Are Mobile Fitness Apps Worth the Download?

Athlete checking data on mobile device

While many of us would like to think we are living a healthy and fit lifestyle, sometimes we need a little proof. A whopping 70 percent of people use mobile fitness apps on a daily basis to track calories and monitor activity, according to a 2014 study by Mobiquity.

The study also revealed that people claim to be healthier because they are using a smartphone app, but in reality, most were eating many more calories than they thought they were. Whoops!

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed plan to add a wearable device to their routines. I’ve already discussed the most popular fitness app that pairs with a wearable, namely FitBit, here, but there is also an entire category of apps by the big name fitness clubs dedicated to creating workouts or goals, finding classes, and tracking their visits.

Fitness clubs use mobile apps to interact with members and prospects

LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym are just a few of the big names that have developed apps for members and non-members alike. Naturally, the best content is saved for paying members, so the clubs are finding that the apps are a great tool to recruit new members.

personal trainer

A personal trainer can cost more than $50 an hour. Why not get some new ideas or workouts on your smartphone?

Gold’s Gym muscles up on IT to engage with customers

Screenshot from myPath app by Gold's Gym

Screenshot from myPath app by Gold’s Gym

Launched in early August, Gold’s Gym’s latest entry into the fitness apps category is called myPATH, with a variety of useful features:

  • Allows members and non-members to create personal workout goals
  • Tracks workouts
  • Connects third-party fitness apps and devices like MapMyRun and FitBit,
  • Displays group exercise class schedules, discounts and more.

The company’s CIO, Bill Floyd is hoping that the app will “gamify” the member experience, with members able to unlock badges or compete with other members.

Some of us prefer to do our own thing. Don’t worry, there’s an app for that! Nike+ Training Club is one of the most popular. Geared toward women, the app has over 100 workouts from Nike Master Trainers for all levels.

Screenshot from Nike+ Training Club app

Screenshot from Nike+ Training Club app

I couldn’t write about this app without testing it out myself, and I’m here to tell you that it is a lot of fun. I think it would be easier to use on an iPad or tablet (which you can) rather than my phone, but it was fairly intuitive to use, and just took me a few minutes to get the hang of it.

You can scroll through tons of workouts, for all levels of fitness. Each workout displays the duration, approximate calorie burn and equipment necessary to complete it. Each move is demonstrated and then a timer starts automatically, during which time you should be completing the activity. Then, you can moves seamlessly onto the next move. It’s really pretty slick, and free!

The app syncs to the NikeFuel band, which I don’t have, so I can’t comment on that functionality, and it also calculates your movements with a measurement called NikeFuel, which I’m afraid I find slightly suspect, but if you aren’t interested in the typical stats, like steps, calories, etc., it may be fun and another way to “gamify” physical activity.

All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend trying a mobile fitness app. You’ve got nothing to lose, and may gain some news ideas and new friends along the way. Nike+ Training Club is only one of the freebies to download. Check out JEFIT, GAIN, or try Couch-to-5k if you want to start running.

If you work out, would you prefer a personal trainer or an app?

Would turning exercise into a game motivate you to exercise more?