Sunday, March 3, 2024
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Sweat and score

Gamification transforms workouts into enjoyable adventures, levelling up health goals


Being alive in a time where embracing health and fitness has become as trendy as the latest fashion statement, navigating the ins and outs of choices to kickstart your fitness odyssey can feel like decoding a stylish enigma. The question of ‘how’ and ‘why’, a vibrant puzzle that becomes pieces holding the promise of a stronger, healthier you.

Picture a kaleidoscope of dazzling fitness possibilities, a vibrant mosaic of exercise regimens, wellness philosophies and lifestyle transformations.

As you stand at the crossroads of this exhilarating journey, the ‘how’ unfolds like a personalised map, offering routes tailored to your unique aspirations and preferences.

Discovering the ‘why’ becomes a narrative, a compelling story interconnected with your desires, goals, and, ultimately, your life. Is it the pursuit of strength, a dance with endurance or perhaps a rendezvous with a more energised version of yourself?

I recall the persistent concerns that inundated my own mind – a subtle pressure that appeared to emerge from the shadows of uncertainty. Questions of self-doubt would dance around the mind like an earworm, playing gently, non-intrusive, yet scathing.

“What if I can’t do it? What if it doesn’t work? What if I end up gaining weight instead? How do I make this work?”


Throughout my weight loss chronicles, I dedicated considerable time to discover my core motivation. The goal was to find a drive that aligned with my personality and ensured that fitness and health went beyond just a fleeting enthusiasm, but rather, a sustainable way of life.

Experimenting with various forms of exercise, from traditional gym workouts and weightlifting to running on treadmills, hiking, and trail running, I was searching for an activity that would kindle a genuine passion for fitness within the context of my life.

While I’ve discovered and continue to enjoy certain exercises, time permitting, one tool has remained steadfast – quietly accompanying me through the sweat and pain willingly endured, so that I could ascend a flight of stairs without gasping for breath.

This tool, however, doesn’t log your steps, measure calorie burn, or track heart rate. Instead, it introduces you to adorable elemental creatures known as Pokémon. Yes, surprisingly, what kept me grounded and motivated throughout my weight loss journey was none other than Pokémon Go.

A screenshot from the author’s Pokemon Go app page, showing details of distance walked among others. PHOTO: WARDI WASIL

Now, the fusion of gaming elements with fitness and health tracking is far from a niche experience.

In this age of fitness frenzies and health-tracking apps, gamification has materialised as the secret sauce, fundamentally shaping how modern individuals dance with their well-being.

Participating in virtual challenges in Pokemon Go has proven to be an effective motivational tool, for the writer, turning the pursuit of health into an engaging and enjoyable journey. PHOTO: WARDI WASIL

These applications, like Pokémon Go, are adorned with rewards, challenges, and interactive elements that are judged and connected through your real-life activities. 

For individuals like me, this gamified approach was a powerful incentive to not only initiate a healthier lifestyle but, more crucially, as a catalyst for sustained commitment.

Earning badges, achieving milestones, and participating in virtual challenges have proven to be an effective motivational tool, at least for me, turning the pursuit of health into an engaging and enjoyable journey that goes far beyond the initial spark of inspiration.

Before I committed myself to a healthier and more active lifestyle last year, I hadn’t immersed myself in the Pokémon Go phenomenon since its augmented reality debut in 2016.


Upon my return however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the game’s numerous evolutions, showcasing enhancements in the quality of life aspects and an expanded array of activities beyond the quintessential Pokémon-catching experience.

When the mood for cardio struck, what propelled me to walk a bit farther or run a bit faster was primarily the egg-hatching facet of Pokémon Go.

In this mobile adventure, by spinning PokéStops and Pokémon Gyms, eggs, and other resources, find their way into your inventory.

These eggs are categorised into two, five, or 10 kilometres and demand physical exertion for hatching. So, it provided enough reason to prolong my workout sessions whenever I noticed an egg requiring just a few metres or even kilometres.

A Pokémon found during the writer’s outdoor activity. PHOTO: WARDI WASIL

The anticipation of a rare or, perhaps, a shiny Pokémon hatching from the egg drowned out the strains of physical exertion, turning each session into a thrilling pursuit of virtual treasures.

For those individuals just starting on their journey to health and possessing a penchant for achieving in-game goals and trophies, more apps now offer a purpose to your fitness beyond mere weight loss. One such app that has gained familiarity among Bruneians, particularly in the context of the pandemic, is BruHealth.

Originating as a comprehensive platform for all things COVID-19-related in the Sultanate, this national mobile application has evolved to encompass various features promoting public health.

Among the most intriguing features is the introduction of the BN on the Move feature, which tracks your daily steps and a points system calculated based on the daily goals successfully achieved by users. These accrued points can be redeemed from select vendors with offerings ranging from discounted yoga classes and gym sessions to assets enhancing your BruHealth profile.

This new feature injects much-needed enjoyment into your daily fitness pursuits, transforming your health goals into a rewarding and fun-filled experience.

There is also Monster Hunter Now, the latest mobile game application from the creators of Pokémon Go, which deviates from the realm of adorable creatures.

Instead, players find themselves teeming with fantastical yet Jurassic monsters, each requiring hunting for materials to upgrade armour and weapons. The ultimate goal is to equip oneself to face progressively bigger and more powerful monsters in thrilling encounters.

Motivations for pursuing a healthier lifestyle are as diverse as the individuals themselves.

Whether driven by a desire for intense meditation, a sense of competition, or the simple enjoyment of a game, there are myriad ways to embark on the path to better health.  Exploring the various options available, be it through mindfulness practices, friendly competition, or even the immersive gaming world, offers a range of possibilities for individuals seeking to enhance their well-being.

The key lies in finding the approach that resonates most with one’s personal preferences and goals. – Wardi Wasil