This is it, people — this is the year your New Year’s resolution to get fit really takes hold. This year, you’re going to stick it, and we’re going to show you how.
If you’ve got an iPhone, you’re off to a flying start; the little device has been embraced heartily by the fitness world as a bit of a miracle tool, doing everything from recording how may calories you eat, to keeping you in the right heart-rate zone, to coaching you with app-generated workouts.
But that’s just the beginning. There are already a whole heap of fitness gadgets that interact with iDevices — some of which we’ll be taking a close look at throught the week — with more arriving at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas a week from now (in fact, iDevice fitness is going to be a big highlight at CES this year and we’ll be previewing what to expect later this week).
We’ll kick off our Fitness Special with the essentials: To help get you started on the road to wellness, we’ve lined up five of the best fitness apps the App Store can muster.
There’s no shortage of decent free cycling apps, so for $5, Cyclemeter had better be pretty damn good. It is; in fact, we think it’s the best stand-alone cycling app out there. The app’s crazy-deep feature set gives you everything you could want, and then some: mapped GPS tracks, auto-stop, a customizable readout, a calendar view, save-able routes, voice announcements, any sort of graph you could want, all sorts of workouts (and not just for bicycle-based activities) and a bunch of sharing and export options. To top it all off, it’s compatible with Wahoo’s ANT+ Fisica dongle, which make it able to read a wide range of heart-rate monitors, cadence, and other sensors. I could go on and on about all the features stuffed into this ridiculously comprehensive app, but there wouldn’t be room for anything else; about the only thing missing is a good topo map. If you’re any sort of cyclist, buy this app.
If you’re on foot, one of the best apps out there is RunKeeper, the popular fitness-tracking service‘s own app; and lucky for you, it’s free. There’s a lot to like about this app besides its uncluttered interface. It’s got recordable tracks, lap timers, voice announcements, a pace graph and even a button to snap geotoagged photos. Of course, everything can be saved to RunKeeper.com for storage and analysis. And like Cyclemeter, it’s compatible with the Wahoo Fisica dongle for recording heart-rate.
Kinetic GPS is now a buck, down from the $3 it started out at when it launched. Kinetic has two great things going for it: it’s really beautiful, and it’s really, really flexible. The interface is hands-down the prettiest of any navigation app (and maybe vies for prettiest interface of any sort of app). But it’s also highly customizable, making it great for users with different activities in mind than running or cycling. The app takes a modular approach, and you can mix-and-match modules to create the perfect interface for hiking, mountain biking, walking, or whatever. Even the voice announcements can be customized to deliver just the right amount of info at the intervals you want. And it doesn’t skimp on the bells & whistles either: Wahoo Fisica dongle integration, training profiles and lots of export and sharing features (including integration with Dailymile) are all there.
GAIN Fitness is the kind of app that makes the iPhone look like magic. It takes the place of your personal trainer by creating custom workouts based on info you enter like age, gender, how long you want the workout to last, what your goals are and what equipment (eg dumbells) you have lying around. The app will then craft a strength-training or aerobic workout personalized for you. It’s really amazing, and deserves to be checked out — which is pretty easy to do since the app is free. There’re also performance graphs and RunKeeper integration.
Of course, exercise is only half the equation — in order to lose weight, you need to cut back on those calories. That’s where the free MyFitnessPal app comes in. Search for the food you’re eating in MyFitnessPal’s huge database, select the number of servings you’re munching on and the app will record how many calories you’ve just eaten (as well as display other nutritional info about the food); then enter workouts and it’ll track net caloric loss/gain and graph and diary the whole thing. The diary function is particularly useful for going back and trying to pinpoint problems you might be having with a particular food. There’s also built-in social integration and sharing for support to help keep you on track.