These days it seems there are a million apps for fitness and training. You can find pretty much anything. Recently, I was looking for a yoga app, and after spending a whole 20 minutes browsing, I decided on one and it wasn’t really what I was looking for in the end. I tried it a couple of days and was a bit disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the app was good and well done, it was just not what I was after.
I imagine when searching for exercise apps, or fitness ones, people might have the same problem as I did with my yoga app search, so I thought I would share with you the apps I actually use.
There, I said it. It was going to come up sooner or later, so I thought I’d get it out of the way.
I have a Fitbit Surge that I use as much as I can (when I don’t forget it at home, plugged to the charger). I like knowing there’s something tracking my steps and general activity all day long. I know a lot of people use their phones for step tracking, but that doesn’t work for me, because I don’t go everywhere with my phone. Shocking, I know! When I used to work in an office, I left the phone on my desk quite often, especially when walking to the kitchen, printer or toilets! So it wouldn’t give me an accurate figure for my steps.
For a while I used a FuelBand from Nike. It was good, but it didn’t have everything I needed. For example, if I wanted to track my runs, I needed a different watch/band.
Now, I’m very happy with my Fitbit. I use it to keep track of all my steps, it also tracks my heart rate and when I wear it at night (not that often) it gives me relatively accurate info about my sleep patterns as well.
You can use it to track your weight and body fat percentage (I do), and your food and water intake (I don’t).
One thing I like is that it can automatically track my runs without me having to do anything. If I want the GPS to track my route, then I have to activate it, but other than that, as soon as I walk faster, it picks it up.
I also use the stopwatch function quite a lot to time the rests between my strength training sets. I just set it to the time I need, press go, and whenever the time is up I get a discreet but noticeable vibration on my wrist. This is also great for training people, as I don’t have to keep “playing” with my phone and looks a bit more professional.
The only downside is that if I use the GPS a lot, and if I use the stopwatch regularly, it drains the battery, so I need to keep an eye on that. A drawback is that Fitbit has special plugs on their USB chargers, so I can’t use Apple or Android chargers, I always have to have my Fitbit charger around (and they’re not even compatible between different Fitbit models, not cool).
2. Freeletics Bodyweight
There are a few different Freeletics apps, but I mostly use the bodyweight one. If you haven’t heard about it, Freeletics is a way of training in which you mostly do bodyweight exercises as fast as you can while maintaining good form. Their workouts have great names off Greek mythology, which kind of makes you feel a bit awesome when you complete them.
A very good thing is that they have videos showing you every exercise, with explanations, so if you’ve never heard of an exercise, or if you’re not sure how it should be performed, you can always check the demo included in the workout.
These workouts are mostly high intensity, and even if they seem short, you sweat it. If you want something different, they also have running and weightlifting apps, and I believe they now have a nutrition subscription. They’re free to use, unless you want the Coach option or the nutrition app, in which case you have to pay.
I like Freeletics, especially if I need some inspiration and I’m nowhere near a gym, but I rather train with someone in person. Every time you complete a workout you can post it only and your friends can give you ClapClaps (likes) within the app. Still, it’s not the same.
I don’t really use Freeletics that much because there’s no one around to correct your posture or motivate you when it gets hard (and trust me, it gets very hard with some workouts). It will still get you fit if you do it regularly (as with anything, really).
Not a fitness app in itself, but there are so many times the right song at the right time has saved my workout…
There are certain songs that I automatically associate with training and I have a specific song I always start my runs with. It puts me in the mood. I can change the style of the workout by choosing a different playlist or skipping songs and since I wear wireless headphones, I don’t even need to have a specific pocket for my phone, I can just leave it near my water bottle and towel.
When you go for a run, you can set your playlist to start with a motivational song to set the mood, then go to a song with an “intro” pace and then up the rhythm whenever you want to run faster. Spotify has a setting as well that uses your tempo to create a playlist when using it online. I’ve only tried it once, ages ago, and it was a bit weird at the beginning, as the songs kept changing and repeating often, but it improved towards the end of the race. Not sure if it was because it was a new thing, or if because my pace and tempo weren’t that great at the time!
If you’re doing weights, you can always put a playlist together with songs that make you dig deeper and turn on beast mode.
4. Zombies Run!
I’ve only used this app a couple of times, but I’m hooked on it. The premise is simple, you set the details for your run (either distance or time, and maybe tweak a couple of other things) and then you hear a story while you run. Cool thing is that you can have your own music and still hear the cues and story.
If you set it up, you can hear zombies chasing you from time to time, which is cool because it pushes you to run faster if you don’t want to drop items you’ve collected. The first time I tried the app all my zombie chases happened when I was already running uphill, so it pretty much killed me. Did that make me the first zombie personal trainer out there? No, because it didn’t literally kill me! You guys…
Each session is a different chapter in the story and your goal is to run around and collect items. You don’t need to follow any route or map, and you don’t need to look at your phone, you just run and listen to the story or music. Of course, they ask you to be aware of your surroundings and not run into traffic and similar, but other than that it’s actually a lot of fun.
This might look weird on the list, but I use YouTube quite often as a reminder not only for exercises I might not have used in a while, but also to refresh myself on the key points when performing some of the exercises, or variations.
It’s very simple to quickly search for an exercise on YouTube, especially for those exercises that have stranger names. Of course, YouTube is not going to correct your posture, or give you a detailed fitness programme for your specific needs, but it can help you remember the exercises your trainer asks you to do at home.
You have to be careful though, there are many workouts on YouTube that promise imminent changes that border on miraculous. A lot of trainers online barely even break a sweat during their 5-minute workout. Trust me on this, either you exercise for a short period of time and sweat it, or you need to do a longer session. There are no miracle cures.
6. Running Heroes
Going back to a running app for a moment. If you like running, you should be on Running Heroes. It’s a website (and sort of web app you can save on your phone’s home screen) that rewards you for running. Note that the link above will take you to the website through my referral link, so if you’re planning to join, you can do it through there and I’ll get some extra points!
Every time you go for a run, you get points that you accumulate until you can exchange them for offers. Some offers are straightforward such as discounts on brands, while others allow you to enter on a prize draw for products or race entries. But if you’re already running, you might as well get something out of it, right?
Running Heroes syncs with different apps and brands, like Nike fuel points and Fitbit for example, so you will be able to use your usual brand to track your runs and then just sync with Running Heroes and reap the rewards!
7. Google Documents/Notes
Technically, not an app, but a great help to track my progress with the weights.
Many people have a great memory, I am not one of those people. Unfortunately, by the time I’m on the second exercise, I forget what I’ve done during the first one. How am I going to track my progress if I can’t remember how many reps I did lifting how many kilograms? I will try to write down as little as possible while working out, so as to not be one of those people sitting on the bench while on their phones, but I need to take notes, and pen and paper are a bit of a pain for me. I already have my phone during workouts, so I might as well use it. This also prevents me from forgetting my phone by a machine, since I have the wireless headphones! Yep, it’s happened in the past…
I use Google Docs because that way I can plan my workout at home on my laptop and then I can just open the spreadsheet on my phone, but you can also use the notes app on your mobile or any other app you want, of course. Even pen and paper, the key is to track your workouts.
As you can see, the apps I use are not out of the ordinary. Some are more specific than others, but there are some basic ones you probably are already using.
What fitness apps do you normally use? Do you know of any good yoga apps I should try? I’m still searching!