BJJ: Offering the Community Others Crave

A while back I started using the app Fitocracy on my phone- the general premise behind it is you put in whatever exercise you have been doing, and in return you are given points for those activities. You can complete ‘quests’ and ‘level up’ as you go along. There is also an option to pay for the service and engage in ‘duels’ with fellow members to see who can gain the most points for a specific activity, or just a free for all (I think, I’m a little sketchy on those details as I haven’t opted for the paid membership).

Admittedly I’ve been pretty intermittent with plugging activities since I signed up: recently I’ve been making an effort to add activities and attempting to engage in their online community. I’m not doing very well in regards to that latter part, but hey, I’m trying. I’ve also been using myfitnesspal recently, which I will definitely talk about in a later post.

I’ve noticed some of the other BJJ people that I have friended, or followed on the app/site have also been absent from the site. There are one or two I still see plugging in activities on my feed, and of course there’s taking into account people getting busy with life, as well as just plain old natural attrition, but I began to wonder if it had something to do with community.

I think Fitocracy is excellent particularly for people who are engaged in exercise where continued interaction with others is completely voluntary: running, weight lifting, rock climbing. Sure, you can ask someone to spot you, but there’s no obligation on either side to continue conversation or any sort of interaction. I’ve been a member at what would be considered more standard gyms, and to be perfectly honest it’s a hard environment to break into, especially if you are just starting out- at least that’s how I felt. Sure, no one stopped me from using equipment, but no one seemed particularly keen on saying “hello” either. And to be perfectly honest you don’t want to be “that guy”, the one that is an annoyance when someone is trying to focus on their workout. At least that’s how I felt: so you do what everyone else does- you put in your headphones, keep your head down, and only talk to people when it’s absolutely necessary. Of course there are exceptions, this is just my experiences in multiple traditional gym settings- you know, with free weights, cardio equipment, some of those assisted weight machines like Nautilus, etc.

The nature of jiu jitsu almost (I say almost, again, I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule somewhere out there) forces, or at least strongly encourages continued interaction with your partners and teammates, which in turn promotes the sense of community. It’s nice to have a supportive online community like Fitocracy and other sites like it, but it is not nearly as essential for jiu jitsu students as it may be for participants in other sports and activities. I’m not putting down the site: if anything I would still encourage people to try it out, especially if you find your routine is getting a little boring and would like some ideas on how to change it up. But for jiu jitsu people I just don’t think they will find the community aspect as important as some others might.

Anyway, those are my thoughts- have a great weekend everyone!


Filed under bjj, Reviews

8 responses to “BJJ: Offering the Community Others Crave

  1. Jon

    I signed up for Fitocracy shortly after it went online. I think it’s an interesting concept, actually giving those people who are not all that comfortable interacting with others in a gym setting an outlet to communicate goals, ask questions, etc., and still maintain some anonymity and personal space without the feeling they’re asking stupid questions. But for whatever reason it has become a wasteland. I was very active in the bodyweight exercise groups but found most everybody eventually “outgrew” the site. I’ve since moved on to other means of tracking what I do off the mats.

    Still, for those new to fitness, or for those that don’t have the confidence quite yet to walk into a traditional gym, it’s a great tool for getting your feet wet in a world usually inhabited by mooks and Kardashian-ites.

  2. Absent Fitocrat here! I used Fitocracy mostly when I wasn’t doing BJJ. It was a great way to track my gym workouts. After I stopped lifting, just plugging in “BJJ” every time was not terribly interesting. Plus, I had some issues with the calendar, so it was unreliable – meaning the dates were wrong.

    I was part of a great community of Zombie killers, but they basically rules lawyered me and I’d have had to stay at the beginner/intro level for yet another damn month and I just said “screw it” and left altogether. I lost a lot of my motivation by losing that community.

    But realistically – Fitocracy came at a time when I needed it – for gym tracking. I believe if I started lifting again I would use it for that time frame again. But as far as for just tracking BJJ – that’s what my Streaks app is for.

    • Katie

      Really, they did that to you? That sucks :-/

      I think personally a bit of the appeal lies in the fact that they have a wide (enough) variety of kettlebell exercises in their database which is what I primarily use, but I also know I’m going to the gym to train regardless if I earn points or props from other users on the site. ::shrug::

  3. meghanbrown11

    I also joined Fitocracy back when I was running/lifting/training BJJ. But you’re right, I don’t need “stars” or “props” to know I’m training hard, that’s what your teammates are for. While BJJ is an individual sport, it’s so much more like a team sport than any team sport I’ve ever played!

    And I can’t wait to see your write up on MyFitnessPal. I love that app!

  4. Just signed up due to your post. We’ll see how it goes!

  5. Yeah, I totally fell out of updating my Fitocracy profile: like Julia said, it got a bit boring after a while just putting the same thing in over and over again. I have zero interest in lifting, which is what the site seems a lot more geared towards (especially as there have been multiple debates on the site about fitness in general, where their answer is invariably “you need to lift more”).

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