If you’re at all skeptical that Pokemon Go, the augmented-reality app that requires users to get outside and physically move around to capture animated creatures on their screens, is leading to increased exercise among users, all you have to do is go on Twitter.
Pokemon Go players — known as trainers, per the game’s lingo — are tweeting screenshots of their fitness trackers. Wearers of fitness trackers have shown a “population-level surge,” or across-the-board increase, in step counts, according to the Washington Post.
Even dog owners who play the game are commenting on how many more walks their pups are getting now that they’re on the hunt for Pikachu.
And players who were previously reluctant to get out and about are pleasantly surprised at their newfound mobility, like Twitter user @Son_of_ol: “I’ve known for a while that I needed to explore more parts of NYC and get more exercise. The solution: Pokemon Go.”
Still, it seems contradictory that a smartphone game could prod its players to lead a more active lifestyle. What does an actual fitness trainer — as opposed to a Pokemon Go trainer — have to say about that?
“I actually think the gameification of fitness in general is fantastic,” says Brian Flynn, the owner of Body Unique Personal Training in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. “That’s the future of the industry, isn’t it? If you make fitness fun, people will do it!”
Pokemon Go is far from the only app that’s turning fitness into a game, or a game into fitness. CNN.com recently released a list of seven Pokemon Go alternatives, including Zombies, Run!, a running app that plays scary stories and sound effects to mimic zombies chasing after you; and SpecTrek, an augmented reality game that has players hunting ghosts instead of Pokemon.
The idea of combining Pokemon Go with a real life workout isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, either. Steve Bambinelli, a certified Cross Fit Level 1 Trainer at Crow Hill Gym in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, says that at his gym, they’ve thought about designing a “workout of the day” in which members “go to different Pokestops and every time they find ‘x’ Pokemon, for that specific Pokemon, you have to do five burpees after you catch it.”
“We mentioned it more jokingly than anything else, but I would do it,” Bambinelli says. “I’m a firm believer that anything that’s getting people out of their house is good. Is it a stupid reason to? Sure. But anything getting people to be active is a great thing.”