This week in the iPad Series, we’ll look at a few fitness apps to use on your iPad. If this were an iPhone or Android phone article, there would be a lot more options, since you’re probably not going to strap on your iPad while you jog or work out.
The first thing you have to ask yourself is what you hope to accomplish by using your iPad as a tool for health and fitness.
1. Nutrition & Weight Loss – help you keep a food journal or help you make good nutritional choices
2. Workouts – get workout programs for strength training, cardio, and yoga
3. Workout Tracking – record and track your exercise program
Keep in mind that these are apps that I found interesting and/or useful. This is not an exhaustive list. It’s just my humble opinion based on apps I was inspired to test and use for my persona benefit. Consider that my disclaimer!
Nutrition & Weight Loss Apps
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just be healthier, there are two sides of the equation: nutrition and exercise. All of these nutrition and weight loss apps are essentially online accounts that also offer mobile apps to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker (Free)
The Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal HD app is one of the top free iPad Health and Fitness apps out there. As a matter of fact, MyFitnessPal rates as one of Lifehacker’s Five Best Fitness Tracking Websites and Services. Over the past several years, I’ve watched MyFitnessPal.com grow in popularity and I’ve even watched some of my friends jump ship from other programs to this one.
MyFitnessPal has a HUGE database of foods and exercises which reduces the chances that you’ll need to enter items manually. It also offers a barcode scanner for food items and can work while offline. Since I’m not a MyFitnessPal user, I can’t fully appreciate the app.
Ultimately, although I’m a Spark People user, if you’re just starting this process I strongly recommend that you use MyFitnessPal.
SparkPeople Diet & Fitness Tracker ($3.99)
The SparkPeople Diet & Fitness Tracker app is a companion to the SparkPeople.com website. For many, many years this has been the top health and fitness website in the US. I’m not sure if they’re still holding that accolade, but they are definitely a contender. They have a huge database with tons of nutrition, health, and workout articles and videos. The recipe portion of the site is great. I have new favorite meals thanks to them.
Although the website is free and amazing, this app isn’t even good if it were free. DO NOT BUY IT! Just set up a shortcut to the website. One of the biggest reasons I’d want to buy the app is to view my recipes and cook with it. You do have the basic functionality but can’t access your recipes, even if the item is in your tracker. There are some improvements over the old Android and iPhone apps I’ve purchased in the past: you can view and add your groupings separate from your favorites and you can do a text search through those 2 items. But you have full functionality by opening the webpage in your browser. This app is a waste of money.
Weight Watchers Mobile (Free but Subscription required – $19 – $43 a month)
The Weight Watchers app is a great tool to use along with your weightwatchers.com online account. That account will cost you anywhere from $19 (online tools only) to $43 (meetings and online tools) EACH MONTH. Weight Watchers is not cheap, but it does work. They offer sensible plans that you can continue for the rest of your life and the local and online support really helps you through the rough spots.
The app allows you to track your food, your weight, and your activities and it syncs with the online tools. You can also look at Weight Watchers content, such as articles and find a local meeting. The app is a nice tool to use along with your regular online tools if you’re a paying member.
The iPad screen is a great size to watch workout videos or workout routines. I need to preface this section by saying that there are a lot of highly-rated apps such as All In One Yoga 3D, Jillian Michaels Slim Down, Workout Trainer, Fitness Class, and a lot of other “Free Apps” that had ridiculous subscriptions and in-app purchases to be able to properly use them. I really don’t like a bait-and-switch and won’t even look at those apps on principle.
Additionally, while all of the nutritional apps above have online and sometimes in-app workouts you can view, I wanted to look at some apps that are just for getting you through your workout. For these apps I’m picturing someone in their home or office (probably not a cubical) propping up their iPad and getting in a quick workout with little to no equipment.
Daily Workouts Free (Free)
The Daily Workouts Free app is free, but they will try to sell you the Daily Workouts app for $3.99. With that you get more workouts and the ability to customize.
