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XML format for storing workouts


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Hi!

 

I have been playing with an idea for a few years and now I will like to share it as I would love to get some feedback. I have been searching for similar alternatives on the Internet and I have not been able to find something with these features (the Apple health data export format and the training center XML are maybe a bit similar, but they are substantially different).

 

The point is that many fitness workouts (stretching routines, trainings with weights, etc.) use very few data. Actually, most of them can be simplified to this general pattern: do the exercise X for Y seconds, rest for Z seconds, and then do another exercise, until you are done. Since I started doing training with weights, I found this to be quite boring, as I had to be constantly keeping an eye on the stopwatch. So I thought that it could be a good idea to convert the workouts into a XML format so the computer/smartphone could take care of the timing and just tell me what to do. For instance, a stretching routine could be as simple as this:

 

[...]
<exercise name="Position A" description="Hold position A" time="20" />
<exercise name="Position B" description="Hold position B" time="20" />
[...]

 

This may be an oversimplification, but I hope that the concept is clear. Storing this information could be useful in two ways: it is good for doing workouts, but also for logging what you have done. Of course, the format would be of no use unless it turns into a standard and developers are able to create tools to parse and show the data for the workouts.

 

I really think that this is something that is missing in the fitness world. There is so much information available in the internet, but when someones decides to try a workout, it is bit of burdensome, whether the training is shown in a video or the specified in a description. Would not it be easier if someone could say "oh, I like this training. I will download it (the xml file) to play it on a "fitness player" and see if it fits me"? It would also be useful to trainers. For instance, if someone moves from a gym to another or decides to hire a trainer, it would be great to be able to say "take, this little file contains all the workouts that I have been doing in the last five years". There are also many other benefits. For instance, the workout data could contain some cues to ensure about the correct way of doing an exercises, or tips to reach a higher intensity.

 

Apart from thinking about this, I have to say that I created a very very basic prototype (I have quite a strange habit of doing apps only for my personal use), so I would like to add that this approach is feasible. I have logged more than 5k workouts and the best part is that most of them are saved automatically, the same app that helps me do some stretching stores all the information. For instance, I have found that competing against myself is very motivating for reaching my fitness goals.

 

Have you ever missed something similar to the format that I am suggesting? Is there something similar that I have been unable to find? Was there a similar proposal but it was a failure? If this format was generally available, would you use it? Would someone be interested in developing it?

 

I think that this could be a step forward in the fitness world and it could leave out some of the guesswork of designing a workout routine. Wow, this has been a bit longer that I expected, but this was something that I really wanted to share. Please let know what you think about this!

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