There’s no replacement for the variety of equipment and workout types you’ll get at a gym, but with the right mobile apps for your Android device and the discipline to use them, you can get a great workout from anywhere.
How to Use Your Pocket Gym
Not everyone has the time to go or the money to spend on a gym membership. While an empty room and your Android phone are clearly no replacement for a fully furnished gym, you can still get a great workout with these mobile apps to help you exercise regularly, track your performance and goals, and to push you in the right direction.
For example, a number of general fitness apps will start you off with some baseline stats about your weight and your weight loss and health goals and then help you work towards them, offering encouragement along the way. Since no exercise routine has you doing the same thing day after day, you can switch it up by using different apps each day to build a complete exercise regimen.
General Fitness Tracking
- FitSync (Free/$4.64)
Normal gym memberships usually don’t come with a personal trainer that can keep you motivated and switch up your exercise regimen on a regular basis – you’ll have to pay more for that. On your phone however, all you need is an app like FitSync to keep track of your workout progress suggest new exercises for you every day, and give you both a mobile and a web interface you can use to see how far you’ve come.
Think of FitSync as the heart of your Android gym. The app lets you log your workouts on your phone, set up a workout schedule to adhere to, download new exercise programs that will work for you, and even challenge friends to meet your fitness goals. The premium version of FitSync adds some weight and body stat tracking, gives you real-time charts you can view while exercising, and more. Both versions connect with FitSync.com (in fact, the reason the Android app looks like an iPhone app is because the app skins a browser and connect to FitSync’s mobile-optimised site) to provide robust reporting and history on your exercise regimen.
- General Cardio – CardioTrainer (Free/$9.36)
Cardio is one of – if not the – most important part of a regular exercise regimen. It’s when you really get your heart rate up and start burning the calories. CardioTrainer for Android can help you get there faster and keep your heart rate elevated longer with integrated voice prompts and spoken feedback on the progress of your workout, and a workout schedule with reminders of when you should do your cardio workouts. CardioTrainer also has GPS support for those of you who run or walk, a pedometer, and a calorie counter to help you estimate how many calories you’ve burned so far. The app also supports the Polar Wearlink+ Bluetooth transmitter and heart monitor to record or give you immediate feedback on your progress. The pro version gives you access to all future workout modules from the developer, and interval training, which lets you break up your workout into high and low-impact sessions.
- Running/Walking/Cycling – Endomondo (Free/$4.18)
Endomondo is one of the most popular and well-reviewed fitness apps in the Android market, and for good reason. Whether you’re walking, running, or an avid biker, the app will track your position, time, distance along your route, and your speed via GPS, and provide the information to you in real time. Endomondo also keeps an eye on how many calories you’ve burned during your outing, and lets you see your route on a map so you can see how far you have left to go.
Like CardioTrainer, Endomondo supports the Polar Wearlink+ transmitter, but it also supports the Zephyr heart rate monitor and the ANT+ Bike Speed and Cadence sensors. Endomondo gives you audio feedback with every mile you progress, and even lets you challenge and share your workout progress with friends on Facebook. As your friends cheer you on, Endomondo will pass their encouragement through to you. If you’re competitive, you can see shared routes from other users, and try to beat their time. It’s free, but the pro version lets you challenge your own best times or set a specific time while the audio coach encourages you to beat it. We know you may prefer RunKeeper, and we love it too, but Endomondo is a strong alternative worth checking out.
- Yoga – Pocket Yoga ($2.80)
Whether you’re a beginner or experienced at Yoga, Pocket Yoga is the go-to Android app to help you practice, see new poses and exercises that you may not already know, and to keep track of the exercises you’ve already done. The app gives you three different practices, three different difficulty levels, and three different durations, for a total of 27 lessons before you start repeating exercises.
Each exercise is accompanied by animations, voice tutorials and guides. The audio instructor will even help you with your breathing. If you get lost, you can stop and review the dictionary of poses to study how a given position is supposed to look before going back to the guided exercises. Pocket Yoga also lets you play your own music during your workout, and keeps track of your performance so you can review it later.
Weights and Targeted Muscle Area
- Weight/Strength Training – JEFIT (Free/$4.18)
The icon for JEFIT is a beefed up Android, and that’s no accident: the developers promise that it’s a professional-level bodybuilding and weight training app, right on your Android phone. The app syncs with the JEFIT web service, and allows you to create a personal workout profile, select a pre-built workout regimen, or build one of your own from hundreds of strength training exercises available in the app. JEFIT will also keep track of your activities and your progress, and lets you slowly ramp up the difficulty of your strength training so you challenge yourself with each workout. The app synchronises with your account on the web automatically, helps you craft daily strength training exercises that you can do quickly even on off days, and in case you want to show off, the app lets you build a photo gallery so the world can see your progress. The pro version removes ads, adds progress bars and additional weight and body mass tracking, logging and reporting over time, and a challenge mode that urges you to beat your own prior performance.
