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?

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Do you even instagram, bro?

© Dreamstime.com Social media for fitnessAs it turns out, social media (SM) is rather ideal for spreading awareness about a fit and healthy lifestyle. Facebook is the perfect place to brag about your latest run (including a map of your route). You can show off a yoga pose you’ve finally mastered or post a pic of your new workout outfit on Instagram, maybe post a Vine video showing a tricky free weight lift or show off your abs on Pinterest.

How Social Networking Can Boost Your Workout

Fitspo (fitness inspiration) image from Pinterest

Fitspo (fitness inspiration) image from Pinterest

But we weekend (and weekday) warriors aren’t the only ones who have bought into the hype of social media. Health and fitness professionals from around the world have commandeered platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to share their wisdom as well as make a few bucks. Using social media to drive customers to a website with all of the bells and whistles has allowed the pros to monetize their expertise without even leaving their home gym.

Exercising Social Media Influence in the Fitness Industry

No Heavy Lifting Required, Just Open Your Browser

For a reasonable monthly membership fee, usually around $20 or less (many are free), you can join a group of like-minded folks who share the same interests and goals. For example, check out these popular apps/websites:

Strava mobile app

Strava mobile app

  • Fitocracy Allows users to ‘follow’ other users, view and comment on their workouts and join groups for specific interests.
  • Daily Mile Find training partners, share photos, local events, and routes.
  • Strava Lets you track your running and bike riding with GPS, join Challenges, share photos from your activities, and follow friends.

The beauty of social media is that we can all have access to experts all over the world as now anyone can have a social media presence. The detriment to social media is, once again, anyone can have a social media presence (like me, for example). Just because someone has a social media presence, it does not mean that they are an expert in the field. Most reputable online health and fitness bloggers will disclaim if they are not professionals. However, many do have various personal training certifications through associations such as NASM, ACE, or ACSM, while others are Registered Dieticians (RD), or have degrees in exercise science or physical therapy. If someone has been on social media for a few years and has thousands of followers, they are probably legit, as the SM world can sniff out fakes quickly and mercilessly.

Accountability, motivation, advice. It’s all about sharing.

I think we have only seen the beginning of social’s media’s influence on fitness, health and nutrition. The obesity epidemic and societal pressure will drive more and more of us to seek advice and support on our personal journeys to wellness, and if there is money to be made, you can be sure that there will be no shortage of apps and websites for peer-to-peer interaction. The public health system has certainly taken notice, as the online forum has supplanted the in-person support group in many instances, and researchers are diligently trying to measure the effects of social media on health behaviors.

Do you belong to a workout or nutrition forum or used online training? Has it helped you reach your goals?