Spring is here, the time of year that inspires us to run outside, arms waving in joy at the first warm sunlight in months.
And then immediately look for someplace to sit down, completely out of breath.
Unfortunately, the winter months (and holiday fare) are detrimental to that little thing called health and fitness. In the colder months, it’s easy to justify sitting in front of your top rated tabled or smartphone, flinging birds at pigs. Now that it’s spring, though, it’s time to put aside your tablet and smartphone, and get back into shape — just like you promised yourself three months ago!
Hold it! Now isn’t quite the time to be discarding your smartphone in favor of a pair of running shorts (and not just because it’s still a bit cold out). Before you head outside, hit the gym, or move that pile of dirty clothes off your treadmill, it’s time to hit the iOS app store or Google Play. Here are our five best apps that will give you a great workout for more than your thumbs.
“Just 3 days a week, only 30 minutes a day, for just 9 weeks,” is the tagline for this running assistant, built to do exactly what it says: get you from couch-shape to 5k-shape without killing you. The app breaks up training into walk/running segments, and provides support in the form of one of three virtual trainers (each with a different personality and voice). It can also sync with your playlists, and smoothly interrupts the music when it needs to give you new instructions. The app can also track GPS data to give you a good overview of how you’re doing, but it’s compatible with most devices, including the GPS-less iPod touch (handy for those who want to leave their phones behind when they’re working out).
iFitness – iOS – $0.99
This impressive app isn’t particularly great for the tracking features, but it does act as an impressive information exercise repository. It also has the information sorted by muscle group, body area, and available equipment. As someone who doesn’t know the proper form, term, or even muscle group for things as simple as planks to pull-ups (or even what equipment they use) this app has been an invaluable resource on my top rated tablet and smartphone for making sure that I don’t injure myself. Or others.
Right now, this app is an iOS only offering. There is a similarly named app available for Android users, but a different developer, higher cost, and user reported problems with the app make it hard to believe it’s the same thing.
Zombies, Run! – iOS – $7.99
The sad reality of most zombie apocalypses is that those who have been specifically training for them (you know, gamers) are also the least fit to survive them. If zombie shows, movies, and games are clue, there is an outrageous amount of running involved during them — and eating Cheetos while wielding a controller does not leave you in the best cardiovascular shape to survive that (much less the zombies). Zombies, Run! is the app to help change that, creating a deceptively deep game by being part GPS tracker, part radio play, and part video game. You take on the role of a zombie apocalypse survivor, an (aptly named) runner who is out to get supplies for your friends and loved ones back at home base. Along the way you discover helpful items, and discover why you’re living in a post-apocalyptic world.
And, of course, you break a sweat. Even if running in terror is not the goal of most joggers, this app is a great way to break the monotony of a morning/afternoon/evening jog with frantic radio calls and moaning zombie hordes. Currently, it’s only available on the iPhone, but the developers have promised an Android version in late spring.
If turning exercise into a game is the spoonful of sugar you need to make fitness a part of your life (I’m right there with you), then Fitocracy may be the way you want to track it. This social fitness tracking service lets you earn points and level up by recording your daily exercise, and how much effort you feel like they took. You then get tracked on the site’s leader-boards, and can compare yourself to the global Fitocracy folk, or set up groups with your friends and compete there. Fitocracy also features “quests” which reward extra points for completing groups of exercises together — giving you a motivation to grind out that extra set of crunches (for example) to get the point bonus.
The recently released iOS app streamlines the mobile device web version of the site, and helps make recording workouts, checking progress, and talking with friends or groups more simple. While they do have plans for an Android version, there’s no specific date for it — those of use who are using a top rated tablet with an OS named after a delicious treat will have to make do with the web version.
Here in Montana, you can’t spit without hitting a trailhead that leads into a beautiful hiking area. In other places, you may not be so lucky.
The Backpacker GPS Trails app can help you find a place to hike by providing topographic maps, GPS coordinates, and preloaded trips. This app helps lead you through hikes, and can be used as either a local search tool, or to help you plan your next trip. The free version is web connected only, meaning that if you’re heading into the wilderness, it may not be as useful. By paying the upgrade fee, you can download the maps directly to your device, making it much easier to find your way there and back again in the truly wild places.
Do you have a favorite app that makes it easy to get up and get going this Spring? Let us know in the comments!