There's an app for everything, and that includes hitting the gym and meeting your personal fitness goals

fitness appIt's been almost 40 years since Sylvester Stallone's character chased a chicken around to get in shape in the original Rocky movie — arguably the simplest and most old-school method of getting a workout in.

Things aren't quite so simple anymore, but thanks to all the new fitness technology out there, they don't have to be as complicated as they seem.

For me, fitness and health related technologies fall into two categories: the gadgets, and the apps and both can be good tools when you're working out solo. Personal trainers are great and so are group fitness classes, but both can get a bit expensive when you're getting fit on a budget. I think I've tried almost every fitness option out there, and there are definitely a few apps and technologies that stand out for me. I'll start by discussing what I use most — the gadgets.

There are two things that I don't go to the gym without. The first is my heart rate monitor. I hate to break it to you guys but you know that "calories burned" number you keep track of on the elliptical and treadmill? Pretty inaccurate, especially if you aren't entering your age and weight into the machine every time you hop on. My heart rate monitor is specifically calibrated to me, so it keeps a way more accurate record of what I'm really achieving at the gym.

I don't spend a whole lot of time on those machines because I think cardio is the devil, but I still think it's important to know how hard you're working, so you can stay accountable. I can keep track of my heart rate and how many calories I'm burning even while I'm lifting weights, or walking to the water fountain (hey, it counts!)

The second thing I always bring with me is my iPod nano. It was a birthday gift, and oh what a gift. It serves a couple purposes, the most obvious of which is music. There are so many studies out there that associate listening to music while exercising with increased motivation and performance, and frankly sometimes you do just need a little Beyoncé to get you through that last set.

It also has the Nike+Running App on it, which many people might be familiar with since it boasts about 7 million app users worldwide. In the summertime, when I actually venture on the occasional run, this handy little app tracks my time and distance for me. If I pre-set the distance I want to go, it even gives me a countdown by kilometer in my headphones. Anyone like me who can't wait to get to the end of a run understands the appeal here.

A new workout buddy

FitnessAppBringing your phone to the gym can actually help you get fit, thanks to a variety of new fitness related applications.

Photo by Olivia Grecu
Confession: When I started writing this I had had the N+TC app on my phone for at least a year, but I had never used it (I have since tried it a couple of times, and may I say, ouch), and here lies the main problem I see with do-it-yourself fitness.

If you are not a self-motivator, or simply aren't quite sure how to get started, there isn't a lot fitness apps can do for you in that department. They don't call to make sure you go to the gym after work, they don't stop you from consuming one too many beers the night before a scheduled Saturday morning workout and they definitely don't kick your butt for you. That being said, if you can find the ones you like and get to the gym on a consistent basis, fitness gadgets and apps can be your new workout buddy.

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MAKING THE CUT

I've downloaded and deleted at least a dozen apps off of my phone. Here are a few that were worth keeping:

Nike+Training Club: Free
This app is easy to use and well designed. There are tons of workouts and training tips available to the user, so this app will keep you working hard, and your body guessing for quite some time. Also, there aren't many apps that let you customize your workout by selecting the exercises you like best from each program, which makes for a very personal feel.

Tabata Pro: Free
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is all the rage these days — that's when you alternate a period of intense work with a period of relaxed recovery during exercise. In 1996, a Japanese researcher discovered that by using the Tabata method, seven Olympic-hopeful speed skaters all improved their anaerobic capacity after six days by working out for only four minutes per day. Sounds amazing, but a tabata isn't easy. You alternate 20 seconds of all-out effort with ten seconds of recovery for eight rounds. This handy app times your rounds for you with a stopwatch that you can hear, even when you have music playing in your headphones.

Nutrition+: Free
There are a few apps out there like this. It allows you too look up many common food items and get fairly accurate nutrition information on them. Going out for sushi and want to know which rolls won't cancel out that workout you just crushed? Just type in 'sushi' to help you make a good choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Do fitness apps really
help you to achieve success at the gym? 

 





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