Social fitness with Strava

Known by the term Social Fitness, Strava is an web based application that allows the storing, sharing and comparison of ride data captured on any GPS device.

Previously there have been other apps that have allowed the sharing of ride info but it is the comparative element of Strava that not only elevates it above previous offerings, but also makes is super addictive.

It was born out of the fact that, as our lives get busier, we end up fitting rides in wherever we can in a schedule but miss out on the camaraderie and competition of a group ride. Once a ride has been uploaded to the application, all metrics are compared against every ride within the Strava database and its at this point, Strava’s genius comes to the fore.

Strava for greatness: your Iphone can help you up your game

Uers are able to divide rides into ‘segments’ – typically, but not exclusively (they can be whatever the user defines) climbs or descents. As soon as your ride info is inputted, you are ranked. Groups can be created, so you can compare with specific people, If you have ridden that route before – your metrics will be compared to your previous times.

As any user can designate any part of any ride as a segment, there is almost endless potential for comparison and competition. With mobile (both I-Phone and Android) apps available free, there’s no need to even own a traditional GPS device to get involved. The basic app is free to use and has unlimited uploads, but there is a Premium service.

At $60 annually, it’s not expensive but it allows you to drill down deeper into any additional heart rate or power data. It keeps a running tally of any power levels, heart arte zones, severity of workout and VAM scores (a simple metric of power, weight and climbing speed that even works without a power meter). The premium account also allows you to compare performance compared to riders of similar age or weight to rate any progression your making.

While initially it may not seem too appealing, once you get involved, if there’s an ounce of competitive spirit in your body, you will become a ‘heavy user’ and every ride you’ll be asking yourself, ‘is this a Strava segment?’

Where did it come from?

Strava CEO, Michael Horvath explains: ‘A group of us got together and thought what can we get out of GPS data around a workout and make a great experience online for people who new each other pretty well but weren’t training together all the time.

Strava simply puts whatever you’re doing in the physical world, as part of your life as an athlete, we put it into context. You want to invite your friends because the more people who know, the more fun the workout becomes’.

This article was first published in the February 9 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio and download from the Apple store.