The Valley Girl reviews her favorite apps and gadgets to get in shape this summer!
Gain Fitness http://gainfitness.com/
The skinny: While we’ve cherished our love/hate relationships with personal trainers in the past, we’ve been loving the fact that we can carry free personal trainers around in our pockets. The Gain team has sought out experts for their favorite exercises and tips, putting them into one app for you to rock the workout room, hotel room, or any room.
Why it’s fab: Workouts are customized based on your fitness level, goals, and time constraints. Their tracking tool gives you the satisfaction of knowing you’re on your way to chiseled abs and buns of steel, even when you can’t see the results in the mirror yet. Find every kind of workout from bodybuilding to yoga routines, and read the trainer tips if you’re not sure how the praying mantis pose is supposed to look.
Price: Free; upgrade to Premium Packs for $5-$10.
Vally Girl verdict: There’s enough variety in the app’s workouts and enough available YouTube videos you can search separately that paying for an upgrade might only be worth it if Jillian Michaels is your spirit animal.
The skinny: In the Silicon Valley, packs of cyclists on the road are about as common as taxi cabs in NYC. While there aren’t as many cycling apps as running apps, cyclists rejoice -- in the case of Cyclemeter, quality beats quantity.
Why it’s fab: It tracks, maps, records, and compiles all of your rides and data into beautiful graphs. Plus, Cyclemeter isn’t only limited to biking. It can track loads of other activities, too. Leave your Garmin at home, because this is one app we’d love to ride away with.
Price: Free; upgrade to Elite $4.99.
Valley Girl verdict: If you’ve already spent hundreds on the bike and spandex shorts, the five bucks you’ll spend here is more than worth the splurge for what you’ll get out of it.
The skinny: How many times have you just wanted to ask your doctor a question, embarrassing or otherwise, without having to schedule a full fledged appointment? “I’ll find the answer online myself,” you say. One sniffle and three clicks later, the internet tells you that your common cold is actually a cancerous tumor superinfection. With HealthTap, get all of your medical mysteries answered by an actual human doctor, no waiting room required.
Why it’s fab: Explore their free database, or for a small fee, ask a doctor you trust any specific private question you may have, and your M.D. will answer you right away in 150 characters (or longer for an extra nominal fee). HealthTap is the affordable, accessible health clinic of the future.
Price: Free to search their database; $.99 per specific question.
Valley Girl verdict: According to HealthTap, 1/4 of all doctors visits are informational Q&A sessions. While a dollar per question might seem like a lot, when you consider that the average co-pay is $29 and that waiting for an appointment slot to open up can take days, we’ll definitely give HealthTap a shot the next time we need an expert opinion.
The skinny: Of course we know that gimmicky fad diets and cleanses aren’t the healthiest way to lose weight, and that we usually end up gaining all of the lost weight back, and then some. If only the proven calorie-counting method wasn’t so arduous! MyFitnessPal has solved that problem.
Why it’s fab: The best way to lose weight is by simply tracking the foods you eat. MyFitnessPal lets you track your foods, calories, and nutritional value easily with their website and app, making weight loss not only possible, but simple. They also have the largest food database of any iPhone calorie counter.
Valley Girl verdict: Between their website syncing, barcode scanner, and recipe calorie calculator, we’ve run out of excuses to skip a day of tracking. Between this and drinking green slime, we’ll take this diet-free weight loss approach any day!
The skinny: RunKeeper is the simplest way to improve and track your fitness whether it’s your first 5k, biking to work, or training for Ironman.
Why it’s fab: While there are many, many GPS running apps, RunKeeper is our pick because in addition to calculating your standard running pace, cycling speed, route distance, elevation and calorie burn, this app gives you the option to follow pre-planned routes. You’ll know exactly how far you’re going to run beforehand, while being able to mix up the familiar mundane paths. Plus, it syncs with MyFitnessPal and hundreds of other health and fitness apps and devices.
Valley Girl verdict: Working out isn’t fun when it’s boring. We love the pre-planned route option that changes our daily routine, and that it syncs with our new activity tracking bracelets.
The skinny: While activity tracking bracelets are all the rage right now, and while we do love our Jawbones and Fitbits, there is an easier, free option that won’t clash with our outfits.
Why it’s fab: Because we feel naked without our phones, Moves makes tracking your fitness foolproof because the app runs in the background of your phone, calculating everything from steps taken to calories burned, showing your daily activity in a simple, stylishly designed storyline.
Valley Girl verdict: While we love knowing how many calories we’ve burned after vacuuming the living room, one small drawback we have to consider is that GPS apps can drain battery life, like, a lot. The creators did address this by designing Moves to use GPS sensors sparingly, and by including a Battery Saving Mode. If you have a battery boosting phone case, this could be the app for you!
Ubersense Coach http://www.ubersense.com/
The skinny: Ever wish you could compare your golf swing with Tiger’s? Or your tennis serve with Maria’s? Ubersense Coach is the ultimate free private coach. Simply film your motions with the in-app HD camera, and then play it back in slow motion with their drawing tools.
Why it’s fab: The analysis doesn’t stop there -- you can then compare your form side-by-side with videos of professional athletes, and even get expert feedback from instructors or watch their drills.
Price: Free; upgrade with Pro Packs from $4.99-$29.99.
Valley Girl verdict: While the Tennis Pro Pack might be worth the frappuccino price if we’re feeling particularly technical, we’re not sure that dishing out thirty big ones to also break down our bowling form would be the best way to spend our paychecks. Also, unless you have a phone or tablet stand, using this app is most likely going to be a two-person activity. Just be sure to steer clear from your local little league dads for awhile after introducing this app to them.
LG Lifeband Touch (On sale May 18) http://www.lg.com/us/fitness-activity-trackers/lg-FR74-heart-rate-monitor
The skinny: For anyone who has ever used a chest strap heart rate monitor, you know how inconvenient and uncomfortable they are to wear, especially when wearing a sports bra isn’t optional for some of us. LG’s brand-spankin’-new heart rate monitor device doesn’t need to be worn around your chest, as a watch, or in the handles of your cardio equipment. This newfangled invention monitors your heart rate using the thing we would never go to the gym without: Ear buds.
Why it’s fab: The HRM Earphone Heart Rate Monitor continuously monitors a full range of data including distance, calories, steps, 3-axis accelerometer direction, all without sacrificing music quality. The earphones are connected to a lightweight medallion device that serves as the data processing hub, sending real-time info via Bluetooth to the free LG Fitness app on your phone.
Price: $179.99; free app download.
Valley Girl verdict: Heart rate monitors range from $17-$200. You pay for the increased capability of the device to compute everything from calories burned to the quality of your workout. In the case of these LG buds, you are also paying for the innovative reading method, as well as comfort and ease of use. While we have loved our chest band/watch combos because they were the best technology available, we will happily toss our sweaty, smelly bands in the bin once these go on sale. Watch out, Polar. The future is now.