Trees are spouting leaves, flowers are sprouting where you would not ordinarily expect flowers, and the mornings and evenings are warm enough to get outdoors. Time to put on those running shoes, grab that bike or just go for a stroll. It is springtime.
What do people do in spring? They look around their houses and apartments and say, "Where did all of this stuff come from?" They then clean the house. After that they look at themselves and say, "Where did all of these extra pounds come from?" They then decide it is time to exercise and lose the winter weight. Yet, instead of employing a personal trainer, consumers can find one right in their pockets.
Smartphones have the capabilities to monitor your heart rate, track how many calories you burned, see how far you have run and share all of that information with your friends to help you stay motivated. We take a look at some of the best mobile fitness apps below.
RunKeeper-- (iOS, Android)
RunKeeper is one of the top fitness apps on Android and iOS. It tracks your run or bike by how far you went, how long it took and the route you travelled. It has a personal dashboard to see all of your historical activities and monitor how you are progressing in your workout routines. Also, you have the ability to share with the RunKeeper.com community (which becomes your own personal cloud of fitness stats), along with Twitter and Facebook to get your friends and family in on the interaction. Nothing pushes you more than being held accountable by your loved ones. The app also integrates with an iPhone's music section to play tunes while you work out.
RunKeeper is one of the biggest fitness apps on the market, but it is more than that. It is a platform that developers can pull data from and push data to through the API it released last year. That means that many other types of fitness applications can interact with the RunKeeper platform, such as body building, biking, sleeping, strength training and nutrition.
Nike+ GPS is a lot like RunKeeper but with all the power of one of the world's largest shoe manufacturers behind it. The iPhone app offers GPS, pace tracking, a timer for short or long runs, a calorie counter, a pedometer and a music player. It is also social through Twitter, Path or Facebook. Nike+ also comes with the full celebrity endorsement of top athletes that have signed with Nike, allowing you to get feedback from the best of the best. Nike+ also offers the FuelBand, which is a bracelet that works as an accelerometer and tracks your movements whether you are running, walking or dancing.
Fleetly is an exercise log and tracker that has built-in game mechanics to push you further and farther every time you work out. It integrates with RunKeeper, Nike+, Fleetly.com's own platform and the Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale. You can get rid of your personal trainer and go straight to Fleetly, which has professionally written descriptions of top exercises and instructional videos. It also has a Workout Generator, where you can see what type of equipment is around you and figure out what to do with it. It's great for people (like me) that look at a piece of exercise equipment as if it were the Mars Rover - vaguely familiar-looking but perplexing to operate. It also allows you to track your exercise and is integrated with the RunKeeper API. And, you can challenge your friends on the leader board.
Gym Hero-- (iOS)
This app is drop-dead simple but highly effective for weight-training nuts. How many reps did you do? At what weight? How often? What part of the body? If you work out enough, sometimes you forget what part of your weekly routine you're in. Keep it in the Gym Hero log, which takes advantage of the RunKeeper API, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
iMapMyRun-- (iOS, Android, BlackBerry)
iMapMy comes from MapMyFitness. The publisher offers a variety of apps such as iMapMyRun/Ride/Walk/Fitness/Hike. iMapMyRun records your route like Nike+, and has social networking and website integration like RunKeeper. It is not quite in the same class as RunKeeper or Nike+, but it works well enough for what you are trying to do - which is map where you are going when you work out. It also has a slightly creepy feature: the ability to live-track your friends and family while they are out on the road in real-time. This is an opt-in feature, of course. Like RunKeeper, the website has the ability to log nutritional information and other exercise details, but it does not function like a platform off of which other developers can build. It's available for BlackBerry as well, which is not something we see all that often anymore.
Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker-- (iOS, Android)
Considered one of the top calorie counter apps for iOS and Android, Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker is published by MyFitnessPal.com. It has a food database with over 1.1 million foods that is easily searchable and available offline. It incorporates a bar code scanner for when you are shopping, and it can remember your favorite foods and save entire meals. It can track your progress and compare it with your friends. Additionally, it has over 350 exercises for cardio and strength training.
Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock.