Fitness fun: How to ‘game’ your workout and boost results

Whether you’re trying to improve your fitness, or be more active in your daily life, gamification may provide the extra incentive you need.

Running from zombies, catching Pokémon on your daily walk, or competing against someone on the other side of the world during spin class.

These are some new ways people are using to help make exercise fun.

Recent research shows gamifying our daily workouts not only boosts motivation, but can also   significantly increase our activity levels.

What is gamifying?

Gamifying is precisely what it sounds like; turning fitness into a game.

This can include jumping on a treadmill that takes you on a visual journey through a forest or up a breathtaking mountain, or an app that turns your daily workout into an exciting storyline.

Virtual reality is also taking things to a new level, with people working up a sweat while being fully immersed in an alternate reality.

“It’s amazing some of the things we can do now,” Gamify Fitness founder Bill Elliot says.

“There’s technology which allows you to compete against other people in the gym, or across the world, which you can do for running, cycling or even rowing.

“We have found gamification improves engagement.

“It incentivises them to train longer, more regularly and to be more active.”

Technogym education and training specialist Rhys James says the trend has seen a rise in gamified fitness equipment, with gyms particularly interested in appealing to millennials and generation Z.

“Gamifying workout experiences extract the chore and injects a measurable, feedback-driven, positive and enjoyable training experience,” Rhys says.

How to gamify your workout

Look for a gym with plenty of tech

Not all fitness centres are equal, so find a gym with good equipment.

Rhys recommends looking for a gym with an array of machines that offer visual journeys, store your training data or have interactive game play.

He says another possibility is equipment that has an actual video game console.

“Playing games like Angry Birds while working out – it doesn’t get much more fun than that,” Rhys says.

Download an app

To spice up your daily run or walk, try an app that will drive up your adrenaline and get you running faster than ever before.

Zombies, Run! is extremely popular with more than 10 million users worldwide.

Members plug in their headphones and suddenly your daily jog becomes a heart-pumping race for survival.

The Walk is another option.

Essentially, it’s a fitness tracker, but it motivates people to get moving with daily updates, clues to find, problems to solve, and an engaging ongoing plot.

Another fun alternative is Pokémon GO, which allows you to find and catch Pokemon in your neighbourhood using augmented reality, and has been found to help users clock up an average extra 1473 steps a day.

Join a community or online event

Joining with friends and competing together adds extra motivation, and may reap rewards on the training track.

Research has found runners who compare their results through their social networks ran faster and longer over time.

Invest in immersive gaming systems

If the gym is not your thing, virtual reality headsets may be an option.

Research has found virtual reality has benefits both physically and psychologically, and there is a growing number of games designed specifically to get you working up a sweat.

And if you’re not ready to don the helmet, fitness-enhancing video-game consoles like Nintendo’s Switch incorporate motion controls to augment your reality until you go full-virtual.

These systems already have a dedicated library of fitness games ranging from rhythm games to gym simulators, making it easy to tailor your workout to the aesthetic you’ll most enjoy.

Use your imagination

Creating games out of thin air can resurrect your inner-child during workouts if you’d like to go tech-free.

Setting rep challenges and maintaining records pushes boundaries for your workouts and encourages you to keep raising the ever-dizzying heights of your achievements.

If you have a gym buddy of equal abilities, use the mantra “anything you can do, I can do better!” and create a fun competition for varied workouts.

Props like dice or cards can also keep your workout spontaneous and unpredictable by attributing a unique workout to each side of the dice or number and house of the card.

Follow online trends

Tik Tok is becoming a haven for workout trends, with the latest being Dystopiacore.

Inspired by fans of Divergent, but easily inspired by any dystopian fiction, this trend encourages users to don all-black-activewear before training like Tris.

Not only is this sparking your imagination again, but it’s another community event where you can enjoy and exchange ideas with others on the platform.

Trends start with one person’s creativity, so when this one gets old try and make your own! 

For more inspirational health and fitness advice, tune into House of Wellness TV, at 2pm Fridays and 12pm Sundays, on Channel 7.

Written by Alex White. Updated by Zak Malcolm Wheeler September 2022.