Download Your Way to a Healthier Life

The top three fitness apps to help you lose weight 

By: Sarah Manning

Snow banks, dark mornings, and cold temperatures do not make ideal conditions for getting up early and working out. At this point in the year, New Year’s resolutions are long forgotten and beach season seems like it will never arrive. How do you jump-start your fitness routine right now, to be ready for when the snow finally stops falling? Along the Danforth, there are several options to stay fit: Goodlife Fitness (635 Danforth Ave.), The Pilates Process (456 Danforth Ave.), Frog’s Gym (909 Pape Ave.), and Kick This Kickboxing (397 Danforth Ave.).

Any of these places will help you reach your fitness goals. But what if you use these places and the services they offer in combination with the constant companion in all other aspects of your life: your smartphone? You can use a smartphone to do just about anything: pay your bills, check into flights, pay for coffee, and stay in touch. There are apps for just about anything you can think of, but are there apps that can help you lead a healthier lifestyle?

For an app to really work, it needs to have a few essential elements. The app needs to be easy to use, it needs to have a lot of information, it needs to motivate you, and ultimately it needs to be free.

To get you started, I’ve tested some of the most popular free fitness apps to see how they fair in these categories.

Nike+ Running by Nike Inc.

This app is mainly used to record your runs and keep track of your progress. The app can be synced with other Nike+ equipment or it can be used as a standalone device.

USABILITY: It is easy to use as long as you already know what you’re doing. This app is great for tracking your running times and distances, and enables you to share the information seamlessly across social media platforms.

INFORMATIVE: There is not a lot of information provided in this app about how to set up a safe training program for yourself if you’re just getting started.

MOTIVATION: The app talks to you occasionally throughout your run, but only at infrequent intervals. This does little to keep you moving while running, but the tracking of your progression does well to keep you motivated over the long term.

FREE: Yes!

Couch to 5k and Couch to 10K by Zen Labs

This app is a 14-week program designed to get couch potatoes off the couch and onto their feet. The program is designed to increase strength and stamina by alternating between walking and running.

USABILITY: This app is easy to navigate—all the settings, options, and functions are available on the home screen. Your running program is already designed down to the minute, three times a week for over three months.

INFORMATIVE: The guesswork of setting up a running program is removed, but there is little information on other exercises or lifestyle changes to improve your health.

MOTIVATION: At regular intervals throughout your run, the app will notify the user of their progress, and let them know whether they should be running, jogging, or walking.

FREE: Yes!

Cross Trainer by Gain Fitness

This app is a digital trainer that creates personal workouts based on your fitness goals, your location, and what muscles you want to focus on.

USABILITY: It is a little complicated to navigate, as there are a lot of different features and options hidden throughout the app that new users might miss. Overall it provides the user with a comprehensive and usable workout plan.

INFORMATIVE: The app gives detailed instructions and videos of all applicable exercises and provides the user with an ideal workout schedule.

MOTIVATION: It sends reminders before your scheduled workouts to keep you on track.

FREE: Initially yes, but there are expansion packs and more advanced exercises that require the user to pay.

All in all, these three apps each have respective benefits and complications; which one you choose depends on your fitness style. Whether you are a dedicated runner or gym-goer, or are just starting out with a health routine, step your game up and try one of these apps to monitor your progress and motivate you.

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