Stuck inside? Rainy day? Snowy day? Too damn cold to get outside? Don’t have much time? Have a baby or toddler who needs your attention all day long and you’ve only got a few minutes free? Inexperienced and too embarrassed to be seen at a gym? Need to work on other goals other than staying fit? Want to turn a positive action into a habit? Whatever the case, there are ways to help you stay fit and get out some energy while indoors. Do you try getting exercise DVDs and then leave them sitting on the shelf unused, or even unopened? If you have a smart phone there are a plethora of options to choose from for fitness and other self improvement needs, but which apps do you choose? Which ones will you really use? Which ones help you stay motivated and focused?
Although most apps will guarantee results – in order to properly use a lot of them you’ll need a LOT of motivation. Some apps will simply list a number of different workouts, like “Here, try these.” But how are words on a page really going to help you exercise? Lists have never been the best motivators. Not to mention, if you’re not an exercise expert and you have no idea what most of the different exercises are called, you’ll spend most of your time looking up what the hell they’re talking about when they tell you to do the upper level core over head twist stretch, or whatever nonsense they list. I personally haven’t memorized the names of every exercise or stretch there is out there, and I don’t feel like seeing the names of them will make me want to do anything. Eh, pass.
Other apps will even give you images of different exercises (though a lot of them are still simply in list form, a list of exercises you can click on one by one). However, the issue with still images is that it’ll have two or three of them (sometimes only 1, whatthefuck?) and you’ll be sitting there cocking your head to the side wondering how in the world they made it from image 1 to image 2. Is stopping every couple minutes to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing really helpful? Is that going to keep you fit and motivated? No, you’re going to eventually decide that this app is too much work and forget about it or uninstall it and continue on without an exercise routine to get you moving.
As far as apps for things other than exercise – there aren’t many, at least any decent ones. Some you can make lists, or even set reminders, but they’re pretty dry and dull. How do you form a habit? A good habit? Not a sit around and procrastinate habit. There are some apps that make you feel like you’re doing a lot by adding in lots of markers and other random activities. But by the time you’re done clicking buttons and sharing what you’ve supposedly done, you realize you haven’t actually accomplished anything. Wow, that was helpful. (Rolls eyes)
Lastly, a lot of apps – exercise, or otherwise – advertise how they’re free! WOO-HOO! But wait, not really. As soon as you install, and maybe even sign up, you find out you can’t do anything on the app (besides create a profile and maybe look around) without upgrading and paying for “premium” services. Excuse me, but, what were the basic features? What a scam – not down.
As far as exercise apps go, I’ve found two that are actually worth downloading. I highly recommend them both. One is Sworkit! My favorite! Despite the funny name, this app is actually super great. Though there is a premium version you can pay monthly or yearly for (where you can get a customized workout plan, and attain access to more content), you can use this app for free. And there is a decent selection of things on the free version. I currently have the free version, as I don’t have much time to workout (new baby and all). However, if I wanted to spent a lot of time working out, and took it a bit more seriously, I probably would pay for the premium version. If you’ve got the time and money – it seems worth it.
Another app I find worth looking into is Runkeeper. It isn’t super fancy, but it can keep track of any number of things (not just running). There are two ways to track your exercise (by time, or with GPS). You can also add exercises in later that you may have done while either away from your phone, or when simply forgetting to use the app. This app also tracks your progress. Again, you can pay for a premium version that involves tailor-made plans. These are really only worth it if you’re actually training for something, like a 5k, 10k, or marathon. Otherwise, the free app is really all you could need or want. Obviously this app isn’t necessarily for indoor use (though potentially it could be), but it can be used for short periods of time if you don’t have much time to spend on exercise.
If you’re looking for apps for self improvement in areas other than exercise then I’ve got a couple I think you’ll probably like. One is called Fabulous – it helps you develop habits and form routines, while sending you motivational mail throughout your journey. This app can also go to the next level for a price, though I’ve never seen the need to get any additional help from this one. The other app I recommend, though it may not be something most of you are looking for, is Clean House. And yes, ha, it is for chores. It isn’t a super amazing app, but it does help you keep track of all the cleaning (or other chores) you need to get done on a regular basis – and remind you, so you don’t forget. Perhaps you don’t have as big of an issue with remembering to clean as I do, though. I’d love to blame my absentmindedness on the kids, but really it’s my own problem. Cleaning just isn’t fun – I tend to keep the idea of it at the very, very back of my mind; hiding and disguising it like a traumatic experience that my brain tries desperately to forget in order to protect me. Ha, cleaning sucks.
By the way, all of these apps can be used without internet connection. Don’t even get me started on how annoying it is to find the perfect app that suddenly has no use whatsoever as soon as you lose signal.
What is offered for free? There are 4 main categories on this app – Strength, Cardio, Yoga, and Stretching. On the free version you have 4 options under each category. If you click on one of the options it will show you every exercise or stretch it has for that option (You can also create your own workout). Once you select a workout you get to choose how long you want the workout to be – choosing any amount of time from 1 minute to 1 hour. And then comes the genius of the app!
During each workout session it shows you an actual person doing the exercise, so you can see exactly how to get into and out of every position, or how to move through each exercise smoothly. There are also count downs and next exercise announcements (that you can turn off if you choose to). And at the end of each routine it shows you how many calories you’ve lost during the workout. WOO! Now that is motivation. Not to mention that you can check your stats whenever you want. It lists your average exercise duration, total sessions, workout time, calories burned, what routines you’ve completed, and whether you’ve received any medals (5 minutes for a bronze, 15 minutes for a silver, and 30+ minutes for a gold) – all information listed for today’s workout, the entire week as a whole, as well as everything added together from the first workout you completed on the app. It also has various charts to show you comparisons. Everything on this app is designed to keep you focused and motivated.
