SHAPING UP: Could Pokémon GO be the latest fitness app?

Have you noticed how the Pokémon Go craze is taking over the UK at the moment?
Pokemon Go.Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go.

There are people everywhere walking around catching Pokémon on their mobile phones.

If you haven’t got a clue what Pokémon Go is, here’s a quick run-down ...

Chicken satay.Chicken satay.
Chicken satay.
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It’s a gaming app that you download on your mobile phone. In the game, players use the smart device’s GPS and camera to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player.

The Pokémon pop up in different, random locations, so if you want to ‘catch em all’ you have to walk around until one appears within your vicinity.

It seems that everyone is playing it and the craze keeps growing!

I was at the park with my kids on Wednesday evening and I overheard a lady shouting at her husband for spending more time catching Pokémon than spending time with his family. That’s how addicted people are. Crazy, right?


Anyway, can the Pokémon Go app really help your fitness?

Yes and no ...

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If you’re quite inactive then this game can be great. It will turn you from sedentary to active quite quickly. If you really dislike exercise, the game can make it more fun! In fact, you may get that caught up in the game it may not seem like exercise at all.

Or if you find it hard to motivate your kids to exercise then why not play this game with them? My four-year-old son Max loves it. He doesn’t need any encouragement to be active but he is always asking to go out and catch Pokémon.

Chicken satay.Chicken satay.
Chicken satay.

If you find yourself in a sedentary job and normally go home to relax and watch the TV all night, it will give you an extra incentive to get out and do some walking. I’ve even seen people walking around at dinner time catching Pokémon on their dinner break.

If you’re a gamer and you normally spend hours in front of a computer screen, then walking around and getting some fresh air can only benefit you too.

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And, if you’re a fitbit user it will bump up your miles and daily steps.

However, if you’re already quite active then the Pokémon Go app isn’t going to improve your fitness at all ...


What can you do instead?

1. Change Your Routine. People are attracted to the mystery of Pokémon Go. Where will the characters be hiding? Which characters will we catch? You can replicate this element of fun and surprise by incorporating it into your fitness routine. Boot Camp, for example, has grown in such popularity because participants don’t always know what’s coming next. What’s tomorrow’s workout? Can I keep up? If boot camp isn’t your thing, consider trying any new activity or workout. The novelty and uncertainty can be enough mystery to get you hooked.

2. Give Yourself Incentives. One of the reasons Pokémon Go is so successful is because it offers incentives. Every level conquered means new rewards and new Pokémon “gear” to help you reach the next level. So set yourself some fitness targets. It could be running 5km fun run, performing 20 press ups, completing a marathon, anything that challenges you. Then when you achieve your goal, reward yourself. Maybe you could buy new running shoes or an activity tracker. Buying something that helps you in the pursuit of what you want to achieve positively rewards behaviour and effort and makes it more likely you will succeed at the next level.

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3. Have Fun and Get Empowered. While it’s fun and feels great to capture a rare Charmeleon on Pokémon, you’re going to feel a much bigger sense of accomplishment if you run your first marathon, join a boot camp or complete a fitness challenge. The amount of time, effort and sacrifice that went into achieving those goals makes it even more empowering. And if you join a group based training class you will have plenty of fun too!

My advice:

If you’re curious download the app and see what all the fuss is about but don’t let it take over your life ...

But be a player in your own life. Put more effort into your health and fitness, improve your energy and create the excitement. Let’s make it so the pursuit of the best version of ourselves is not rarer than a Pokemon character.


Satay chicken with avacdo salad

This Chicken Satay recipe is great for a quick and easy lunch.

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It may take a little prep the night before but you can eat it cold or warmed up the next day.

Serves 1


1 large chicken breast, diced

1/2 avocado, sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

1/4 carrot, sliced

6 sugar snap peas, sliced for the Satay Sauce:

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp honey


Make the sauce by putting all of the ingredients into a bowl and stirring until combined. Coat the chicken in the satay sauce and set aside for a few hours in the fridge.

When you’re ready to cook, spread the chicken evenly on a baking tray and place under the grill for 20 minutes or until cooked through (turning half way through).

Serve with the fresh salad.


Squats and press-ups

Here’s a challenge workout for you that consists of only two exercises ...

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Repeatedly perform 10 squats and 10 press-ups (with good form) for 10 minutes without stopping.

Keep count of the number of sets you perform. Then try to beat your score in a few days time.

For an explanation of each exercise head over to my website and check out my latest blog post


Your Trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award-winning personal trainer based in Seaham. The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year. Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012. For personal training, boot camps – – small group training and online programmes email [email protected] or visit