Published on January 27, 2014 | by David Drake

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Use technology to save money and help you keep fit

January is usually the month when many people will take themselves along to a gym and sign up to a costly membership. As finances are run dry from the festive season, why not turn to your trusty phone – with an abundance of apps that will help you get in shape and are a lot cheaper than memberships.  

  

Screen grabs from Fitness Buddy

Some apps offer many videos of comprehensive workouts in the palm of your hand [Flickr: Jitendra Agrawal]

1. Fitness Buddy: 1700+ Exercise Workout Journal 

Offering over 1,000 videos of comprehensive workouts with a range of equipment including dumbbells, kettlebells and resistance bands. The app also includes exercises on specific categories like core, chest and cardio. Training programs can also be built to tailor-made requirements with Body Metric Tracking and Graph your body progress features.

2. Nike Training Club (free)

Nike Training club is the latest among a range of Nike fitness technology, predominately aimed at females looking to get fit. This app has a variety of programs ranging from short targeted to a full 30-day workout. Along with visual guides and demonstrations there are also female athletes like Maria Sharapova, Nike Master Trainers and other celebrities.  The app is free and allows progress to be shared on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.

3. Endomondo Sports Tracker (free)

Endomondo is for those looking to track cardio training so it is ideal for running, cycling and other endurance and distance-based activities. Record of training is stored on your profile (www.endomondo.com) and you can compare with others within the online community.

4. Gym Pocket Guide    

The free app gives a definitive guide to the various exercises in the gym, with pictures, videos and an easy to follow written guide if you are unsure how to carry out exercises. With categories for both male and females with different fitness targets, whether it is losing weight or gaining shape.

5. Run Keeper (free)

Screen grab from Run Keeper

Use an app to see your progress. [Flickr: Lachlan Hardy]

The Run Keeper is for those with Android phones. Whether you are running, walking, cycling, hiking or biking this app will track details of pace, distance covered and calculate the calories burned. This app also has an audio coach who prompts you throughout your training. In order to get a better assessment of your health and training goals, the app is patterned with other similar apps, which include MyFitnessPal, Withings and Lose It.

6. Learn Pilates (free)

Whether you are an expert at Pilates or a newbie, there are plenty of exercises on this app to fulfill your needs. The free option only contains three lessons at each level of ability – beginner, intermediate and advanced. The routines are carried out by Jaime Rutt, a certified pilates instructor for ten years, combined with a background in dance.

Value

To get an understanding of the benefits or possible drawbacks of how the apps respond and cater for clients needs. We asked two members of Becontree Heath Leisure Centre to use the apps when they came to the gym or throughout their fitness regime.

Both Geraldine Every and John Hall have very different fitness goals, so they used different features of the apps, which made for a broader analysis.

Initially, Every opted for the Nike Training club because of the emphasis on females saying: “I thought I was going to prefer the Nike Training [club] because it was aimed at women, but I found it a bit competitive and I was looking for something more basic.”

She later chose the Gym Pocket Guide, despite initially thinking the wording was to brazen and made her feel uncomfortable such as categories titled ‘Fat Loss Female’: “I preferred the Gym Pocket Guide compared to the others because it was easy to use and the other seemed to be for the more advanced fitness level.”

Hall on the other hand, who says he is an experienced weight lifter, was already aware of many of the exercises and techniques, but favoured the Fitness Buddy, saying: “The others apps were really suited to my fitness plan, but this one [Fitness Buddy], had a lot of information on the use of different equipment.”

For a professional opinion on the use of these apps Arts London News also spoke to Reformer pilates instructor Caroline Spelling and to Nicola Harris, who runs her own gym specialising in fitness for disabled people.

Harris spoke well of the use of apps saying: “Promotion of health and fitness is more important today than ever before, so these apps have got to be the step in the right direction. How they are used and who they are used by, for example people new to the idea of fitness should be careful.”

Spelling is aware of the complexity of pilates: “Pilates isn’t like other fitness regimes, it incorporates breathing techniques, engaging the core muscles; personally I don’t think an app can represent this in the same way an instructor can.”

 

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