All three provide good and useful services, but is any one of them clearly better than the other two? The reviews are based on the features most of us would expect from a fitness tool/advice site. For each category/feature I will rate Traineo, Gyminee, and Sparkpeople. The format is simple, five categories (user-friendliness, groups, nutritional logging, exercise logging, and graphing capabilities) judged by placing each site into first, second, or third place. First place is awarded 3 points, second place 2 points; third place 1 point. At the end of this review the points are added up and the winner announced. Pretty simple, right? Good, well let’s start the reviews.
Presentation and User Friendliness
Traineo sports a simple layout with calming blue text over a white background. The navigation bars are easy to use and most folks won’t have a problem finding their way around the Traineo site.
Gyminee has a layout that is very similar to Traineo’s- right down to the black header with a blue and white background. Like Traineo the site isn’t all that hard to navigate and is fairly user-friendly.
Comparison of Traineo and Gyminee layouts
SparkPeople has an engaging and colorful screen with bright oranges and blues over a white background. While the main page is host to a lot more links and information than either Traineo or Gyminee, it is very user friendly.
Winner in the category of layout and user-friendliness: SparkPeople
Runner-up: Traineo and Gyminee tied
Gyminee has a fairly active “community forum” but I find its layout (not difficult) but unpleasant to navigate. While it isn’t all that impressive now, I think given time it will improve significantly.
SparkPeople‘s community boards are replete with recent posts AND convenient to navigate. The SparkPeople Cafe alone has over 694,000 posts; the staying motivated board has over 280,000 posts; and the Support Groups for people over 50 has over 105,000 posts. And those are just a few of the boards available on SparkPeople.
Winner in the category of groups: SparkPeople
Last place: Traineo
Traineo offers you a “my diet” tab which allows you to graph your diet based on two factors, (1) how you felt about how you ate that day, and (2) how many calories you ate that day. Unfortunately, Traineo does not offer a nutritional intake log. As we all know, when you don’t record what you eat you are often prone to underestimate your caloric intake.
Gyminee improves on the Traineo model by including a nutritional intake journal, charts, and a water tracker. In addition Gyminee offers meal plans and a grocery list function. However, when it comes to execution, the nutrition log isn’t all that easy to use. My biggest complaint is that the list of indexed food items is respectable, but somewhat limited. Many of the foods I attempted to enter were not in their index. My second complaint is that resources like the grocery list generator and the meal planner are under the “pro” setting which requires you to buy a membership to the site. I have nothing against them making a buck, but when I can get these services on another site for free, why would I pay for them on Gyminee?
SparkPeople offers the same benefits as Gyminee but with a much more user-friendly interface and added options. In addition to recording your daily intake of fat, carbs, and protein, SparkPeople’s nutrition log also shows your recommended daily intake range for fat, carbs, and protein. A “report” option allows you, at any point during the day, to check and see if your food intake matches up with your recommended f/p/c percentages (15% fats:30% protein: and 55% carbs in my case).
Winner in the category of Food Nutrition: Spark People.
Last place: Traineo
Traineo offers a rudimentary workout recording system that allows you to input the type of exercise from a respectable list of activities, the time spent engaged in the activity, and the level of intensity. Based on your input Traineo assigns a number of calories burned to the activity. Sadly, that is it. Traineo offers no workout logging of individual exercises, time of exercise, etc.
Gyminee provides more than Traineo when it comes to recording your fitness activities. In addition to allowing you to log individual exercises, Gyminee allows you to record the numbers of reps per set and the level of intensity for each exercise. Gyminee also features a good number of exercises in their exercise library section. The only pay for use feature is the schedule a workout feature, which I imagine most of us could get by without ever using.
SparkPeople allows you to schedule your workouts for free. Aside from that it offers most of the same options as Gyminee. However, the resistance training log is a bit bulky and difficult to use as you can’t manually adjust reps without inputting the entire exercise again. In addition, you can’t record the relative intensity of each exercise or even the workout in general. Yet SparkPeople’s exercise library is perhaps a bit more extensive than that offered by Gyminee.
Winner in the category of Exercise Section: Gyminee
Last place: Traineo
This is one category where Traineo has a strong showing. Not only does Traineo do a good job of graphing your calories burned from workouts, but they also offer a “My Log” tab which allows you to track everything from your sleep to your waist line. The interface is pretty simple to use and fairly idiot proof.
Gyminee offers some good graph (especially in the nutrition section), but fails to capitalize on the significantly more detailed information it obtains from the user in comparison to Traineo. Moreover, many of the charts and graphs are only available to those who pay a subscription fee. While the fee is cheap, why should you pay for it at Gyminee when you can get it free elsewhere?
SparkPeople possesses very good graphing features in its nutrition, exercises, and goal(s) sections. The graphs are easy to access (just click on the buttons that say “see report”) and simple to read. Virtually idiot-proof.
Winner in the category of Graphing Capabilities: SparkPeople
Last place: Gyminee
Presentation: SparkPeople=3; Traineo=2; Gyminee=2
Groups: SparkPeople=3; Gyminee=2; Traineo=1
Food: SparkPeople=3; Gyminee=2; Traineo=1
Exercise: Gyminee=3; SparkPeople=2; Traineo=1
Graphing: SparkPeople=3; Traineo=2; Gyminee=1
First Place, SparkPeople with 14 points
Runner-up, Gyminee with 10 points
Last Place, Traineo with 7 points
SparkPeople offers the largest number of services combined with the largest online community for those seeking to lose weight and track their progress. Gyminee has great potential, but it is fairly young, so its community is small and many of its best capabilities require you to fork over some cash. Traineo is fine if all you want is some basic tracking of your calories burned, weight, etc. Otherwise it lacks the tools a serious fitness enthusiast might expect. However, it does offer great widgets to post on your blog. So perhaps you might want to keep a Traineo account in order to access their widgets while keeping track of most of your fitness activities and nutritional log over on SparkPeople.