Personal assistants

Apps complement workouts, but home gyms require dedication.

Michelle McClain is old-school. The trainer and co-owner of Not the Norm CrossFit in Leesburg prefers to keep track of her workout progress by writing statistics on paper.

But in the technological age, it’s difficult to avoid the inclusion of fitness apps in workout routines. Some estimates show there are as many as 325,000 mobile health and fitness apps available for phones, tablets, and other devices.

Of course, with so many different types of apps, their effectiveness depends on each individual’s goals, and what works for one person may not suit everyone, Michelle says.

“If you want to keep track of your workout and you’re trying to improve, then they’re very good for the informational part and to track your progress,” she says.

Michelle has used a few apps, and says MyFitnessPal is good for nutritional information such as counting calories and planning diets, and Runkeeper tracks distances and routes for runners and bikers.

Even if you’re just going out for a walk, a fitness app for your phone can track your walk in real time and share stats with friends. MapMyFitness, part of the Under Armour sports apparel company, is a series of apps including MapMyWalk, MapMyRun, and others, according to its website.

Just as exercisers enjoy the convenience of apps, many also want the convenience of a gym right at home. Since the days of Bowflex TV commercials in the 1980s, the home fitness market has boomed with treadmills, stationary bicycles, skiing tracks, multipurpose elliptical trainers, and more.

Again, the effectiveness of a home gym depends on the user.

“I think it’s great if you’re self-motivated and use it,” Michelle says. “But what I find is people who want to buy equipment eventually realize they’re not as motivated as they once were, and they wind up selling the equipment cheaper than what they paid for it.”

Sidney Gray, a trainer at Anytime Fitness in Leesburg, agrees that home equipment requires commitment, and adds that 30-minute “quick fix” workouts are not sufficient by themselves.

“Convenience is sometimes a negative. ‘I’ll get to it later’ turns into a catch-all,” he says. “But if you do put an effective workout program together, then the equipment can work for you.”

But home gyms can’t beat the real thing, Michelle says.

“The main thing is, we program and we coach,” Michelle says. “There’s always a trainer watching, and it’s group fitness, so you’re not working out alone.”

About the author


Chris Gerbasi

Chris Gerbasi has been a journalist for more than 30 years, writing and copy editing for newspapers and magazines throughout Michigan and Florida, and covering everything from city hall to spring training.

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