There are quite a few different fitness tracking apps available on the market now and some of them are actually quite good … at doing one thing. Strava is somewhat unique in that it specializes in more than that and while you might think I meant running, cycling & swimming I actually mean something else entirely.
Strava (named after the Swedish word to “strive”) is (1) a fitness tracker and (2) a social network for athletes. This is not the Facebook or Pinterest type of social network that is cluttered with holiday pictures and food snaps though, with Strava you’ve got people working hard to better themselves and sharing those updates and the amazing places they’ve seen on the way.
Our rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
👍🏻 The good
- Social features
- Excellent GPS-tracking
👎🏻 The bad
What is Strava?
Strava is a free app available on the Play Store (Android) and the App Store (Apple) with a large and growing popularity. It has been downloaded over 10 million times on the Play Store alone and users of the app share nearly 1.4 million activities every 24hrs!
While Strava is free, it does have a premium subscription model available that provides a host of additional analytics and features.
Strava has a website where you can interact with your friends and follow their workouts as well as join different social groups. Apps for both Android and iOS are available at the following links:
Pros and Cons
- Excellent integration with a host of peripherals (smart watches etc.) and apps based on its popularity and installed customer base.
- Social features are excellent and are only enhanced with the extremely useful clubs and groups functionality.
- GPS tracking is exceptional (much better than some other trackers I’ve tested) & the auto-pause feature works perfectly.
- Swim tracking available either manually or via appropriately linked peripherals. Outdoor swimming includes a map!
- The training log is really useful to see how you did historically and the calendar provides a quick and easy snapshot of your monthly workouts. Both are accessible from the website, are simple to use and understand.
- Challenges are really useful and help get you going. Prizes available are things that you would actually use which is nice!
- Premium features are really quite exceptional and while I’d wish they were free (in which case this bullet would be in the pro’s list!) I can understand why they aren’t. The cost is a bit on the high side, but with the added analytics provided to the serious athletes, it is probably reasonable for those looking to really make an improvement.
Strava takes the normal boredom of running and workouts in general and makes it fun! The integration of the social features really work well to help motivate all but the laziest and for those fitness fanatics amongst us – well let’s just say that you can follow Olympic level athletes in your social stream and trying to beat them is not for the faint of heart!
Strava works really well at tracking activities and with its tight integration with lots of peripherals and wearables, it is one of the few apps that allow you to leave your phone at home assuming your wearable is advanced enough.
During the course of your activity, Strava will provide voice prompts at intervals based on your distance and speed to further motivate you with a host of statistics available upon the completion of your run.
Some Tips and Tricks
- Use the regularly updated challenges to motivate yourself to go that extra mile! You can sign up online or via the app and if you win, you have a chance to take home some cool prizes!
- Add photos and personalize your workout name. The social features are not only useful for giving you a “thumbs up” if you do well, they are a great way to get people involved.
- Setup a privacy zone around your home or other location that you do not want to be shared. This will ensure that while your run details are shared, where you start and stop is not, helping to keep you safe. Simply go to the privacy setting tab in your app.
- Follow a pro. While this can be disheartening to some, to others it can be extremely motivating but regardless it’s really interesting to see the amount of time and effort they put in to reach their level of fitness!
Strava works and it works really well. You don’t have to pay anything to get started with it and it is really worth giving it a shot if you are trying to get fit or even stay fit. The challenges especially are interesting and fun and the whole look and feel of the app is really well done. Thanks to that, Strava is a serious rival for other fitness tracking apps such as Fitbit and Runkeeper.