I’ve written one or two articles on fitness, so I thought it worth a quick look at fitness apps to help you with your workouts. There are quite a few out there and there is a significant element of personal preference as to which you utilize. I have three main apps that I use on my phone for fitness, and they slot quite nicely into slightly different usage areas so – I’m going to take a look at those categories and try to include some other options that I know friends use and like.
GPS Tracking Apps
So in this category I mean apps that track your workout in terms of location, speed etc, usually giving you some break downs on distance splits, a GPS based map of where you ran, cycled, walked, swam etc and some included exta such as heart rate monitoring.
App of Choice: Endomondo.
This was the second app I tried I this category after Run Keeper. I can’t give a great deal of reason why I prefer Endomondo over the alternatives. All of the options in this group that I have tried have reasonably accurate traces, control for splits, comparisons of your times against others for your splits, and heart rate monitor. I don’t use a heart rate monitor that connects to the app and will explain why later, so I discount functions associated to this from my review. I do have the pro version – purchasing it when it was an Editors favourite on Google Play for a ridiculously small amount of money (50p iirc).
Endomondo has the key functions that I want for my basic use – main use is tracking walks / runs with my dog and very occasional cycling, but so do the other apps, so why Endomondo? Mainly it’s down to niggles, for example Strava launches straight into recording, I want to set myself up and be able to press a button to go and pause easily if something happens with dog. My Tracks when I tried it had slightly poor GPS tracking and I couldn’t really say why runkeeper didn’t quite fit the bill. Endomondo does have a good website, with plenty of challenges to take part in, and you can connect it in with Facebook, part of the idea of Endomondo is to build a fitness community.
Other apps I’ve tried in this category – Strava, Runkeeper, My Tracks. I have many friends who are fans of strava, especially with the nice way you can record segments and race against others over those segments (or just load other people’s recording). I think this category really comes down to trying some out and seeing which suits you the best.
Gym Fiend Apps.
So tools that let you enter or grab routines for working out, guide you through those routines, and record reps / weights that you have lifted to track progress. For me one clear winner in this category – Jefit.
Jefit has a nice combination of good interface, plenty of pre-loaded exercises and routines, backed up by a good website for reference. You can create your own routines and save them (with a choice to share for others) or download other peoples routines to use. It’s easy to use and gets the job done. There are so many exercises and routines that it is also great if you want to try something new.
So a timer that you can set up to walk through timed sets of work, whether that’s HIIT, Tabata, or something else. For me Impetus is a clear winner because of flexibility, my favourite use for it is to run circuits from the Royal Marine Circuit Training book . The interface for entering your own custom work outs is a bit fiddly the first few time you try, but once you’ve completed a couple it’s ok. In actual use the timer is good, with loud beeps, and indicators of what you are doing now and what is coming next. Most of the alternatives I’ve looked at are targeted at specifically HIIT or Tabata and thus less flexible.