Mobile Apps for Your Clients

Recommending and using mobile apps with your fitness clients can boost their overall experience of health and fitness.

By Fred Hoffman, MEd
Sep 24, 2014

Mobile apps for nutrition, weight loss and fitness put health management into the palms of your clients’ hands, so clients will probably ask you to help them pick the best apps for enabling results. If you plan to recommend good fitness apps to your clients or class participants—or if you already do—you’ll want to consider user-friendliness and whether certain clients will actually use the apps you suggest.

While many apps are “one-offs” that focus on a single aspect of health and fitness, some newer ones on the market integrate with other apps to gather a variety of health and fitness information. For example, the free Nudge app for Apple and Android is a “healthy-lifestyle hub” that syncs data from other apps and calculates a numerical score to rate how healthy your lifestyle is. Earlier this year, Apple announced its Health app, capable of collecting and storing data (e.g., heart rate, calories burned, activity tracking) from multiple health and fitness apps all in one place.

Trying out free apps can be fun, but when money and smartphone storage space are on the line, choosing the right downloads for your clients becomes an important and strategic decision. And if you plan to integrate these apps into clients’ workout programs and nutrition plans, app quality will be just as important for you.

Here are mobile health and fitness apps that you might like to recommend or use with clients to help them achieve results and enhance their experience.

Walking and Running

Use these apps to help your clients navigate and maximize their walking or running routes, progress and performance.

WalkJogRun

WalkJogRun says on iTunes it has “the most accurate iPhone GPS.” Clients can follow recommended routes for their area or create their own. The app includes dog-friendly walks, training plans and goal setting, along with pace coaching, which tells clients when to slow down or speed up based on goals they create on the app (Apple; $1.99).

Charity Miles

Charity Miles inspires users to earn money for charities by logging activity miles: The app donates 25 cents per walking/running mile or 10 cents per cycling mile to a charity the client chooses within the app. Options include Feeding America®, ASPCA® and Stand Up to Cancer®, among others (Apple, Android; free).

Home and Travel Workouts

Consider these apps to help your clients stay active between training sessions and “live” classes—and to glean new ideas for your own workouts and teaching.

FitnessGlo®

With its clean design and user-friendly platform, FitnessGlo (like its sister app, YogaGlo®) offers guided, on-demand video workouts that clients can follow, preferably from an iPad or other tablet. Workouts come in a variety of formats, with different equipment choices and workout lengths, and you don’t need Internet to play the ones you’ve previously stored in the app. FitnessGlo instructors are high quality— many of them present at IDEA fitness conferences (Apple, Android; app is free, but you need to pay a monthly subscription to access and store the workouts to mobile).

POPSUGAR Active

POPSUGAR Active includes video workouts, articles and the ability to schedule workouts in a simple, easy-to-navigate format (Apple, Android; free).

Nutrition and Weight Loss

Help your clients get a handle on good nutrition habits with these useful apps.

Fooducate

Fooducate grades food products based on nutrition facts and ingredients, scans barcodes to display nutritional details and suggests healthy alternatives. Users can receive daily nutrition and health tips, search the app’s extensive database, and track food intake, exercise and weight loss progress (Apple, Android; free plus paid in-app upgrades).

Pact

Pact lets people earn cash for healthy living. Users commit to a weekly goal for exercise, nutrition and fruit-and-vegetable intake; then they set out to “prove” they’re doing it. For example, they send snapshots of the fruits and vegetables they eat to other app users. Clients earn a small monetary reward when they follow through on weekly goals (30 cents to $5 per week, says Pact’s website). If they don’t meet their intended goals, however, they pay a small stake (the average is $5–$10 per missed activity, according to a representative for the app, but there’s lenience for unexpected illness and injury).

Pact integrates with other fitness apps, including RunKeeper, Fitbit®, Jawbone™ Up®, MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal and more. This might be a good choice for clients who spend a lot of time on mobile and either steadfastly stick to their goals (and want to earn extra cash for their efforts) or could use an extra push to do so (Apple, Android; free).

Client Communication

Send clients quick words of encouragement, fit tips or session/class updates right to their mobile devices.

WhatsApp Messenger

Recently purchased by Facebook, this app allows users to send text-style messages without having to pay for SMS texting charges—and because it works on many platforms (see below), it will accommodate most of your clients with smartphones.

As long as you have your phone’s Wi-Fi or data turned on, you can send and receive text, video, photo and even audio messages via WhatsApp Messenger at no charge. There’s also the ability to create groups, so you can send the same message to multiple clients at once (Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows, Nokia S40, Symbian; free. Note if you try to use it over your cellphone network rather than via Wi-Fi, you could rack up data charges).

Viber

Viber lets you send text, photo and video messages and call your clients anywhere in the world—for free. They must have Viber, too, for the call to be free; or you can call non-Viber mobiles and landlines for a low rate with Viber Out. Viber automatically detects which of your contacts has the app (Apple, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Bada, Nokia and desktop; free).

Did You Miss Part 1?

See Part 1 of this column for fitness, business and social media apps that can elevate your professional offerings.

Different Apps For Different Clients

When choosing the best apps to recommend or use with a range of clients and class participants, consider quizzing them on their preferences and habits for mobile technology.

Gadget Factor

Apps that interface with wearable fitness devices—like the ones from Fitbit or Samsung—are hotter than ever. But not all clients have a desire to fiddle with, or wear, technology. A client’s interest in tech gadgetry may affect how readily he or she adheres to using health and fitness trackers. Cost may also be a factor.

Bells And Whistles

You might think that lots of bells and whistles—with diverse features and functions—offer high value and excitement. However, some clients may prefer something simpler. Or vice versa: A streamlined app that appeals to you might feel too bare-bones for some.

Budget

Some cool apps are free. Others cost a few bucks and might offer additional in-app purchases that are worth the price tag. Beware of those that skimp on content but require you to keep paying for content at every turn—for example, each new exercise costs another 99 cents to view.

Platform

Don’t forget to ask clients which mobile devices they own. Some apps work best on tablets like an iPad. Health and fitness apps are most common for iPhones and Android and less available for Windows and Blackberry.

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Fred Hoffman, MEd

Fred Hoffman, MEd, holds a master's degree in health education and is the director of international services for the Club & Spa Synergy Group. A consultant and master trainer for companies such as Reebok&#174, Body Bar&#174, BOSU&#174, Beamfit&#8482 and GlidingÔäó, he has traveled to nearly 50 countries on six continents to present at conventions and conduct instructor training. A published author and advisory board member, Fred is the recipient of the 2007 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year award, and in 2001 was elected to the International Who's Who of Professionals. Certifications: ACE and ACSM Education provider for: ACE

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