It’s official. We love our apps. According to research, the average person uses nine mobile apps on a daily basis and 30 apps every month.* Pick a topic – any topic – and there’s an app for it.
Fitness, you say? You’ve got endless options here too. But with so many fitness apps to choose from, how do you know which ones are worthy of your time, effort, and precious phone space?
To help narrow your search, we looked to Certified Kettlebell Trainer, Tara-Leigh Torikian. As a fitness junkie, healthy nutrition lover, and group trainer at ESQ Athletic Inc., Tara-Leigh regularly uses fitness apps for motivation, instruction, and results tracking. Here are a few she recommends, along with our personal take on each one:
NIKE+ RUN CLUB (NRC)
Overview: NRC is a running app designed to help you build strength, speed, and endurance as a novice or advanced runner. Whether your goal is to enjoy leisurely jogs around your neighborhood or train for competitive events, NRC can keep you on track and in the zone.
Key Features: NRC lets you track and store details of your runs (such as pace, distance, elevation, heart rate, etc.), offers customized coaching plans to help you meet your goals, provides motivational talks from Nike coaches and athletes, invites you
to friendly challenges with friends in the global Nike community, rewards you with badges for reaching different milestones, and so much more.
We Love How: NRC removes the intimidation factor for first-time runners. Its “Get Started Collection” provides clear, easy guidance to prime your body and mind for best results. We also love the support and camaraderie of NRC; You can receive motivating in-run audio cheers from friends and send people cheers of your own. It takes what is otherwise a solo sport and gives it an uplifting community feel.
Potential Set-Backs: You’ll need your data on while you’re running to use this app. Also, you’ll of course need to have your phone on you – which can be bothersome/feel bulky to some, but completely fine to others.
Final Verdict: NRC is a win for us as it easily adapts to your unique running goals, helping you take your running as seriously (or as casually) as you want to. It provides the data and support you need to get the most from every stride.
Overview: One of the biggest names in wearable tech, Fitbit has become far more than a standard step counter. Its wide range of features helps you track and manage multiple parts of your healthy lifestyle. While you don’t need a Fitbit device to use the app, having one will provide a richer, more seamless Fitbit experience.
Cost: The app is free, but Fitbit devices range in price from approximately $79 to $329 US.
Key Features: Fitbit lets you track your daily activity, record your workouts, log your meals, set reminders to hydrate, monitor your weight, join in friendly competition with other steppers, and more. With its Cardio Fitness Score, you can also get a snapshot of how fit you are for your age.
We Love How: Fitbit takes a holistic approach to wellness by monitoring your sleep and providing insights into your sleeping patterns. (If you have an Inspire HR device, you can even see how much light, deep, and REM sleep you’re getting). You can also schedule a reminder that will prompt you to start unwinding before bedtime, making it easier to stick to a regular sleep routine. When morning hits, you can wake up with ease to a silent/vibrating alarm set on your Fitbit app.
Potential Set-Backs: As with anything else, the novelty of doing something new can wear off over time. While you might be super active after first downloading the Fitbit app, it’s easy to slip into old habits. Taking advantage of all of Fitbit’s great features will help you keep up the momentum.
Final Verdict: The Fitbit app is great for people who need and want more motivation to live a healthier lifestyle. The friendly, personalized user experience adds fun to the get-fit process.
DOWN DOG YOGA
Overview: Down Dog is a yoga app that promises “great yoga anywhere.” It offers a studio-like experience, with a variety of programs for beginners to more experienced yogis.
Cost: Free. There is an option to pay for additional features, but the free content is extensive.
Key Features: Down Dog’s claim to fame is that it provides you with a brand-new yoga experience every time, rather than having you follow the same old pre-recorded videos over and over again. This keeps you interested and coming back for more. You can focus on different practice areas to hone particular skills or rotate through them all. Everything is fully customizable, including your level, the session duration, your instructor’s voice, positions, and more.
We Love How: You can save your favorite sessions to replay later, or download them to your device so you can practice them offline.
Potential Set-Backs: Without an in-person yoga instructor to guide you, you may be unknowingly using bad form. Paying close attention to the videos will help you incorporate proper posture.
Final Verdict: Down Dog makes it easy to practice yoga in the comfort of your home. No having to drive to the gym or yoga studio; no feeling embarrassed around others who’ve mastered the activity. While Down Dog provides instruction for all levels, it’s especially great for beginners who want to learn the basics before taking their yoga skills to the outside world.
Overview: Fit Radio is the #1 fitness music app in the App Store, with music spanning more than 40 different genres to help keep your workouts fresh and fun. The idea is to spend less time creating playlists and more time exercising. New playlists and curated DJ mixes are added daily so you never suffer from same-song fatigue.
Cost: You’ll receive a free 30-day trial with your download, but will then be prompted to upgrade to Premium ($27.00 US quarterly/$99.99 yearly).
Key Features: While music is obviously a big part of the experience, the app is divided into three sections: Music, Cardio, and Strength. The Music feature lets you sort through suggested genres to create your own ‘favorite’ list and receive suggested mixes. With Cardio and Strength, you get self-guided workouts covering a wide range of activities, targeting different muscle groups and equipment. There is also an option to set custom-timed intervals where the app will count you in and out so your music isn’t interrupted while training.
We Love How: You can search music by activity – i.e. Pool Party, Fun Run, Elliptical, etc. to heighten each experience. The Tempo Run is another popular feature that detects your pace and plays a music mix that matches your footsteps perfectly. (How cool is that?)
Potential Set-Backs: While the content is well worth the money, the subscription price might be an issue for some.
Final Verdict: Many mainstream gyms stick with the same Top 40s music to appeal to the masses. If you prefer to train to different tunes (while discouraging chatty gym-goers from interrupting your workout flow), tuning into Fit Radio is a great option.
NIKE TRAINING CLUB (NTC)
Overview: NTC offers workouts (over 185 of them!) for every fitness level, with helpful tips on training, nutrition, mindset, and sleep. Dubbed as “your ultimate personal trainer,” NTC covers everything from strength and endurance to mobility and yoga.
Key Features: NTC is all about customization. You can choose your workout time (from 5 to 47 minutes), your level (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced), your intensity (Low, Moderate, or High), and your style (Bodyweight Only, Light, and Full Equipment). You can also choose between time-based and rep-based options. Once you select your workout, the app features short video clips to demonstrate the movements outlined in your session. For even greater interactivity, the workouts are self-guided with a voice that will count you in, offer you motivation during your workout, and let you know when your timed round is up.
We Love How: NTC has a “Short Workouts” collection for time-strapped people who still want to squeeze in some quick exercise. These workouts are between 5 and 22 minutes long, with plenty of options that don’t require equipment.
Potential Set-Backs: If you’re used to working out without an app, you might find that NTC slows you down at first as you’re constantly looking at your phone. But this applies to all apps, and won’t be an issue once you get used to the visual instruction.
Final Verdict: NTC is great for people who seek instruction and motivation, but who can’t afford a personal trainer. NTC provides a wealth of support to help you focus on your goals, on your schedule. There’s no guesswork needed, as sets and reps are all outlined for you.
And these just scratch the surface…
With hundreds of fitness apps to choose from, finding your favorite may take some trial and error. Give these five a try and see if they’re the right fit for getting you where you want to go!
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.