Digital Workouts

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TCW tries five (free!) popular fitness apps.

RunKeeper
Trial: The app updates you on your pace and distance every five minutes. At the end of the run, it provides a workout summary, including a calories-burnt count and map of your travel path. It also offers workout plans that will help you train for 5Ks, 10Ks, half and full marathons. The downside? RunKeeper relies on GPS , so in places like downtown Chicago, where the GPS signal is weak, it will not give you an accurate pace, distance or calorie count. Verdict: Simple yet useful; ideal for experienced, self-motivated runners

C25K – Couch To 5K
Trial: This app has you complete three workouts a week. One workout lasts 30 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down, and alternates between 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking. As you progress through the weeks, the jogging time increases until you reach a three-mile run. Verdict: Perfect for those who don’t regularly exercise but are motivated to get in shape.

Nike Training Club
Trial: The app lets you choose between weight-loss, toning and strength programs with multiple levels based on how many times you exercise per week. It also offers short, 15-minute workouts that concentrate on target areas. It’s a continuous guided program and doesn’t allow much downtime, but you can pause to see demos if you’re not familiar with an exercise. Verdict: An intense and diverse training app that offers a large library of workouts – a bonus for those easily bored by exercise routines.

GAIN Fitness Cross Trainer
Trial: In addition to gym workout plans, GAIN Fitness offers workouts from home – kitchen counter dips, ottoman push-ups – great exercises that will get you a good workout without the cost of a gym. This app also lets you create a workout plan that will remind you when it’s time to exercise. And if your day is busier than expected, it will conjure up a quick ‘Plan B’ workout. Verdict: The workouts are partially guided – as you progress through exercises, you check a box when you’ve finished each set, and after you’ve completed each exercise it will give you 60-90 seconds of rest. You can also adjust the number of repetitions and log the amount of weight you used.

Fitness Buddy
Trial: It’s essentially a library of exercises for all parts of the body. You can browse through the library and then pick and choose exercises to make your own workout. The free version only lets you create two workouts and it only offers nine built-in workouts, so you’d have to buy the $1.99 version for more. Verdict: The built-in abdominal program is challenging. But it only shows you the list of exercises to complete – it doesn’t guide you through them. This app is best for learning new types of exercises, but not for a full workout.

By Kirsten Keller

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