When Should I Hand My Workout Over to a Fitness App?

Let’s just say I haven’t been doing so great on my own

The integration of mobile apps into the world of fitness has given rise to an era in which everyone has access to just about every shred of workout and nutrition information that’s ever existed — both correct and incorrect. Likewise, this information is doled out by an endless parade of nutritionists and trainers eager to avail you of their expertise for a fee, or for free provided they can sell your data and attention to advertisers. 

This model for monetizing both the expertise and ignorance of training has resulted in the availability of more than 37,000 health and fitness apps of various kinds. There are so many, in fact, that it would take you more than 100 years to sample all of them if you tried a new one every day.

Of course, how many of them are actually beneficial to you is a totally different matter.

I’ve been wondering about this. Do I need a workout app?

Self-awareness is critical here, because first and foremost, you need to be aware of your own personal shortcomings, fully understand how they may be hindering your fitness progress and how the features of a specific workout app might rectify them.

I’m here, aren’t I? So I’m definitely not deluding myself. What, though, are some of the things I should be looking for more generally?

Honestly, I’d start with an app that has nutritional features, because they can help make sure you’re getting the food you need in the correct ratios to capitalize on the work you’re doing in the gym and effectuate the most physical improvements. 

Even if you’re a master at meeting all of your macros and micros, you may suffer from a lack of self-awareness when it comes to accounting for all of your eating and drinking decisions throughout the day. So, again, an app equipped with software that enables you to account for every morsel that wanders into your mouth can help you understand why you haven’t been able to lose weight on an 1,800-calorie-per-day diet… because it was actually 2,800 daily calories as your mid-day snacking was overlooked during all of that macro and micro counting.

That’s helpful, but what about the actual workouts?

Straight out of the gate, you may know the physical improvement you want to make, but have no idea which exercises will get you there. Many workout apps will have a catalog of exercises with visual demonstrations of each. If you don’t know how to properly lift weights, or you’re growing bored with doing the same workout routine ad nauseum, these apps will provide a constant resupply of training suggestions that are cued up and ready to go.

They’re also typically great at tracking your progress on each exercise, including weight totals lifted, reps completed, the number of sets undertaken and the amount of rest you take between sets. In aggregate, this lets you closely gauge your progress, analyze how your performance has improved over time and decide if anything in your workout needs adjusting.

Moreover, if community is your thing, most fitness apps commonly grant you the ability to monitor the workouts of others and socialize with them, essentially crafting a private social network of like-minded people. Maybe you like the competitive aspect this brings — whether you appreciate the nudge of camaraderie or friendly competition — or maybe you just find power in numbers. Either way, it’s among the few times in life when peer pressure is a positive, not a negative.

Obviously, fitness apps aren’t for everyone. Perhaps you can log everything away in your own brain — counting calories, ensuring nutrient adherence, assembling a full-body collection of body-strengthening exercises — all while remaining perfectly motivated. If this is the case, by all means please continue your comparative dominance over the rest of us mere mortals. 

But if not, you know what they like to say these days: There’s an app for that


Ian Douglass

Ian Douglass is a volunteer firefighter, lackadaisical Concept2 rower and SkiErger and is the worst masters swimming All-American in recorded history. He also helps professional wrestlers publish their autobiographies, assists businesspeople with the writing of coherent thoughts and has overhyped degrees from Michigan and Northwestern.

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