You can also setup reminders for working out, input your weight for the calorie tracking, add personal workout goals (which can be seen on the comparison charts to see if you’re meeting your goals), connect other apps (Google Fit and MyFitnessPal), and view an entire list of all the exercises (with video demonstrations for each one).
Besides the 4 main exercise categories on this app, there are a few other workout routines they provide (also for free). They’ve got a set titled “Getting Started Series,” which has 6 routines to get you to start moving. These are especially great if you’re a beginner. There is another free routine under Advanced Workouts, if you’re looking for something more challenging. And currently, they are offering a free January Challenge (which I am partaking in). They post a new routine for every day of January – the challenge is to complete them all (doing 1 new routine every day). If you miss a day, though, don’t worry. The challenge routines stay posted all January.
What I love about this app is that you can have audio stats, and music, going during your workout. Though the music has to come from music already on your device. You can also put in your target pace, work towards a number of different challenges, select a specific workout (i.e. 20 Minute Easy Workout, Run/Walk/Run, Short Bursts, 2 Miles with Rest, Ramp Up & Taper, etc.), as well as select your activity type from a long list (including things like Running, Walking, Cycling, Hiking, Swimming, Mountain Biking, Downhill Skiing, and many more).
To track your progress you can check the “Me” tab where it lists your achievements, and compares this week to last week (for things like how many miles you ran, your average pace, how many activities you completed, how many calories you’ve burned, elevation you’ve climbed, and time spent). It also notes your all time total. You can set goals on this app, as well. And it’s social friendly – do exercises and/or challenges with your friends. Even create a running group (no matter if your friends are near or far, you can all run together).
Overall, this app has a nice sleek look and contains a huge amount of information. Its general use is simple and easy to figure out. And it’s a great way to track the exercises that aren’t so stationary. Competing with friends is a big motivator too.
Fabulous is one of those apps that can either be extremely helpful, or extremely irritating. It just depends on how you use it, and whether you actually need it or want it. It looks nice. It allows you to set morning, afternoon, and evening routines (which it titles “rituals”). However, when you start off it will have an idea of how it thinks you can best improve. It will help you slowly add one action in at a time. Repeating it daily until it becomes a habit. Of course, if you find no reason to add in their actions or go on the path they have chosen for you, then you can always put in actions of your own choosing. Be careful here, though, not to overwhelm yourself. No matter what you think… their recommendation of adding in one action at a time is honestly the best idea. Habits wont form if you’re scattered over trying to add too much into your schedule at one time.
This app has the option of turning on or off the reminders for each ritual (which you choose the timing for). If you decide not to use it for whatever reason, or are taking a break, remember to turn off the reminders – otherwise they will drive you crazy. But if you are really working hard at trying to create a permanent habit in your life, the reminders are extremely helpful.
An added bonus to this app is the “Make Me Fabulous” button, where you can find activities to help you relax, stay focused on work, or get some rest. There are 8 options under this button: Exercise, Power Nap, Focused Work, Meditation, Yoga, Stretch, Get Inspired, and Breathe. Some of the above options only have 1 routine to choose, others have multiple to pick from. Personally, I don’t like the yoga or stretching on this app (and much rather prefer to use the Sworkit app for those things), but I have found the meditation, breathe, and focused work options as helpful in calming myself down and helping to keep myself focused for a specified duration of time.
The last thing about this app is that it will send you mail periodically. Information about forming habits, encouragement, challenges, etc. These, again, can either be extremely helpful or extremely annoying. However, it is easy to simply ignore them (or delete them) if you don’t find them helpful.
This app is super simple, but helpful (if you’re anything like me). It has a list of chores you can choose from, or you can create your own. All you do is put in a chore, decide what the starting date for this chore is, and decide how often you want to repeat it (i.e. everyday, every 2 days, every 3 days, etc. or do not repeat), and then you’re set. The app will remind you to do your chores! You can change what time of day it reminds you, as well. Also, when you look on the app you can view a list of all your chores or see your To Do list for today (and tomorrow). Like I said, simple. However, it can be extremely effective if you’re needing that sort of reminding in order to get things done around your home. And, potentially, you could add whatever you wanted to this list (not just chores) if you’re needing reminders of other repeated activities or events.
Some people may think using an app for self improvement is kind of odd. But why? People nowadays keep their cell phones (and/or other electronic devices, such as tablets) closer to them than anything else. If you’ve got something that is always on hand, why not take advantage of it for some personal good?
I’ve always got my phone on me. I’m a mom – I need to be able to get notified by call or text of anything important going on (especially things having to do with my children). I keep my cell phone on me for safety, and for convenience. I think using it for self improvement is smart. Just one more benefit of owning a cell phone.
These are my 4 personal recommendations for apps. I’m sure there are other useful ones out there as well. However, I’ve tried quite a few apps looking to find the ones that work the best for me. I’m not easily motivated, and these apps have seemed to keep my attention – which is key. Try them out for yourself. I guarantee they will be better than most of what is out there on the app “market”. If you’re serious about getting/staying fit, improving your habits, or keeping things clean (ha), you will definitely benefit from these apps.
Good luck in your self improvement endeavors! If you try out these apps, let me know how they work for you.