The day you knew your weirdness was now mainstream? That’s the day that Men’s Journal came out with an article praising Strava as “The Only Fitness App That Matters.”
Notice I said “your.” Not “my.”
I remember the first day I heard about Strava. I was in Bull’s living room. We were talking about something bikish and he said, “Hey you gotta check out this really cool program, it’s called Strava.”
Notice he said “program.” Not “app.” And certainly not “fitness app.”
Bull walked me through it on his laptop. “See?” he said. “It records everything and has these segments where you can look at parts of a ride and a leaderboard. See?”
“Stupidest fucking thing ever,” I said.
“It’s super cool,” he added, unfazed. “You’re gonna love it.”
I think that was in 2012. I did Strava for a couple of years until it became as unbearable as my power meter had been, a relentless reminder of quantified suckage, and what was worse, accelerating suckage. One day I took it behind the outhouse and shot it. Then, a year or so ago, shortly after my nutsack-breaking-incident, I resuscitated it.
But Men’s Journal has now anointed Strava as the only fitness app that matters; the killer app. Before you go proudly clapping yourself on the ass, please check their home page and note that Men’s Journal features:
- A giant, inflatable Irish pub.
- Kelly Slater paddling his surfboard.
- Some tatted up dude tossing an exerball.
- How to break in raw denim.
- Killer indoor exercise machines.
In other words, the mag has zero cred unless you’re a drunk surfing tatty-poo fashionista who exercises in front of a giant mirror.
The article is long on words but short on substance, which is like Strava itself, robustly empty. Basically, Strava is a killer app, the writer says, because it has a slick interface, yo. And segments, yo. And everyone’s on it, yo. This last part is the thing that makes it most killer for the author and therefore the type of person likely to read Men’s Journal. It’s kind of like a restaurant review that says “The food is incredible because everybody likes it.” Ah, yes. I see.
What the article missed is that Strava succeeds because it’s the digital equivalent of the giant mirror in front of the free weights where you can stare forever at the tiny bumps between your shoulder and elbow masquerading as muscle. Every Men’s Journal subscriber will understand.
Strava lets you ogle, stare, admire, note tiny differences from the last workout (“See! A new vein! I think.”), and just as importantly gaze at the lifter next to you, the one whose arm is twice the diameter of your torso. A few more reps and you’ll be exactly like him because you both belong to the same gym.
The digital narcissism of Strava has perfectly melded with the desire to watch yourself in motion. Nextgen versions will integrate with the four personal drones that follow you on the ride, and it will also connect with Zwift riders who virtually challenge you in their basement on the live video feed while you pedal the actual street. The live feed on Facebag will show realtime power/HR/elevation/speed and a 3-D topographical map running along the bottom of the screen. After the ride you’ll relax with some diet water, eat some raw almonds, compare your performance with people who are similar enough to beat but not similar enough to beat you, and review the whole thing in a video podcast that you upload through your glasses. The world isn’t all about you. The world is you.
And really, the author did get it right. Strava is the killer app. And the thing it killed? Fun.
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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.