- Abs – Daily Ab Workout (Free/$0.93)
Daily Ab Workout is just one in a number of “Daily” workout apps that are available for iOS and Android. The Daily Ab Workout however focuses directly on daily exercises that you can do to smooth your stomach. The app gives you quick, five-minute daily abdominal exercises that can be chained together into longer workouts.
The exercises are demonstrated in animations by a certified professional trainer, and you can see how many repetitions you have left to do on your screen while you exercise. The pro version includes additional workouts and removes ads.
- Push-Ups – Drop and Give Me Twenty! (Free)
If you’re thinking of taking the hundred push-up challenge, Drop and Give Me Twenty! (DGMT!) for Android can help you go reach your goal. Fire up the app and slide the phone beneath you, and DGMT! will register a successful push up either when your nose touches the screen, or by proximity sensor (if your phone has one.) You can toggle between the two.
DGMT! also keeps track of your overall progress, and will urge you to do more push-ups than you did the day before. You can set the difficulty level and give yourself a timer in which to complete the day’s assigned push-ups, or you can let the app make a suggestion and you do as many as you can stand. Either way, DGMT! is one of the most highly recommended push-up apps on the Android store, and it works very well.
- Circuit Training – C25K ($2.80)
Running a marathon isn’t something that only a select few people can do in their lives. The Couch to 5K program was designed to take sedentary people and give them a direct training path towards being able to run a 5K, and the Android app follows the plan closely. The app will start you off walking for short periods, and then begin to add light jogging to your workout. Over time, you’ll build up to running, and the app will alternate between periods of walking and running to make sure you don’t tire out. C25K schedules three workout days per week, and each workout session is between a half-hour to 45 minutes long. You can listen to your own music while you walk or run, and the app will give you audio cues when you should switch between walking and running. It also features an app journal so you can track your progress towards being ready for a full 5K run. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, another $2.80 will get you the “Ease into 10K” app, and $1.86 will get you “Bridge into 10K”, if you want a faster approach.
- All in One – PocketTrainer ($5.61)
PocketTrainer doesn’t have quite the same features that all in one apps like FitSync has, but what it lacks in features it makes up for in motivation and ease of use. PocketTrainer comes loaded with high-quality workout and motivational videos to give you a complete workout regimen that you can perform just by following along with your digital trainer.
Simply select Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced, and you’ll get the kind of coaching you would normally have to go to a gym to experience from a personal trainer. Each exercise is accompanied by an instructional video and a written how-to. The overall regimen includes cardio, strength training and endurance training.
- P90x – 90Droid ($3.27)
If you’re planning to take up the P90 workout routine, 90Droid is your must have mobile workout tracker. The app was designed by P90 grads, and it shows: the app gives you a simple way to track your progress, enter the workouts that you did on a given day (and keep you honest with which part of the program you should be doing,) and lets you review your feedback with dozens of charts to show how hard you’ve been working different parts of your body.
The app also lets you back up your progress, start over any time you want, and share your charts and progress on Facebook, Gymga, or post them to Picasa for the world to see.
- CrossFit – Crossfit Travel ($1.86)
CrossFit Travel is designed to give busy travellers a way to keep up with their workouts when they’re away from home, but it turned into one of the best and most highly rated CrossFit apps in the Android Market. It has its drawbacks (it relies heavily on data connectivity) but it still sports over 120 CrossFit workouts that you can do anywhere every single day. Plus, all of the workouts assume you’re in a location without CrossFit equipment – if you have it at your disposal, even better.
The app lets you filter exercises based on the type of activity you’d like to do, whether you’d rather run, do a timed workout, or just go through them one by one. CrossFit Travel even has a built-in timer that lets you save your performance, review graphs of it later, and share your workouts on Facebook or Twitter.
If you’re like me and you’re the type to look at your phone as soon as you wake up in the morning to check in on friends or see what happened in the world while you slept, being just as able to fire up a workout app and do some quick exercises on the floor of your bedroom or living room with your phone keeping time for you is a beautiful thing.
Since so many of the fitness apps have their own reporting, time tracking, and web components to help you keep up on your progress, it’s incredibly easy to see how your workouts grow and change over time. For me, I found myself pushing a little harder each time I used the apps, and the results were clear on the graphs as I logged my workouts, or set the timer a little longer each time. Still, even with all of the tracking and reporting tools, the best apps were the ones that allowed you to switch up your regimen regularly, do different exercises each day, and try new activities periodically.
An Android phone and a handful of apps may not equate a full-fledged gym membership, but if you have the discipline to stick to a workout program that’s designed to help you achieve your health and fitness goals, these apps can definitely help, whether you exercise at home or take up running or cycling.
- Circuit Training – C25K ($2.80)
- General Cardio – CardioTrainer (Free/$9.36)