For those of us who are a little out of shape, the path to fitness can be difficult, discouraging and frustrating to say the least. I am pretty sure that I have been down that same path to fitness a gazillion times. For one reason or another, I stray from a fit lifestyle and revert to my couch potato mode where I prefer Netflix marathons, breakfast burritos and sofa time rather than hitting the gym and eating healthy.
Over the last few years, I have discovered some great fitness tools that have helped me to stay on track with my fitness goals. These websites and free or inexpensive apps help to establish fitness goals and routines, track food and calorie intake, and help to keep us accountable.
MyFitnessPal is available as both a website and an app that is available on virtually every operating system. I use MyFitnessPal for a few of its functions. The app allows me to easily track the food I consume each day. They have established a comprehensive database, which has cataloged virtually every food imaginable, including those from dine in and take out restaurants alike. It also allows you to input your own recipes to calculate and store nutritional value.
MyFitnessPal also helps you to (roughly) calculate the number of calories that you burn during your daily workouts. You can then compare your calorie input to your calorie output to make sure that you are burning more than you consume! Finally, this website/app allows you to connect with others in the MyFitnessPal community.
There are a number of forums and discussion boards where you can exchange ideas, find recipes or simply commiserate with others. This is definitely one of my most frequently used fitness tools.
I love, love, love this app. I have always wanted to be a runner, but I have always struggled to run more than five minutes at a time without becoming exhausted, frustrated and defeated. 5K Runner is a program that guides you through training to run a 5K in only eight weeks.
Based on the program, you run three days a week. Each day, your run increases in length. At the end of eight weeks, you will ideally be running 3.1 miles in about thirty-five minutes. The app gives you verbal cues as to when it is time to warm up, run, walk and cool down.
Now, I must admit that it took my much longer than eight weeks to complete the program. In fact, it took me about four months. For me, however, the fact that I can run a 5K is nothing short of a miracle.
The 5K Runner app comes in two versions. The free version provides you with music and verbal cues. The paid version, which is $2.99, allows you to use your own music. I am very picky when it comes to my music, so I opted for the paid version. It has been well worth it. ClearSky Apps offers a number of similar apps to prepare you for a 10K, a marathon, etc. Check them out.
My fiancé recently introduced me to Runtastic, a great app and accompanying website, that helps you track your running statistics. This app allows you to track mileage, average pace, average speed, maximum speed, elevation change and calories burned. Even better, you can connect Runtastic to MyFitnessPal, so that your exercise data is automatically transferred. I recently ran the Cherry Creek Sneak 5K in Denver, and I used my Runtastic app. I loved hearing the app’s “voice” tell me that I had reached one mile, then two miles, etc. For me, that was a huge motivator, and definitely helped me finish strong.
I am the type of person who has to have a plan when I am going to the gym to lift weights. Admittedly, I don’t feel incredibly confident when selecting exercises and designing a routine. I worry that I am not going to get a balanced workout, or that I am missing a major muscle group, or that I am going to make a total fool out of myself. Ahhhhhhh!
But then I discovered ExRx.net. This website is an awesome resource. It provides workout “templates” which you can customize with exercises of your choice. I like this because there are just some exercises and machines that I am more comfortable with. They also offer many options for each muscle group, which comes in handy when your favorite machine is unavailable, or when there are no benches available.
Exrx.net offers demonstration videos for every single exercise found on their site. This is really great when you want to try something new, or if you want to make sure you are performing an exercise correctly. This is one of my favorite fitness tools. One that I rely on heavily.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the exercise apps and sites out there. This doesn’t even cover the many I have tried. These four tools are my favorite, tried and true apps and websites that I use on a weekly, if not daily basis. I highly recommend you try my four favorite fitness tools for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.