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How Web 2.0 can help you get fit

Don't laugh, but physical fitness could be a powerful niche in the Web 2.0 world.

Clearly, tech companies have long seen the promise of the consumer health market, as Sony proved again recently with its introduction of a . And serial dieters have found ways on their own to combine software with their regimens, such as .

Now, Web 2.0-oriented sites such as Gimme20, Traineo and PEERtrainer are trying to capitalize on the fitness trend. Sites that are even more finely defined, such as, target specific health issues (in this case diabetes).

Countless Web sites, often those run by pulp fitness magazines, have targeted health-conscious readers and consumers for years. But Web 2.0 start-ups are focusing on a major difference: active community participation.

Anyone who has dieted or exercised regularly knows that support is essential to staying on track, whether it comes in the form of a personal trainer, workout buddy or just a nagging spouse. Yet it's often difficult to sync up schedules and arrange gym dates in our busy lives. That's where these sites can be the most effective, maintaining robust environments where you can find virtual workout partners and support groups that can help keep track of your progress and share useful information.

In a recent review of Traineo, for example, Solution Watch wrote: "Browsing to the members section also allows you to search for motivators that may be willing to help you achieve your goal. Motivators are members with gold stars over their photos and if interested, you can send a message to them requesting they become your motivator."

That's a lot more effective than keeping a handwritten log of your progress, while conveniently forgetting that doughnut (or three) you had for a midnight snack. Not that we speak from personal experience or anything.