Don’t Want a Standalone Device? The Best Fitness Apps 2016
While many of us have tried to simplify things, preferring to carry with us just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds, fitness tracker manufacturers are doing their best to convince us that we need their wristlets and clip-ons to track our activity.
Do we really need them, though?
Too Much Stuff
In short? Probably not. Why have yet another device (and spend the money for it) when you can download an app that performs essentially the same functions and takes up no physical space.
OK, so it will take up disk space, but you can always delete a few selfies to make room.
If you’re trying to avoid buying a fitness tracker but still want to keep tabs on your exercise and overall health, here are some fitness apps that we like.
Fitness Apps for Exercise
Obviously, a big part of fitness is getting enough exercise. Whether your preferred workout consists of running, walking, weight lifting, yoga, or something else, there’s an app for that (to borrow a phrase).
Some simply teach and track, while others provide great motivation, working in social components and other factors to push you toward your fitness goals. These exercise apps are definitely winners in our book.
1. Nike+ Training Club
Nike is an international fitness name you can trust, and the Nike+ Training Club is an incredibly powerful app for both iOS and Android that will help move you toward your goals.
Whether your intent is to get lean, strong toned, or focused, this app has a clear and easy to follow strategy for you. Actually, it’s got over 100, all depending on your current fitness level and how much time you want to devote each week to your activity.
All of the Nike+ Training Club workouts are designed by Nike Master Trainers, and the overwhelmingly positive results that users report are tough to argue with. The app’s social facet puts you in touch with your sporty pals and lets you motivate and stay motivated. But the most impressive aspect of this thorough app? It’s totally free.
The name of this app may sound like some distant relative of R2D2, but in fact, it stands for Couch to 5k. In other words, it’s a fitness app for people who have not, up until the point of actually downloading it, been all that into fitness.
Beginners, in other words. Perhaps that’s you?
C25K is free for both iOS and Android, and it can lead you through a training program that carries you from zero (or couch) to 5k is just eight weeks. It builds your strength and stamina up gradually, and it really works, as evidenced by the millions of success stories cited on the app’s website.
It pairs with My Fitness Pal (described below) and Apple HealthKit.
Plug in your headphones for an audio coach and to listen to your tunes — it integrates with your iTunes playlists.
3. Runtastic, Runtastic Six Pack Abs, Runtastic Butt Trainer
Runtastic has created a thoroughly impressive trio of fitness apps. The original may be the most well known, but the Six Pack Abs and Butt Trainer apps are well worth a mention because of how simple and effective they are.
The original is totally free and uses your phone’s GPS to track distance, time, splits, elevation, speed, pace, calories burned, and much more. Plus you can easily share all of your achievements and maybe humble brag just a little on all of your social networks. Upgrade to Runtastic PRO for £3.30 to get features like voice coach, routes, heart rate monitoring, and more.
As for Six Pack Abs and Butt Trainer, both of these use avatars and easy instructions for targeted workouts to tone your specific problem areas. They’re both simple, straightforward apps without a ton of extra features, but they’re free, and they work well.
The best news of all is that if you love these Runtastic apps, there are 13 more (a total of 16) that can help you keep tabs on everything from cycling to sit-ups to sleep.
Here’s another high quality yet totally free app for both Android and iOS. Endomondo is all about encouraging you to be more active, no matter what your preferred activity may be. Seriously: it’s got activities like running and walking and cycling, of course, but also things like kite surfing, handball, cross country skiing, and lots more.
The app can help you set targets and give you audio cues to push you further as you’re in motion. The social component lets you offer support and also throw down challenges, if that sort of thing keeps you motivated.
Endomondo tracks distance, speed, time, calories burned, and all the usual vitals, then gives you your details and progress in easy to read graphical readouts. It’s compatible with lots of wearables, too: Garmin, Pebble, Apple Watch, and many more. Upgrade to Endomondo’s premium version for a few quid per month for no ads, heart rate monitoring (as long as you’ve got a compatible monitor), and more.
The social component lets you offer support and also throw down challenges.
5. Fitness Buddy
Fitness Buddy costs under £1, yet it’s like a personal trainer in your pocket. Whether you lift free weights, use weight machines, swing kettlebells, or rely on your body’s own resistance for your training, Fitness Buddy can help you train better.
It contains over 1700 exercises, over 1000 of which are complete with HD videos to show you how to do them properly. There are thousands of photos and animations, too, plus more than 75 workout routines specific to your equipment, goals, and gender.
The app can also track your weight and metrics, and then give you a chart of your progress. For such a minuscule cost, you get quite a lot with this one.
It’s like a personal trainer in your pocket!
