With summer now on the way, many of us want to get in better shape whether we’re a mom, dad, or grad. Here are five of the best Android apps for helping you to get fit for the season, either by toning and sculpting those muscles or just slimming down. Whether you’re an exercise newbie, a daily cyclist or runner, or someone who’s already deeply familiar with the equipment at the local gym, there’s an Android app on the list for you.
Workout Trainer, by Skimble Inc
While it doesn’t have as many features as some of the alternatives, this app is a good starter choice for people who aren’t knowledgeable about the best ways to exercise, making it an “on ramp” for getting in shape.
More or less exactly as it says on the label, Workout Trainer is intended as a kind of pocket personal trainer.
It presents you with details of various exercises, including videos of how to perform them and audio instructions for use during your actual exercises.
This app also emphasizes methods of working out that don’t require any exercise equipment.
So it can be very useful to anyone who doesn’t have either equipment lying around the house or a gym membership handy.
You can choose your goals from among a number of different categories — for instance, strengthening and toning your arms — and the app will provide you a list of workouts and schedules to choose from, ranging from casual to intensive.
Zombies, Run!, by Six to Start
Although it’s pricey compared to most Android apps, you might end up finding Zombies, Run! to be worth the money. This app can definitely spice up your workout with a lot of fun.
ZR is actually half fitness app and half game. It’s mainly designed to supplement a walking or running workout with audio soundbytes (a full 300 megs worth of them) providing a storyline around survival after a mythical zombie apocalypse.
The app boasts of enough content to cover 40 workouts (even long ones). In between the audio clips, you’re treated to your pre-chosen playlist of songs. When you’re not working out, you manage your “home base” by rationing out the “supplies” that you’ve picked up on your runs and planning how to defend against zombie attacks.
Previously, the biggest weakness of Zombies, Run! was it’s functional dependence on walking or running. You could set the pace to walk, jog, or sprint, but the app wouldn’t work unless you actually did that (with the cooperation of the weather, of course).
This left people working out at the gym or on home exercise equipment out of the loop.
Fortunately, the most recent update introduces an “accelerometer mode” which lets the app try to track your movements using the bouncing of your steps. It doesn’t always work ideally (and won’t work at all if your device isn’t in a pocket where it can feel you movements). But it’s a nice gesture for all of those treadmill users out there!
MyTracks, by Google
MyTracks is designed to follow your current location by GPS as you do an outdoor workout, recording things like your speed, distance, the elevation, and so forth.
MyTracks isn’t as tightly focused as, say, Zombies, Run! It allows you broader leeway around how you want to exercise. It does a good job of dealing with not just walking or jogging, but also other outdoor activities like biking and hiking.
You can save your tracks, share them online, or review them later.
The app even boasts support for Bluetooth-connected heart rate monitors, so that you can record your workout more fully.
While it’s a fairly simple app, that’s not actually a bad thing if you don’t really need a ton of extra features.
There’s no denying it, Fitness Buddy is an extensive although pretty advanced app.
The developer’s own description on Google Play refers to the app as a potential tool for personal trainers. So that should give you some idea of the level of depth involved.
Its database offers hundreds of exercises that you can browse by the specific muscles you’re trying to target. You can also sort the database in terms of what kinds of exercises you can do with the exercise equipment you have on hand. Videos are included which show you how to perfom the exercises.
The app can also give you specific exercise routines to follow, chosen either by your goal or the available equipment.
The free version of the app boasts instructions for 300 exercises, whereas the $3.99 paid version covers more than 1700 exercises, accommodating even the most demanding of workout tastes.
But with all of the muscle-specific info that you can obtain, Fitness Buddy definitely poses a bit of a learning curve. So you’d best know what you’re doing with your exercise routines before you get into this app.
JEFIT Pro – Workout & Fitness, by Jefit Inc.
Geared to people who want to do strength training and bodybuilding, JEFIT Pro offers a huge database of more than 1300 individual exercises, plus a wide variety of features aimed at helping you through your workouts and tracking your progress.
You can sync your exercise to your online profile. You can also record your repetitions, view graphical charts for tracking body and workout stats, and set timers for how long to rest between workouts, for example.
Unfortunately, however, the big emphasis on strength training doesn’t make it the greatest app for purposes like casual workouts, weight loss, and cardio.
If you’re a would be Mr. Universe with a smartphone, you should definitely download this app. Otherwise, you’re probably better off with one of the other alternatives.
So what’s the best fitness app for you? The answer depends on your level of expertise, as well as on whether your preferences lean toward exercising at home, hitting the gym, or running, walking, or cycling in the great outdoors. The bottom line, though, is that good fitness apps are out there for just about everyone.
If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, there’s a fitness app for you, too. Check out our roundup of health and fitness apps for iOS on Brighthand’s sister site, TabletPCReview.
Looking for more technology gift ideas for moms, dads or grads? Go to our MDG Special Report Buyer’s Guide for top picks and articles from across our sites!