I didn’t like the fact that the workouts are hidden and can’t be customized. You have no idea what you’re doing until the timer starts. You also can’t skip an exercise. I did like the on-screen video, instructions, and timer.
To me, this app wasn’t good enough to make me want to purchase the other version for $3.99.
Fitness Trainer HD ($0.99)
The Fitness Trainer HD app is pretty cool. I’m impressed. When you open the app you can see a nice list of workouts. The best part is that you can even create your own workouts. And if you don’t know what an exercise is, you can view text, audio, images, or video of the exercise.
You can also play your music and even download all exercises and HD content to your iPad so you can use it offline.
Gorilla Workout ($0.99)
Gorilla Workout is a “Personal Trainer” app for exercises using only your own body weight. This app is great to do quick exercises at work or on the go, even if you’re just getting started at home and haven’t purchased any equipment.
The app allows you to select your experience and strength level then has quick workouts already set up for you. You can follow links to get an explanation of each exercise and even see a video. Don’t know what a burpee is? You will soon.
Overall the design is a little childish and this app is very limited compared to Fitness Trainer HD.
Yoga Studio ($2.99)
The Yoga Studio app is a little pricey, but go to their website at yogastudioapp.com to see a sample yoga video and get a feel for the app.
The app and videos are clean and calming. There are hundreds of available poses. The app comes with a good number of preset routines, or classes, and you have the freedom to create your own routines. There’s even a great feature that allows you to schedule your routines into your calendar. One very important feature is that you can download classes so that you can do your yoga even without an internet connection.
The app has a nice tutorial when you start it up. (Things like this are why you pay a few bucks for a professional app!) I give this app a big thumbs up!
Note: I did look over Pocket Yoga after finding Yoga Studio and wasn’t willing to spend the $2.99 for the Pocket Yoga app that was clearly inferior.
As it turns out, the 3 nutritional websites I covered above also offer fitness tracking. I recommend that you check them out.
- MyFitnessPal – You can track both cardio and strength training, including sets, reps, and weight/reps. You can add your own custom exercises, and even enter custom calories burned if you’re using a heart rate monitor or something like a FitBit.
- SparkPeople – The Fitness tracker allows you to track your workouts and calories burned. The animated exercise demonstrations with detailed instructions ensure that you’re using proper form. There are pre-set workouts you can use or you can create your own. You can also enter calories burned and the FitBit tracker information is automatically uploaded if you set it up through your FitBit account. (MyFitnessPal may do this as well – I’m not certain)
- Weight Watchers – I can’t find great information on the “track activity” feature of the app, but you do have that ability.
Some equipment purchases have online accompaniments. I encourage you to check them out.
Fitbit (No app)
I wanted to mention the Fitbit even though there is not yet an iPad app. You can access the fitbit.com website directly in your browser. There is an app for iPhone and Android phone, but it’s lacking a lot of the features of the website.
The Fitbit is an electronic pedometer and accelerometer that tracks your movements in the X, Y, and Z axis. You wear it at night and it tracks your sleep patterns. Wear it during the day to see how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed and how active you’ve been. I’m a little bit on the geeky side (in case you couldn’t tell) and I love seeing all of this data in the amazing graphical format that the Fitbit website uses.
Additionally, the Fitbit integrates with other great sites like Sparkpeople, MyFitnessPal, and over a dozen more partners that you can see on their partners page.
I know – $19.99?? But the iFit app is really, really cool. Let’s assume that you own one of the treadmills that works with the iFit system and you have an online login. You can set up your trusty little iPad on your treadmill and walk through the streets of Paris. Your treadmill will even change the incline to match the terrain.
I almost want to go buy a compatible treadmill just so I can use this app.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, there are a few apps that I will continue to use.
I’m a SparkPeople user but don’t like the app. I just use a shortcut to the webpage in the browser. For my workouts I’ll be using Fitness Trainer HD and Yoga Studio. For my workout tracking, I wear a FitBit and allow the data from the device to be imported into my SparkPeople account.