I am a guy always on the hunt for the next best smart phone app that will help me create a plan and track progress for gym workouts. For me, a solid phone app makes for a more efficient, less intimidating workout when I hit the gym alone (which is often the case because of work hours).
This is unlike running, where I have time to train with a group and they give a set schedule for marathon training, giving me the best of both worlds — a schedule I can hold onto and the social component to physical exercise.
Of course, finding the perfect app can be a choir itself. I’ve went through many fitness apps and decided, why not review them, from my perspective? I decided to start with my favorite.
For the past two weeks I used Fitocracy, a free app available in the iTunes store and Google Play, when going to the gym. With an easy to use interface, setting up a workout routine on my phone app is so much easier than print outs or a paper notebook to track my progress. Basically, in the app you select the calendar day you are working in, search the exercises you want to do, set the number of reps and sets, and you are good to go.
The app even has a function where you can save certain routines and copy them to other days. Right now I have a three-day a week chest and legs routine I found in Men’s Fitness that has revolutionized my rather chaotic routine of, “Ooh, that machine looks interesting, let’s try that.”
I have yet to find a type of gym exercise not in the app’s catalogue. Additionally, with each exercise I pick there is a nice, concise description of how to do each activity (very pleasant for a guy like myself who literally forgot how to do an “assisted dip” when he got to the gym. Yeah, I’m that much of a weight lifting amateur.)
Beyond that though, and what makes this free app better than many of the others, is its desktop website. A part of the function of the app is the ability to upload and share your workouts to Fitocracy online, where you can set goals, view progress, “level up,” and share milestones with fellow Fitocracy users. Basically, the app and desktop integrate a social component to going to the gym.
You can make friends and invite friends from other social network sites (Twitter, Runkeeper, and Facebook) to take part in goals and competitions, while receiving that-a-boys. There also is a pretty specific forum section where one can get feedback and input on everything from running to weightlifting to martial arts.
I honestly have not delved that deeply into the social networking part of the program, but it seems to be the real deal between app users and has left me feeling more confident about my gym routine, and looking forward to gym visits I used to dread because I had no plan or support going in.
The only negative I may give the app is completing a routine my first time and having my phone blow up after receiving a long list of kudos (some of which I felt were auto-generated from the app) I wasn’t expecting through push alerts. I never thought they would end, but a simple setting fixed most of that.
Overall, after trying a few other programs (that I will review from time to time), I give Fitocracy an A.
Do you have a fitness or health app you prefer? I’d love to test it out. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org