Thursday, February 02, 2012

#HEALTH: "10 Best Fitness Apps Revealed"

Want to get fit? Of course, there’s an app for that. An expert in fitness training video courses picks the 10 best apps for exercise and nutrition from among the thousands of offerings.

When Hollywood starlets and fitness professionals want to make a video--from "Jane Fonda's Workout" to "Billy Blanks' BootCamp"--they go to Watch It Now TV Inc., a leader in fitness production with hundreds of celebrity workout DVDs. But founder and certified CrossFit instructor Darren Capik is also an avid user of smartphones. And although he does not produce or promote applications, he believes the technology is a key new ingredient to getting and keeping people interested in staying fit.

"Apps are a fun way to add an element of technology to your workout," said Capik. "We all have smartphones now, but there are thousands of apps available making the choice a bit overwhelming. What I like about all the apps here is that they all have the best thing anyone can look for in an app--simplicity. What you want is to start up, get right on it and work it through--especially someone new to fitness."

SixPack App Pro demonstrates how to do each exercise and what pitfalls to avoid.
Here are Capik's choices of Top 10 Fitness Apps:

1) SixPack App Pro
"Incredibly easy to go in, find the proper way to do each exercise, and get started," said Capik.
A catalog of exercises with and without weights, as well as warmups, stretching and yoga basics to complete your workout and to avoid injuries. Exercise descriptions, tips and common mistakes are organized by body area--chest, legs, arms, et alia--as well as by the type of equipment--dumbell, tubing, medicine ball, et alia. Compete workouts that mix up the exercises are also provided, including special versions for traveling, doing circuits and regimes like alternating push/pull exercises.

2) Calorie Counter by FatSecret
"Adds the element of food that you can make, suggesting recipes along with the basic calorie-counting function," said Capik.
After setting current weight and target weight, the calorie counter lets you do just that--count calories--which it tracks along with exercise (including sleeping which it claims burns about 80 calories an hour). By tallying up your calorie intake and outflow, users can consistently manage their weight, plus it includes recipes to meet specific caloric-intake goals.

3) DailyBurn
"A combination of workout and calories counter--a little tricky to follow, but good for sophisticated users," said Capik.
This application recommends a daily workout to its users based on stated goals and progress made toward them already. A video instructor takes you through each workout, including several alternatives so you can mix it up. It includes elements of a personal trainer with automated tools for tracking your progress over time in greater detail.

4) Nutrition Tips
"Nothing sophisticated about this app--just a collection of great nutrition facts and a great diversion while you're waiting in line somewhere," said Capik.
This application offers a comprehensive set of health and nutrition tips. For instance, buffalo wings are so named because these spicy chicken wings were invented in Buffalo, N.Y. When you find a gem--such as "people who eat breakfast improve their memory"--you can easily post it to Twitter or Facebook.

5) Authentic Yoga with Deepak Chopra
"Yoga is all about mind/body integration, and Deepak Chopra shows how to tap your inner being while doing yoga," said Capik.
This application introduces yoga poses and proper breathing techniques with audio (using Deepak Chopra's legendary voice) as well as video clips showing all the details. Instead of measuring length in minutes--stop-watch style--the number of breaths is designated for each pose and routine sequence, organized by exerience level as well as by common complaints, such as "Yoga for Back Pain." Budding yogis can also organize their own unique routines by selecting from menus to set them up.
For the rest of the list, we’ll discuss fitness applications that integrate cloud-analytics and social media.

6) Nike Training Club
"Best-in-class production, very engaging, great reward system, and is No. 1 in smart marketing the way it ties in the Nike brand," said Capik.

An application for females, it first asks women to set their goals (weight loss, muscle toning, muscle building or muscle-group development). After selecting a workout and reviewing the detailed explanations for how to do each exercise, women then do the workout with an audio instructor and stopwatch style countdown. Local analytics provide graphical representations of progress made so far. The application also provides motivation with rewards of celebrity videos revealing "secrets of the stars." Progress can be synced to the NikeWomen Website as well as auto-posted to Facebook.

7) Lose It!
"What I like most about this app, is that it gives you a running total during the day of where your are calorie-wise," said Capik.

More than just a weight-loss program, Lose It! integrates exercise and nutrition with fuel consumption (food), allowing users to set their ideal weight, then work toward that goal by logging the items they eat and exercises they perform as the day progresses. Organized like a health-meter called "My Day," a graph across the top shows how many calories have been consumed so far, how many are remaining (to match your weight-loss goals and compensates in real time by how much exercise you've gotten). Local analytics measures progress for the day and week, with longer-term trends revealed by syncing with the LoseIt! Website. The site can also provide reminders, regular reports and progress-sharing with your friends on Twitter and Facebook. LoseIt! integrates exercise and nutrition with analytics and social media (right), in a calorie-counter that displays a running total of daily progress.

8) RunKeeper
"This app can really motivate you by tying in its Website, which is very engaging and can keep people interested in working out," said Capik.

A simple and easy-to-use GPS-based exercise tracker that displays a dashboard with time elapsed, calories burned, distance traveled and pace (minutes per mile), all of which is uploaded to RunKeeper's cloud-based servers. The application can be used by runners, bikers, walkers, skiers, snowboarders, rowers and swimmers. An optional heart-rate monitor also tracks cardiovascular performance. After exercising, athletes go to the Website to see a graphical map showing their route with annotations and the way stations that were set by the user as they performed.

9) Pocket Trainer
"Very easy to understand, takes beginner by hand, but has lots of variation to keep you coming back and really helps you learn how with exercises you are not very good at yet," said Capik.

This application is an interactive fitness trainer that guides athletes through workouts that are customized for each individual. Users can set their current fitness level, the types of fitness equipment they have available, after which Pocket Trainer suggests exactly which exercises to do and for how long. After previewing each workout--with written descriptions, video demonstrations and solutions for common problems--the Pocket Trainer steps through the whole workout, as if a personal trainer were there. The application’s workout includes alternate exercises that allow users to mix it up. Pocket Trainer also sends reminders to stick-with-the-program if exercises have not been performed for the last few days.

10) FitnessBuilder
"Very sophisticated and configurable workouts, for men and women, offering the most growth potential of any app," said Capik.

An easy-to-use workout application that starts with textual descriptions and still images, but also includes video demonstrations of workouts, ranging from a 10-minute energy booster to an hour-long total body workout. Sets the pace with stopwatch-like timers, tracks reps per exercise, logs your progress and schedules sessions. Also alerts Twitter and Facebook users as well as integrates with the MapMyFitness Website for more sophisticated analytics.