Saturday, March 10, 2012

The App Review

I've been pushing my training up a bit this year, trying to get slimmer and stronger at the same time.  Owing to my techno-geek roots, I've been road testing several apps on my phone to help me out with my exercise and dieting.  For the record, I'm rocking the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, however the apps that I've used are also available for the IPhone.  In a moment of weakness, I also picked up an IPad 2, because I really wanted a tablet.    Sorry Blackberry users, I haven't missed my Blackberry ever since I moved over to Android.

My goto app for the last month has been Calorie Counter by fatsecret.  It is available for Android, IOS, and Blackberry (BB users don't say I never gave you anything).  I LOVE this app.  I use it to record what I eat every day.  It has a large database with tons of brand name foods as well as foods from popular restaurants, making recording my meals simple.  Throw in the bar code scanner, and it takes nearly no time to record each food.  It also has an exercise diary, so that I can make sure that I'm burning more calories than I'm taking in.  It also has a weight loss diary, journal and recipe ideas for some added functionality.  Essentially I use the food and exercise diaries the most.  What's nice is that the app syncs across all my devices, so I can review my progress on either my phone or my IPad.  This app is perfect for me, because it helps me stay accountable to my weight loss goals.

As far as workout tracking goes, I've been using my Garmin 610.  I've loved having a GPS watch to record my running, since I first learned about them.  The 610 is great as a watch and as a touchscreen run recorder.  It is pretty accurate, syncs quickly with satellites (usually), and can sync with multiple devices (like my heart monitor) and programs.

However, I have been trying to get to the gym more to build my upper body strength and work on my flexibility.  Along those lines, I've tried a couple different apps:  Endomondo and Mapmyfitness.  They both work on Android, IOS, and Blackberry.  Both share many of the same features, such as GPS tracking, workout timers, site integration, and social networking.  They also offer voice feedback and live tracking.  Mapmyfitness has a basic food diary, but Endomondo makes use of fun statistics to compare your workouts.  Of the two, Endomondo seemed to be a bit more touchy on my Nexus than Mapmyfitness, sometimes switching workouts from random swipes at the screen.

For those who have difficulty putting together a workout program, there is Workout Trainer by Skimble.  This program offers GPS tracking along with specific programs designed for various training goals like weight loss or muscle building.  What's nice is that they use pictures and videos to show you how do the exercises.  Be warned that while the app is free, some of the workout programs do cost as much as $10.  It does offer plenty of free workouts to help you design your own program.  I use it mainly to add some new exercise to my routine and spice things up every so often, but even then I rarely use it.

For those of you needing a basic health/wellness/medical/fitness all-in-one app, you may want to try out MyHealthTablet by the Fenway Group offers you a one stop shop for recording your information.  It is currently only on the IPad.  As a journal, it does a pretty good, albeit very basic, job of things.  This provides a lot of flexibility, but sometimes makes it seem a bit simplistic.  For the less technically inclined, this is a good thing, but I consider myself a power user so I would welcome more options.

On the non-mobile side of things, I'm currently using Daily Mile to record my running workouts.  It has a clean looking interface, syncs with my Garmin and shares the results on my Twitter feed and with my Daily Mile friends.  Before Daily Mile, I used the Runners World Training Log to record my workout sessions.  Both are pretty good, but I prefer the Daily Mile interface over the detail of the RW Log.  Garmin Connect  offers lots of detail but is tailored to sync with your Garmin Watch, so it lacks some of the flexibility and detail for other workouts.

With the diet, health and fitness industry booming, there are a ton of apps, programs and devices out there to help you reach your fitness goals.  These few that I use are pretty good, but I've barely scratched the surface of what's available.  Everyone has an app or feature that they love, and if that's the case, stick with the app you're using.  However, no app in the world will help you lose weight, tone up or stay fit, if you don't do the hard work of diet and exercise yourself.   Remember these are only tools, not shortcuts to being a better, more fit you.

Flag Counter

free counters