Getting into a workout routine is pretty much the worst. In an era where a lot of folks work sedentary jobs, and are often overworked, it’s tough to have time to workout, much less budget that time for it. While apps have had a negative influence on a lot of aspects of life, particularly social cues, they can also help you figure out life lessons with personalized takes —almost like tiny little personal gurus.
While calendar apps and schedulers are great at getting you focused, they won’t necessarily explain the types of workouts you should be doing, and how often. That’s where all of these apps come in.
Runner Up: Map My Fitness
Going out for a casual jog with a friend or spouse is one of the most fun activities I can think of in the realm of exercising, and apps help make that process a little smoother. By tracking subtle movements, pacing, and distance, you can help improve yourself without having too much pressure like you’re running a live race or competing against everyone else for “points.”
Runkeeper publicly or privately, tracks your workouts by way of GPS, and lets you set your own goals in terms of speed or weight, while providing a plan to follow on top of that. I’ve mostly used it casually in tandem with my Fitbit (which is one of the best motivators), but it gets the job done.
Runner Up: Nike+ Training Club
One of the best things you can do is exercise a little bit every day. It’s part of the process of breaking habits that I mentioned above, and can fit into just about any lifestyle, even if you’re rushing to work every morning and spending most of your day there. As a busy writer I tried DailyBurn for a few months, and was mostly satisfied with the results.
In short, it’s a VOD service for exercise videos, but it also has a small element of curation to it. You’re paying for the library of routines, no doubt, but the fact that they have new broadcasts at 9AM ET that are available for 24 hours helps keep things fresh, rather than watching the same stuff over and over until you get bored and never work out again.
Runner Up: Sworkit
Fitness Buddy is one of those apps that is tied to a subscription fee, but it’s worth giving a shot at least once if you’re the type of person who hates asking questions at the gym. At this point the app has acquired quite the library of instructional videos, with over 2,000 guides and 1,000 videos to choose from.
The big draw is its routine curation though, as it combines multiple entries into full workouts. I found it as a useful reference point while on the treadmill, while I was prepping for other machines or free form exercises like squats. You’re going to need to work out regularly to justify the fee, but once you’ve acquired the knowledge on how to say, bench press, you won’t need it.
Runner Up: RunQuest 21k
The “Couch to 5K” phenomenon really took off these past few years because of one major phrase—”couch.” With shows getting over 10 million viewers there are a lot of folks spending their afternoons on them, and the idea that anyone could eventually morph from zero to hero is enticing.
RunDouble’s big draw is that it features a heavily muted interface, and only really tells you what you need to know. It tracks your progress, sure, but it mostly just allows runners to program a routine at their pace, and eventually work towards a heftier goal like a 5K race. I’m not particularly fond of running, so it’s great that you can tweak your goals as needed, in the sense that it’s not limited to “just” 5K training.
Runner Up: Fitbit
One of the easiest things you can do to either get or stay in shape is walk. I lost roughly 80 pounds this past year solely watching my dietary intake and doing roughly 30 minutes of walking at minimum a day. That’s why AllTrails excels, because it caters to just about any type of workout, from low to high intensity, by focusing on trails.
AllTrails is basically Yelp for running paths. You can input a local or faraway location, then the app, which has a large amount of users, will display reviews and information about each trail, in addition to providing a difficulty rating. There’s a small gamification element with race times, but for the most part this is a laid back application that’s designed to help you uncover new places to work out near your home—though I’ve also found it useful when traveling.