and begin managing what you measure. We've got your back.

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