If you are like me, COVID-19 has added some additional challenges when it comes to getting in a good workout. Lucky for us, many fitness apps can help guide us along our path toward better health and wellness.
So, how do you find the app that is right for you? In addition to checking valid resources like the ACE Healthy Living blog, you can also use the same checklist I use when evaluating apps as part of my job as the Senior Advisor for Fitness Technology at ACE.
Five Factors for Fitness Apps
- Goal Setting
- Social Sharing
The last thing you need is another excuse to not exercise, so if the cost is too high, if it is too confusing to use, doesn’t help you with goal setting or connect you with your social networks for those very important virtual “high-fives” (socially distanced-approved of course) or is not based in sound exercise science, my suggestion is to find something else.
With the challenges of COVID-19 in mind, the three categories for this review are Music, Move, and Mindful.
Music can be a vital motivator during exercise for many.
For my beach walks, I like to multitask and listen to a podcast. I’ve used the Apple podcast player, but have recently used both Stitcher and Overdrive. I like being able to listen to the podcast in 2x speed, meaning I can listen to a 30-minute podcast in 15 minutes. At 2x speed, I can still understand what is being said.
When I want something more active, I like to use a fitness music app. Some of the free apps like SoleSonic and WorkoutMusic use generic tracks (not the real artists) and include ads. Others, like RockMyWorld and FitRadio, offer reasonable monthly subscriptions with the actual songs and no ads. They also have an audio coaching feature; think of it as your coach in your ear, motivating you and suggesting changes in speed and movement during your exercise session. This is well worth the subscription, particularly when your coach happens to be an ACE Certified Professional.
Finding a quality fitness app to temporarily replace your usual gym workout can be a daunting task. While it seems every week a new Hollywood star or former athlete is launching the latest and greatest workout app, I fear some may not follow the proper exercise science when suggesting how to work out. I would much rather follow the qualified advice from an ACE Certified Professional.
That said, the ones that I’ve evaluated include the 7 Minute Workout, a cost-effective ($2.99 per month), easy-to-use fitness app that connects with Apple Health. The app also allows the user to create a custom workout, or you could have an ACE Certified Personal Trainer create one for you; it does, however, lack the option for social sharing for the virtual high five.
FitOn app is a video-based, free (with in-app purchase of the Pro version for $19.99 per year) workout app. The video quality is excellent; the design easy to use and allows the user to connect a heart-rate monitor that shows on the video screen and includes an overall leaderboard to work out in real-time with your friends, which is a nice touch. The virtual sharing function is outstanding, allowing the user to take a picture after the training and share it on Instagram, Facebook or via text. Like the 7 Minute Workout, it is challenging to try and check if the instructors are certified.
If nothing else, COVID-19 reminded me of the importance of taking time out of my busy and stressful day to focus on the mindful side of my overall wellness. My go-to apps are Calm and Headspace. The Calm tagline of “Find Your Calm – Sleep more. Stress less. Live better.” resonates with me. They are also very transparent with the science behind the Calm app (see their website) and offer many free resources. I fall asleep to their Sleep Stories on my Amazon Alexa and listen to their Sirius-XM calm channel while I work. Monthly and annual subscriptions are available.
The Headspace app touts itself as “your guide to everyday mindfulness in just a few minutes a day.” Headspace provides guided mediation, can be connected to Alexa or Google Assistant and includes a webpage dedicated to the science of the app. If you are recently unemployed, Headspace is providing (at the time of this writing) a free subscription. Visit their website for more details.
So there you have it, my review on fitness apps that you can try today to help with the challenges of COVID19 in the summer of 2020. Have you tried any others that I should know about? Let me know on Twitter @tedvickey.