Fitness Apps

Let’s Get Physical!

A lot has changed since I last went to a gym. Above you can see my notebook I used to carry around with me. Anal? Probably, but my progress is my incentive; every last scrap of it. I love seeing improvement so I literally needed to see minute results. It’s a system which has worked for me in the past. But notebooks, really? This is 2017!

So here I am just about to join a gym and try and get a bit healthy. I think there must be a lot of apps out there which are going to help me. So I sat down and had a look. Gasp! There are loads. Healthcare is a boom industry it would seem.

I am a big fan of apps. I like designing them, I like using them. I think if you design them then you should be using them every day. So I basically need an app that can do everything my notebook could.

You’ll see that cost is not a major consideration here, which I know it is for many people, but as a developer side person, I see the enormous effort that goes into making these effortless looking apps and the huge ongoing development time needed to ensure that they stay up to date and answer people’s needs. I see from reviews on the app store that people are often very damning about the introduction of ads, subscription-based fees and in-app purchases, which I too bitch about, but overall, if I feel that an app does exactly what I need, then I am willing to support the cost of its ongoing development. Obviously, if it’s crap after I have paid for it then I’m gutted! That in mind, if I can’t test an app for free then I am reluctant to purchase it when I have no guarantee that it will work for me.

And let us not forget that I have quite specific requirements of what I do and don’t need. I thought I would prioritise it into the five most important ‘needs’ and ‘don’t need’s.


Exercise database
Preferably sorted into body areas with diagrams/written instructions of exercises. I think it’s good practice to go over an exercise just before you execute them and to be honest, I simply forget them.

A calendar
I want to be able to preplan my routines and split my week up into different routines. E.g. Cardio/upper/cardio/lower

Customisable workouts
I really like the system of concentrating on upper and lower parts of the body on different days. I also avoid barbell work as it’s often an area of the gym saturated by guys who are awkward to share with. Once I create a workout plan. I keep it the same for a month, then I change it totally. So I need this to be easy.

Measurement tracking
I need to see results. Weight alone is not enough. I need to see as many metrics as possible. Upward charts, anything positive.

Apple Watch version
I am toying with the idea of some kind of heart rate monitor. I don’t ‘need’ one, so it’s not a done deal, but if I got one then I’d jut go Apple. I need to know they work and that the interface is easy. The watch looks pretty amazing… one day.

Don’t need

GPS tracking
I have a crappy back so I try to keep hard impact activities such as running to squishy surfaces such as treadmills. I might consider a park in the future, but in the past, I have used Map my Run which is perfect for my needs.

Social tools
No one needs to see this. It’s boring. I hate looking at other people’s stats. I don’t want a ‘buddy’.

Calorie Counters
I often just eat the same thing over and over again so once I find my healthy eating plan I don’t really need to enter it in over and over again. And if I d then I just use MyFitnessPal which I love.

Premade workouts/Trainers
Because I have done this kind of thing before, I half know how I want my workouts to look. Pretty much like my notebook above. Plus I’ll be basing a lot of it on what they have at the gym and what other people don’t use. 

Anything that slows down performance or requires me being hooked up to the web

So to the fitness apps. There are so many out there! Who knew. I can honestly say I have never even looked before and I was surprised by how saturated the market is. I decided to pick out 8-10 and see if I could pick out a top 3-4 and give them a road test. Here are the ones I looked at.

iMuscle 2
Price £4.99 – 9.99
Inputting measurements: Yes
Exercise diagrams: Yes
Customise workouts: Yes
Calendar ??
Watch version: Yes

Overall it’s a no. I can’t see a calendar. I can’t see where you put reps n sets data in at workout stage. I am also told in the reviews that there is a separate cost for iPad version which just mounts up the cost. It’s one to return to if the others don’t work out though as I hear good things about it.

Not enough info

Full Fitness
Price £2.99
Inputting measurements: Yes
Exercise diagrams: Yes videos
Customise workouts: Yes
Calendar Yes
Watch version: No

Overall, reviewers report that it is slow. Too many negative reviews about performance. I don’t need videos to slow it down, a diagram would be fine.

Too slow

Fitness Buddy
Price 4.99 (£30 per annum)
Inputting measurements: Yes
Exercise diagrams Yes
Customise workouts Yes
Calendar ??
Watch version: No

Overall it’s a no. It has some pretty damning reviews. People say it focused a lot on social media which isn’t really what I want. I’d probably test it if it were free  though. Maybe one to return to.

Too social

Price FREE – £30 per annum
Imputing measurements: Yes
Exercise diagrams:
Customise workouts: Yes Tracker looks good
Watch version: Yes

Overall, it’s a maybe.  Good routine lists with simple check function. Good charts. Just not sure if it shows diagrams of exercises.


All In Fitness
Price 2.99
Inputting measurements: Yes
Exercise diagrams: Yes
Customise workouts: Yes
Calendar: Yes
Watch version: No

Overall, I think it’s a no. Whilst it looks promising but can’t test it for free and a big part of it seems to be the food counter which I don’t need.

Can't test it

Reps & Sets
Price Free – £12 a year
Inputting measurements: Yes
Exercise diagrams: Yes
Customise workouts: Yes
Calendar: Yes
Watch version: Yes

Looks simple and unfussy. Good diagrams. Looks functional which is most important. No gloss and glamour. No ulterior motive like hooking up to social networks or selling you sporting goods. Does what it says on the tin as they say. Definitely one to try out.

Looks functional

Price 4.99
Inputting measurements: Yes
Exercise diagrams: Yes
Customise workouts: Yes
Calendar: Not sure
Watch version: Yes

Good diagrams. If green faceless figures mean it saves on memory which is fine by me. I am not put off by green faces. Written instructions which I like. Lots of charts. Just need to test out creating routines and scheduling them in a calendar. It looks powerful. A definite yes.

Looks customisable

Price Free – 5.99
Inputting measurements: ?
Exercise diagrams: ?
Customise workouts: Yes
Calendar: Yes. I like it
Watch version: Yes

I think the workout part looks pretty clear. Clear reps, big box where you enter data. Good clear calendar along the top with good workout synopsis. Charts of progress. Looks good on the watch. Great price point. The only hitch I can see is that there are no illustrations of exercises or info on how to execute them. But if the tracking is as excellent as it promises then maybe I can cope. One to test out.

Looks good

So i’ve downloaded all the apps I said yes to. I am now busy trying to programme in a custom workout. Then I plan to test them out at the gym. If everything goes well, I’m hoping to buy an Apple watch so an app which would work well on that would be a bonus. More once I explore how they perform in a real workout scenario.