6. Yoga Studio
Don’t worry if your favourite Lululemon pants are in the laundry pile — the Yoga Studio app is your very own personal yoga class in your living room. It offers more than 24 hours of high quality HD videos and includes almost 300 poses, all with instructor commentary. No matter your yoga level — beginner, intermediate, or advanced — you’ll be able to find a workout that’s suitable for your ability.
Yoga Studio can also help you create a workout based on your goal; it can target strength, flexibility, focus, or relaxation. The app also does time-based workouts, so you’ll never feel rushed to finish.
Only want to do certain poses? You can customise a routine, and the app will string them together seamlessly. It’s for iOS only and runs about £2.50, but when you consider what 24 hours’ worth of yoga DVDs would cost you, that’s really not bad at all.
Yoga Studio offers more than 24 hours of high quality HD videos and includes almost 300 poses
Another app full of video content, Cody is like a complete fitness video library. Actually, it’s more like a fitness video shop, since you have to pay for the content. (The app download is free.) There are video packages, each one priced at around $30-$50 USD, and bundles, which consist of several packages at a discounted price. You can choose from yoga, strength training, flexibility, and more.
The videos are professional quality, and your access to them, once purchased, will never expire. There’s also a solid Cody community to help you stay motivated. This is fairly good mobile option if you like to exercise using videos; it’s simply a more contemporary version of buying workout DVDs.
It’s definitely a bit pricier than the other apps mentioned here, but if watching videos is what helps to keep you fit, Cody is a great option.
Overall Fitness Apps
Exercise is important, but fitness is more than just exercise. It involves eating right, staying active, keeping motivated, and having a calm and focused mind. If you’re looking for an app that will do more than simply keep track of your movement, check out one of these.
8. My Fitness Pal
This totally free app (and corresponding web tool) is a combination calorie counter, food journal, and weight management system.
My Fitness Pal keeps track of how much you consume, and the more you use it, the easier it becomes to log meals, as it remembers your past entries. You can even add your own recipes so that the app can determine and count calories. The app also logs exercise, so you can keep track of calories burned versus calories consumed.
There’s a social component to keep you motivated and in touch with your likeminded friends; it also has message boards, which is something a lot of fitness apps don’t offer. Plus, My Fitness Pal syncs with lots of other apps, systems, and devices, including Fitbit, Jawbone, Map My Fitness (described below), HealthKit, and so many more.
Map My FitnessAnother free app and web tool, Map My Fitness was acquired by Under Armour about a year and a half ago. It’s an advanced exercise tracker plus food journal all in one, giving you a complete picture of your fitness and overall health. The app uses your phone’s GPS for outdoor activities and accurate distance tracking, and there’s an active social community as well.
For under £20 per year, you can upgrade to an MVP subscription. this will give you access to features like training plans, cadence analysis, live tracking, mobile coaching, advanced heart rate analytics, and more. If you’re serious about your fitness but want an alternative to a pricey GPS sports watch or wearable,the Map My Fitness MVP subscription may be well worth its price.
My Fitness Pal syncs with lots of other apps, systems, and devices.
Pact is a fitness app that forces you to put your money where your mouth is. Err, or where your muscle is, since if you don’t meet the fitness schedule you commit to, you’ll pay for it — literally. Meet your commitments, on the other hand, and you’ll earn a bit of cash.
If money is a big motivator for you, this app may be the best thing that’s ever happened to your personal fitness
Here’s how it works: Pact tracks your activity, and you’ll need to log your food, especially your fruits and veg. For proof, the app relies on your smartphone’s GPS plus photos you upload (like, of you chowing down on some broccoli).
Pact syncs with Fitness Pal (described above), and the app’s website claims that its users are 92% successful in meeting their goals. The download is free; you pay only if you’re slacking.
Billing itself as “Modern mindfulness wherever you are,” Buddhify2 is an app for meditation on the go. No, it’s not exercise or calorie counting, but a sound mind leads to a sound body, as the old thinking goes. Think of Buddhify2 as an app for mental fitness.
What’s cool about this app is that you can meditate anywhere: when you’re riding the train to work, walking down the street, or even working online. There are over 80 guided meditation exercises designed by experts, and there’s also a timer if you want to go it alone without the app’s audio guidance.
After each session, you rate things like your relaxation and concentration, and you’ll get a visual readout to see how you’re progressing mentally.
Buddhify2 is available for both iOS and Android, and it runs £1.99.
Fitness: There’s an App for That
If you’re not so keen on wearing or owning yet another piece of gear, you’ll probably want to consider a fitness app. There are lots to choose from, and just about all of them cost less than even the most affordable wearable.
Plus, you’ll never have to remember to clip on or charge up your digital fitness companion; you’ll have it with you any time you’ve got your smartphone. And, let’s face it, for most of us, that’s all the time.