HOUSTON There are plenty of smartphone apps and websites that claim they ll help you lose weight, but few turn the process into a social game where you compete against your friends.

Fitocracy launched in 2010 with just a few users, but now it has 400,000 thanks in part to its iPhone app. (Its makers say an Android version is on the way.)

You can sign up for Fitocracy, for free, using an e-mail address or you can link it directly to your Facebook account. Using the iPhone app, you can plan your fitness goals and track your daily workouts.

Each time you work out, you earn points, unlock achievements, and slay the laziness dragon. All of these points add up, because in the end, you re competing against whoever you choose to friend on the social network.

Obviously, this method isn t for everyone, since you may not want people to know how much you weigh or how much you work out. For some people, however, this is just the motivation they need. Many users even post somewhat revealing photos of their progress.

The good news is you don t have to have a smartphone to compete. Even just going to you can track and share your workouts.

For those of you with a smartphone, you ll be glad to know the social network even links up with other popular fitness apps to share and track data for instance apps that use GPS to track how much you run.

Here are some other popular fitness apps:

>> Runkeeper(GPStracking for runners)
>> Smartrunner(GPStracking for runners, calories burned)
>> Endomondo(real time tracking of cycling, running)
>> Lose It!(tell it how much you want to lose, it'll tell you what you need to do)

Of course, you always want to check with your doctor before you start a new diet or workout regiment.

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