Social fitness apps can be a source of motivation, but there are also lots of reasons why you might want greater control over what information your followers can see. Today, Strava announced it’s introducing two new updates that will give users greater flexibility and control over their privacy on the app.
The first update will allow subscribers to access “Personalized Stat Maps.” Basically, users can select and preview things like heart rate, pace, and elevation from the save and edit screens. Previously, you’d have to use a hashtag. Free users and subscribers alike will also get the ability to customize how visible their workout metrics are. Things like calories, heart rate, as well as pace and power, can now be set to private. Users will also get the ability to write private notes about their workouts, meaning you can wax poetic about your run or rant about bad biking conditions and keep it separate from your public story. To access these options, you can find them in the top right corner when viewing your activity in the mobile app. On the website, you can click the pencil icon on the left side of the screen when viewing an activity.
Strava users will also gain greater control over how visible their GPS maps are. Currently, you can hide up to 1 mile from your start and end locations for all existing and future activities at a specific address. Now, you can apply that to any location regardless of where you are—though it only applies to future activities. Strava is also adding a design tweak so you can tell which parts of your maps are visible. Start and end points will appear in grey, while publicly visible parts of your route will appear in orange. You can also opt to hide your map for every single activity so that they’re not visible anywhere on Strava. Again, this will only apply to future uploads and will also hide your routes from the Global Heatmap.
These tweaks are immensely helpful to outdoor runners and cyclists alike. While it might seem harmless to boast about your route online, keeping your route private is a matter of safety. It can be freakishly easy on these apps to learn where a complete stranger runs, how often they run there, and at what pace. It’s especially concerning if you have a favorite route, or aren’t able to vary up your routes as often as you’d like. Likewise, sometimes sharing metrics can be motivating. Other times, it can feel embarrassing, particularly when you’re just setting out on your fitness journey. Or, you know, sometimes you don’t want to give your frenemy ammunition about how fast or slow you ran on your last run. In any case, more control over what people see is a good thing—and it’s about high time more fitness apps took this into consideration.