Top General Fitness Apps To Help You Shape Up
It’s tough to find the enthusiasm to get off the couch and into the gym. This is a common complaint for the many who would like to get in shape. But those six-pack abs don’t just grow overnight. And if you lack the budget for a personal trainer or a nutritionist, the only real option is to take your health into your own hands. Thankfully, there are some apps available that can turn exercise into an exciting challenge rather than an irritating chore.
For the next installment in our three-part series on helpful health apps, I take a look at a handful of tools to include in your fitness arsenal. For those who prefer to get in shape via heart-pounding aerobic classes, body weight exercise routines, and good old weight training, these apps are for you.
Fitness Buddy turns your smartphone into a pocket-sized personal trainer so you can hit the gym with confidence.
Highly recommended by the likes of ESPN magazine and Gizmodo, this comprehensive app boasts more than 1,000 unique exercises and HD video tutorials in its massive database. Particularly helpful for strength training, the app is an all-in-one exercise companion. The video tutorials offer step-by-step breakdowns of exercises to help users perfect technique and target specific muscle groups. Don’t see one of your preferred exercises on their list? Add it to the database with just a few taps of your finger.
If you’re like me and hit the free weights area of the gym and feel a bit clueless, just load up one of the dozens of preset routines to get started. Then record each workout and track specific body metrics, like BMI and blood pressure, to see how you’re progressing.
The bottom line is that this is one of the most popular and most all-inclusive strength training apps available. Its tricked-out database and in-depth weight and body metric trackers offer users all the tools they really need to start toning up and slimming down.
Jillian Michaels Slim Down
For those of us who need a little tough love (and simultaneous hand holding), Jillian Michaels Slim Down delivers. The eponymous app is from the notorious trainer on the popular reality show “The Biggest Loser,” and is known for her no-nonsense approach to getting in shape.
After using the app for quite some time, I can say that it’s definitely a viable option for those who like tailored fitness plans and intense, fat-burning workouts. Slim Down Solution includes the usual features found in similar fitness apps, like a workout database and a food log to track calories and micronutrients (think fat, carbs, sugar, etc.). But it also includes a section of motivating tips and dozens of healthy recipes to keep your food intake on track.
The workouts are challenging (try completing a full circuit of the lower body exercises) and there are plenty of instructional videos to walk newbies through each move. But my favourite aspect of this app is that the routines focus on body weight exercises — so you don’t need any special equipment and can complete the workouts right in your living room.
After creating an account, the free app download unlocks about 30 exercises, a walk and run tracker, the fitness journal and a fairly extensive recipe feature. For more customized content, users can shell out an additional $3.99 a week for tailored meal plans, another 150 exercises and a personalized workout routine. It’s a bit pricey for the content, but potentially worth it for those who find that the one-size-fits-all fitness options in other apps don’t meet their needs.
This app is proof that exercise pays in more ways than one.
Pact forces the fitness-challenged to put their money where their mouth is by offering incentives to eat well and get moving. Users create sets of fitness and diet goals (such as four workouts weekly and three portions of veggies daily) and put up a dollar amount to seal the deal. Then log each meal and workout session as evidence you’re meeting your self-imposed milestones.
The dollar increments are high enough to motivate users to be true to their word: $5, $10 or $20 is at stake daily. And when a user doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain — you guessed it — they’ll find themselves a few dollars poorer. The cash is automatically deducted from the user’s credit card or connected PayPal account for each day they miss a workout or healthy meal (ouch). But for those who hit their goals, they’ll earn a little cash for living healthy.
If nothing else has helped a healthy lifestyle stick, a little financial coercion might be the ticket.
The bottom line
These are just a few options floating around the app store to help you finally fulfill that New Year’s Resolution to get fit (remember those?). Even if you don’t want to spring for a gym membership, the aforementioned alternatives can help you get in shape with a little help from your smartphone.
What other fitness apps have you tried? Share your success stories with us in the comments below.