Ditch the gym: Best smartphone exercise apps reviewed
20 Aug 2012
How your smartphone can save you costly gym fees, by providing a full home workout
It’s not surprising that gym membership numbers have exploded since a recent well-publicised sporting event hit London. However, we can’t all afford extortionate monthly fees to get those fabulous pecs we’ve always dreamed of – and thanks to your trusty smartphone, you won’t have to. We've sweated to review the following fitness/exercise apps, which you can download to get a full workout right in your front room for free.
Steel Abs (iOS, Android) – 69p for iOS, free for Android
This tongue-in-cheek fitness app claims to give you rock-hard abs after just 42 days, using six simple exercises. The exercises themselves are basic stomach crunches, but it’s worth grabbing this app as it gives you a training schedule and keeps track of your progress.
Your mentor is a solid Russian by the name of Ivan, perfectly cast as a mental meathead who gets all the ladies thanks to his bulging six-pack. Each day he welcomes you with a typically macho comment, then completes the exercises with you to keep your pace up. Animations are basic but do the job. We’ve been training for almost two weeks now and our previously pudgy belly is already feel firmer, although the difficulty level does ramp up significantly beyond the first week as you’re forced to exercise for longer.
The app itself is colourfully presented with a Russian theme, but some kind of voice work would have helped with the presentation. We also found the app froze or crashed occasionally. Still, for anyone looking to tone up their abs, Steel Abs is a great (and cheap) way to get in shape.
Workout Trainer (iOS, Android) – Free
Simply input your fitness goals – such as building muscle or losing weight – and Workout Trainer will do the rest. The lite version gives you access to dozens of quality workouts, each with photo and voice instructions, or stump up for the paid version and you’ll be treated to full cheesy videos. Each workout lasts anywhere from a few minutes to well over an hour, and features a good mix of exercises including squats, shadow boxing and other delights. Most workouts can be done almost anywhere, with only a handful requiring extra equipment. You can save and share workouts, and set up a schedule to keep you active.
If you’re serious about your exercise, Workout Trainer can recommend a full fitness plan for £6.99 that targets your objectives and schedules workouts for the coming month. The cheese factor is quite high, but it adds to the app’s charm and keeps things from getting dull. Windows Phone users should check out FitLife620, which does much the same for just a couple of quid.
iMuscle (iOS) - £1.49
Fitness app iMuscle is a great way of building up specific muscle groups. Load it up and you’re immediately presented with a picture of a skinless male torso. Sounds like some sort of hideous torture app, but the aim is to zoom in on the area you want to refine, and follow the list of relevant exercises. Each exercise is accompanied by a brief animation to keep you straight, along with advice so you don’t knacker yourself. Some exercises involve equipment such as weights, while others are basic stretches and lunges.
Navigation is generally intuitive but some of the buttons and tabs are a little tiny, making them tricky to press. Zooming in and out of the 3D muscle model is rather jerky too. Still, you get some good extra features such as the ability to set up a workout routine, so you never forget which exercises you’re meant to be doing.