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Getting in shape one app at a time part two

first_imgA few weeks ago I wrote about challenging myself to lose enough weight to fit into my suit for graduation day. Graduation is still a couple of weeks away, but I thought I’d give an update along with mini reviews of the apps I’ve been using over the past few weeks, including one new app I was introduced to after starting this experiment.EndomondoEndomondo was the very first run tracking app I tried, and I found it very hard to move on and try others as it had everything I needed. It has a great, clean user interface with clear indicators showing information like duration and distance, and there’s also a map view so you can see your run being plotted in real-time. You can choose to have a ‘basic workout’ in which you just run and Endomondo tracks you, or you can set a goal, attempt to beat a friend’s personal best, or follow a route. There’s also a couple of extra workouts that are unlocked in the pro version: beat yourself and interval training.After you’ve completed your workout you can share on Facebook or just sync with the Endomondo website. Syncing to the website is great. I had to wipe my phone at one point and when I signed back in to the app all my previous workouts appeared in the history tab again. You can tap on any one of these to see them in greater detail including lap information and a map view. Selecting Music whilst running was as easy as tapping the music icon and the Play Music app opens up. This was by far the best as some other apps don’t seem to support Play Music playlists.As I was writing this I noticed that Endomondo has been updated in the Google Play store with a whole new UI. It’s now ICS optimized and looks amazing. It actually makes me want to go back to using it again rather than moving on to the next app to try, and I really think this is the one I’ll be using after this losing weight goal is over.There’s something to be said for a really nice user interface. An app can have all the functionality in the world, but if it doesn’t look nice and isn’t easy to use then not many people are going to stick with it.Adidas miCoachI was really looking forward to trying miCoach due to a big sports name like Adidas being involved, but I ended up being hugely disappointed. The app requires much more security than is entirely necessary, including a 4 digit pin every time you open it up as well as an 8 character password requiring at least one digit be entered when you first sign up or log in.The app has plenty of features alongside the simple tracking of your runs, although they can be quite overwhelming for a new casual user and would be more suited for the hardcore runners out there. Setting music up to play through the app didn’t work unless you had it actually stored on your phone. Even making a playlist available offline didn’t allow it to be used. This was fixed by simply playing it straight from the Play Music app so it wasn’t that big of a deal.One feature I quite liked was being able to choose a sports personality to give you coaching whilst running a pre-planned workout. With such personalities as former world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis and this year’s Wimbledon finalist Andy Murray, it can really give you a boost when you’re starting to flag. The only complaint I have with this feature is that in a free workout you only hear the voice at the end telling you “well done.” It would be nice to have some encouraging phrases played in specific scenarios, such as when your pace starts to fall off.Runtastic push-up proRuntastic is a new app I discovered when the company saw what I was doing, tweeted me, and suggested I add this to the line-up. This app claims to get you performing 50 consecutive push ups in 24 training days and I absolutely love it. The app schedules what days you should be training on, which is roughly every other day, and gives you the number of push ups in each set and a timer for resting between sets. The really cool part is it counts how many you do by either using the proximity sensor or you touch the screen with your nose on the way down.The app gives you overall stats for when you decide to try and set a record on days-off training, or training plan stats that are visualized as a bar chart of number of push ups performed on each training day. This is great as you can see the progress you’re making. Overall it’s nice to take the thinking out of working out and just have the app tell you when to come back, how many repetitions to perform, and how long to rest between sets.I have a couple of gripes with the app, though. I began on the free version, but what I didn’t realize is that after 4 training days you need to buy the pro version to carry on. This wouldn’t have bothered me too much, but there is no way to transfer data between the free and the pro version. Sure, you can set the training plan to start from training day 5, but you won’t be able to see stats on the previous days anymore which is slightly annoying and could be easily remedied.The other annoyance was that out of nowhere the training seemed to get too difficult, I was completely fine completing the sets leading up to training day 5 and then suddenly my muscles were failing me just a few sets in. In the end I decided to go back to training day 1 and begin again, this way I would have all my stats back.MyFitnessPalMyFitnessPal is absolutely great for tracking your calorie intake and has one of the biggest databases for nutritional information on food I’ve seen. This is helped in part by users being able to add their own entries into the database and MyFitnessPal will tell you how many times it has been used as a form of indicator for correctness.The app even takes your starting weight, your goal weight, and the time you want to achieve it in, and tells you how many calories you need to be taking in per day to achieve your goal. It also takes your measurements (weight, neck, waist, and hips) to provide graphs of your progress over the past 3 months. The app itself isn’t exactly the most intuitive to use but once you learn your way around it the functionality is great.There’s one other thing I have to say about this app, and it’s not the apps fault, more human nature’s. If you have a bad day calorie intake wise, say you’re fed up of eating healthily and order take out, then you’re very unlikely to log it and so end up with an incorrect view on your progress.Accurate Body Fat Calculator & BMI CalculatorThere’s not much to say about these two apps. They do exactly what they say on the tin. You enter the information it requests and it gives you the value along with the category (normal, overweight etc.). The UI for BMI Calculator is much nicer than ABFC calculator and is ICS optimized, which is a nice touch. BMI calculator also lets you change the unit of input for each of the fields, which is handy whereas ABFC is very basic in both looks and functionality.Body statsWeight: 213.8 lbs (97KG)Waist: 39 inchesChest: 41.7 inchesNeck: 15.5 inchesBody fat: 25.3%BMI: 29Looking at the stats from the first part of this experiment I’ve made gains in all areas except my neck, which is hugely disappointing. I honestly thought I’d lose a little as I’ve been eating healthier and exercising more than I was while at University, aside from a couple of slips. I also felt myself getting fitter with my runs becoming faster and easier with recovery times being less. The part I found the hardest was finding the motivation for going out and running, as well as running more than 2km a session due to joint pain, which I’ve always suffered from even when I was fitter.I’m hoping that Zombies! Run! will help with the motivation aspect as adding a game element could make it more enjoyable. I’m also thinking of adding some Kinect fitness games into the mix. While not strictly apps, they’re a more unconventional form of exercise.With graduation just under 2 weeks away it looks unlikely that I’ll fit back in my suit and I’ll need to come up with a backup plan. But even after this little experiment is finished I’ll be carrying on and attempting to get back to the shape I was in before starting University, even if that means shelling out for a gym membership.I’ll write a final part to this app experiment in a couple of weeks where I’ll cover the remaining apps I used.last_img read more