I recently entered the digital age and got myself
an Android "smart" phone. It has all the bells and whistles, including high-speed mobile web, GPS, speech recognition and Wi-Fi capability. Yeah, it's kinda cool.
Above all that, the coolest thing are the downloadable applications, or "apps," available on the Android market. An app is a tiny piece of software for your smart phone that is usually a miniature version of larger software and programs that we are accustomed to using.
I must have spent my first 24 hours with the phone downloading and playing around with all the free apps available for download.
A lot of the free apps usually have some sort of advertisement system built in, but if you can overlook this, you can find some great apps that can be surprisingly beneficial. I'm going to share with you a few of my favorite free fitness apps that you might find useful.
"Instant Heart Rate" by Modula d.o.o.
This app uses your phone's camera in a similar fashion as a medical pulse oximeter to track the changes on the surface of your skin with every heartbeat. The camera tracks these changes and calculates your heart rate. I'm sure it isn't 100 percent accurate, but in my use, I've found it to be very close. This is a very useful app to have if you want to track your pre- and post-workout heart rate. You can also use it to track your resting heart rate at various points in the day. Nice little app that will get more use than you think.
"Calorie Counter" by FatSecret
This robust food database leaves no stone unturned while providing complete nutritional information on literally thousands of foods. The database is divided into four categories: master food list, restaurant chains, popular brands and store brands.
The app also has built in individual tracking by providing an exercise diary, a food diary, a diet calendar that compiles the data from the exercise and food diaries, and a weight tracker for personal accountability. This can be really helpful in making the right nutrition choices no matter where you are.
"Jefit by Jefit Workout Planner" by Jefit Inc.
This workout planner is like a workout journal on steroids. I can't believe so much functionality was packed into such a tiny little app. The app provides an automatic updating workout journal that can be synchronized to the Jefit website.
There is a deep exercise database included that is categorized on an anatomical chart by muscle groups. You can build your training program using the app's program wizard and schedule your workouts on exact days and times. An optional exercise animation plug-in is a worthy download, as well. Get into the habit of using this, and you almost won't need a trainer - almost.
"Nike BOOM" by Nike
This is a slick app that synchs your mp3 playlist to motivational coaching from popular Nike athletes from your chosen sport. Using it couldn't be simpler. Run the app, select your sport, choose your playlist, program your work intervals, push play, train.
If there is a particular athlete or coach you like more than others, you can save that person as a favorite, and boom will play that athletes coaching more frequently. You can also get encouragement from your Facebook friends during the workout in realtime. This is not a bad little app. My only issues with it are that the athletes volume can occasionally fluctuate and there is no mixed martial arts selection. "BOOM" has an optional paid upgrade, but the free version is just fine.
I'm quickly becoming a smart phone addict, and these are some of the reasons why. There are many, many more free fitness apps that I haven't tried yet, and I can't wait to get at them. Go grab these four, and you will have brought your training into the digital age.
Fitness training just got smarter.
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Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer, and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Visit his website, www.hometeamfitness.net, or find him on Facebook www.facebook.com/hometeamfitness.