At our personal training studio, we’ve encouraged tech-savvy clients to use fitness apps of their choice for a couple of years now. Over the last few months, we have begun to systemize the use of fitness apps within our business to add value for clients.
The different apps on the market seem to emphasize workouts or nutrition, but not both. Because of our business model and our own strengths in fitness program design, we feel that for most of our clients, nutrition-focused apps have the greatest benefit. Although there are strengths and weaknesses to each app, MyFitnessPal has been the app of choice for our clientele.
Our client support manager reviews our clients’ MyFitnessPal dietary journals and makes suggestions to the clients. Further, the client support manager keeps each trainer up-to-date as to whether clients are completing their daily food journals, what clients are doing well with and what they are struggling with.
We are currently formalizing the use and recommendation of MyFitnessPal as a focal point for a Summer Shape-Up Challenge. Clients are very excited about the challenge and about our new emphasis on using technology and apps to get even better results.
Doug Jackson, MEd, CSCS Owner, Personal Fitness Advantage Plantation, Florida
I like the Men’s Health application because it contains a good database of exercises that are selected and described by CSCS-credentialed specialists. It makes it easy for me to build programs for clients who want to self-administer a workout when traveling.
I like the way the swipe function works. Basically, you can view each exercise demo by swiping upward to see the exercise from the start position to the end position, with photos and descriptive text. You swipe left to move to the next exercise in the program. A progress bar at the bottom of each screen indicates how many exercises are in the preset program you are viewing.
Delf Enriquez, CSCS ACSM Health/Fitness Specialist Studio City, California
My favorite smartphone app—which I use and recommend to all of my clients—is MyFitnessPal.
Not only can you input your workouts, but you can add in everything you eat to ensure you are getting the right number of calories per day. This app has options for scanning a barcode from a food label, looking up a specific food from a restaurant or manually entering food details. You can also connect with friends for support and more via the app.
Jessica Frank, MS, CPT, PES, NASE ChicagoFitMiss Glenview, Illinois
I like my clients to use a food journal. While I prefer a paper journal, many people like the smartphone apps. I ask clients to log everything they eat and to share this information with me so we can review it each week. Often people eat something they think is good for them, but it really isn’t.
I encourage clients to use the healthy-recipe app that is available through SparkPeople®. I particularly like the app’s ability to add foods to “my favorites.” I encourage clients to get into an eating “routine.” If they are eating five times a day, for example, two of these times are snacks. They can easily add recurring snacks to their favorites. The healthy-recipe app is a great companion to the diet and nutrition tracker. I advise clients to pack healthy lunches and snacks and prepare their own meals. The recipe app is easy to use, and the recipes are simple to follow. You can search by food type (e.g., chicken or fish) or by course (e.g., appetizers, main dishes and sides).
Allyson Shumate AllyFitness Hermitage, Tennessee
A couple of fitness apps that I recommend to my clients who are trying to lose weight are Lose It! and MyFitnessPal. Both are excellent diet and activity trackers that help clients keep track of calories-in versus calories-out. Since clients can access these trackers any time and don’t have to look up calorie counts later, they are much more aware of what is going into their bodies (especially if they log their food as they eat it). Even better, both apps come with bar code scanners and with social features that allow friends to provide support and encouragement. A feature I like is MyFitnessPal’s ability to show a breakdown of the calorie percentages coming from fat, protein and carbohydrates each day or week. Not only can this feature help clients easily see if they’re within guidelines; it can also be used as an educational tool to show what their old diets looked like or how favorite indulgences affect the ratio.
For my runners, I suggest RunKeeper. It lets them use their GPS-enabled phone to track runs and also to program interval workouts. It’s especially helpful for new runners who want the features of a GPS watch without the expense. I love the way it automatically uploads workouts to the RunKeeper website, where clients can track their progress. They can also purchase “Fitness Classes” in the app, which are preset programs to help users lose weight or train for a new race distance. The app supports Facebook integration, so friends can encourage clients and keep them accountable.
I also like both P90X® and Daily Yoga apps for helping clients work out on their own. They can use the P90X app to track their progress with the program’s DVDs, or they can purchase audio workout guides for their phones. The app can help clients stick with their programs even if they’re traveling, as long as they pack their resistance bands or have access to a hotel gym. The Daily Yoga app, on the other hand, contains yoga workouts of varying lengths to help clients develop a home practice. I strongly recommend regular yoga to develop and maintain core strength, flexibility and mental focus, and this is a great way to help people get started if they’ve never done yoga before. The shortest workout is only 20 minutes long, so it doesn’t take much time to squeeze it into a busy day.
Dawn Dolobowsky, CSCS Personal Trainer, Running at Dawn Coaching Seattle, Washington
I don’t use many phone apps for fitness, but there is one thing I use and swear by on my phone: Twitter™! Social media, if used intentionally, can be a great help to people who are trying to lose weight and stay motivated to keep active. I personally turn to Twitter when I have questions about using new, healthy ingredients like kale, or I want ideas for making different smoothies. My friends on Twitter also help motivate me when I’m not feeling like moving; if I post about not wanting to go for a run, I get instant tweets encouraging me to remember that I’ll feel better if I go! It’s a great tool for providing fitness inspiration, workout ideas, accountability, and links to expand your fitness knowledge. My clients who use Twitter are also encouraged to stay engaged in a supportive fitness community, to keep moving and to eat healthy food.
Bonnie Lang Bonnie Lang Fitness Calgary, Alberta