Gotta be smarter than your tech

One of the best tools a person can have for getting fit or maintaining fitness is their own body- it tells us when we ate the wrong things, too much/ not enough, worked out too hard, everything we need to know- but a coming in a close second is your smartphone. There are a plethora of great apps that can track food, offer workouts, calculate BMI, even let you in put symptoms and get advice.

Some of my favorites are SparkPeople, Nike Training Club, Complete Yoga Guide, and the Army Fitness Calculator. These are my fab four. I am not saying that these are the be all end all of fitness or nutrition apps there are thousands out there to choose from and new ones popping up every day, but those have worked out pretty well for me and all happen to be free apps.


The SparkPeople app offers just about everything that the full site does, noted exceptions being I can’t search recipes (separate app) and the macro-nutrient tracking isn’t as in depth. I can track my food intake, scan barcodes to add my Luna bars (I heard that they have gone gluten free for all flavors via twitter recently), track exercises, and even water intake and mood. One of the best parts is that the app will sync with the full site so tracking your progress or just tracking trends is easy no matter how you log on.

The desktop site has been a favorite for a long time especially due to the recipes. These are actual recipes that people have tried or tweaked and added to a mass collection that can be searched by meal, dietary restriction, occasion, or main ingredient. My family has gotten to know a few of these pretty well, some well eh isn’t that the draw of Pinterest? Another cool part of this site is the motivation offered by the creators, other members, and coaches; there are forums, blog links, tips, support. I use this app and website all the time whether it be to find low sodium dinners or just make sure I am getting in all of my fruits and veggies.

Nike Training Club

Oh the workouts. There are tons of great workouts that have all been developed by professional trainers. Some of my favorites are Hurricane, Fire Drill, and the Advanced Yoga. There are semi- customizable programs that are geared either for weight loss, toning, or strength. After deciding your goal you pick your level, then it is like having a personal trainer in your pocket. There are videos to explain movements, tracking tools that give allow you to see how far you have come, and the option to post your victories to social media. My very favorite part is that I can run this app in airplane mode, after the initial download and cool updates when a new workout is rolled out network connections are not required.

For me the biggest drawbacks are that once a program is locked in you are set into NTCs calendar and there is not an easy way to create bodyweight only workouts. Maybe I don’t want to work out on Tuesday its pretty and I would rather go for a jog, I can’t rearrange the schedule. Ok so you can by starting the day’s workout and just letting your phone run, then going back on Wednesday and just doing the workout. That just seems like cheating. The only program manipulation I am ok with is when I do a workout a day early. My other drama is the body weight thing. I travel for work and some of the places I wind up just don’t have gym access. No access just means that I have my overnight bag, and one 165 lb. weight.  While most of the workouts that do require equipment only ask for minimal stuff it would be cool to be able to filter for “no equipment”.

Complete Yoga Guide

This is the least slick of my four staples, but don’t let that fool you. This app is good for several common ailments and I enjoy it greatly, maybe because I have some of these complaints. A very static site that doesn’t offer pictures or video (on my Note) but does offer very detailed explanations and an effectively simple menu. On my tablet I get images but only if I am online. Just click on one of the seventeen offered conditions and off you go. Eyestrain, concentration, back pain, these routines have been helpful. This guy doesn’t take up a ton of space either 5.37 MB and after download no internet needed (unless you just need pictures). Have I mentioned that I travel for work? Sometimes I end up in some remote locations where internet is spotty at best. I am always on the lookout for a more comprehensive (and still free or really cheap) yoga app.

Army Fitness Calculator by 550 cord

So this app may seem like it has a limited and specific audience. Yes it kinda does, unless you are tracking how many push-ups or sit-ups you can do in 2 minutes or how quickly you run 2 miles this might not hold a revered place in your phone’s fitness folder. For someone in the Army or planning to join this can be a great tool, the seven options on the main page make tracking or administering an APFT really easy. In addition to being able to check your score, users can look up minimums and maximums, check height and weight, and body fat. After having my last child I used this app to follow my progress, which got me back on track faster than just guestimating.  For those administering an APFT there is a 2 minute timer, a stopwatch, and the entire set of APFT instructions- that can really cut down on the junk you have to haul around.

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