Every other day a new fitness app seems to hit the market, adding yet another no-excuses tool to establish goals and track progress toward a healthier lifestyle. Research suggests that fitness apps can lead to positive behavioral changes, including upping your overall activity level. Plus, fitness apps that are personalized to the user are proven to be even more motivating.
As we begin updating our fitness routines for fall, we asked two of Chicago’s top trainers for their favorite fitness apps of the moment, whether you’re looking to majorly overhaul your health and fitness or just fine-tune your training plan.
Random Workout Builder
“My current favorite fitness app is Workout Builder,” says Andrea Metcalf, a Chicago-based personal trainer and owner of Lincoln Park’s Hang 5 Fitness Studio. “It helps you build exercise routines even if you’re a rookie to workout planning. I use it as a personal trainer to help my clients find workouts when we’re not together.” Simply specify your workout parameters and the app will help you switch up your routine by suggesting a variety of movements focused on your fitness goals. Video demos showcase proper form.
Free, available on iTunes.
Nike+ Run Club
The Nike+ Run Club app bills itself as the “perfect running partner” and truly proves itself worthy thanks to its three distinct training programs designed by expert coaches: “Get Started,” “Get More Fit,” and “Get Race Ready.” Direct-to-your-ear coaching from experts, including sprint legend Michael Johnson, promise to help pick up your pace. Be sure to give one of the app’s new “guided mindful runs” a try: Nike has partnered with the meditation app Headspace to offer coaching audio tracks that focus on mindfulness rather than performance, making for a more zen running experience.
Free, available on iTunes and Google Play.
Couch to 5K
If you’re ready to make the move from couch potato to fitness fanatic, you’ll want to download this handy training app that promises to help you get on your feet and headed toward accomplishing your goals. Four virtual trainers, each featuring a unique personality, will coach you through a proven 5K training plan, carrying you from “not a runner” status to “5K ready” in just nine weeks. Beginners should plan on walking or running for 30 minutes, three times a week, alongside their virtual coach.
$2.99, available on iTunes or Google Play.
“For my clients that struggle with their diet, I usually recommend MyFitnessPal,” says certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist Nick Perri of First Place Fitness. “It has an extensive food library and several studies show that tracking what you put into your body leads to weight loss success. But it’s not just about counting calories. It’s quality over quantity, and that goes for strength training as well as your weight loss goals.”
Free (with in-app purchases), available at iTunes or Google Play.
If you love yoga, but getting to a class is either next to impossible or out of budget, download the handy Daily Yoga app STAT. You’ll have access to a year filled with more than 100 guided beginner- to master-level yoga and meditation classes streamed directly from your smartphone. The app is also great for anyone looking to master a particular pose — just about every pose imaginable, from downward dog to tree pose, is profiled in-depth in the apps’ “Pose Library.” The latest version even boasts a “Grouping” feature that will allow you to share poses with pals.
Free (with in-app purchases), available on iTunes and Google Play.
Fitbod Weight Lifting Tracker
Setting up a strength-training plan can be tricky for the beginner. Enter the Fitbod Weight Lifting Tracker app, a step-by-step training app that offers videos as well as a workout plan builder personalized to your experience, equipment access, and fitness goals. Log in your exercise types and reps, view a heat map of the muscle groups you’ve been targeting, and follow the instructional videos, then share your workout achievements and stay motivated with kudos and comments.
Free (with in-app purchases), available on iTunes.
More from Make It Better:
- Best of 2018: Fitness & Recreation
- Need Workout Motivation? Try These 12 Expert Tips
- Want to Eat Like a Dietitian? 12 Nutrition Experts Share Their Go-To Healthy Lunches
Amy Bizzarri is a Chicago-based freelance writer focused on food and travel. She has a keen interest in Chicago history and is the author of “111 Places in Chicago That You Must Not Miss” and “Discovering Vintage Chicago.” Amy is also a proud member of [email protected], a movement that works to ensure children around the globe have access to the vaccines they need.