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How To Use Fitness Apps So They’re Actually Effective

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Amidst the boutique fitness studios, buzzy protein shakes, and trendy workouts, a new fitness is wave is sweeping the industry — and it caters to those on-the-go. Yes, digital exercising programs are taking over smartphones and devices everywhere and are essentially a handheld gym, complete with scheduled workouts and personal trainers to guide you. But how does one use a fitness app so that it works for the long-term?

The entire landscape in which people live their lives and communicate is completely and forever changing,” says Lacey Stone celebrity trainer and founder of The Stone Method, which offers a virtual training program. “Now, trainers and brands are creating online programs to connect like-minded individuals around the world, helping save time by stepping virtually into homes and giving daily attention to people who want to get healthier and need support to stay on track. Fitness program creators and the latest technology are now working together to provide people with engaging experiences for all their wellness needs.”

The beauty of the fitness and health app craze can be summed up in one word: convenience. “It’s right on your phone so you can do yoga, bootcamp, or find a running trail in an instant,” says Stone. “Most of the workouts are designed to be done even in a very small apartment or hotel room.”

In regards to the above notion, Phil Timmons, personal trainer for Blink Fitness, references a two-year proprietary research and development study that included more than 3,000 gym and non-gym-goers across the U.S. “Blink’s research revealed that people see exercise, nutrition, and rejuvenation as highly interconnected aspects of living a healthy life and frequently become frustrated or overwhelmed with trying to balance these areas,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons they see limited progress with their goals and frequently stop going to the gym.”

For this reason, Blink recently launched its Personalized Mobile Companion, which simplifies the health and fitness process by custom-building member profiles that align with their healthy living goals, interests, and preferences, and provide personalized content, based on that member’s profile, says Timmons. “Being able to access the kind of workout that fits your mood and energy level exactly when you’re looking for it in a way that’s convenient for you,” he adds. “It provides you with the freedom to break the monotony of doing the same thing over and over and the workout getting stale.”

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If you are one who enjoys the community aspect of working out, but just can’t find the time to make it to class, many workout apps include this component, too. “A lot of fitness platforms, mine included, have forums where you can interact with other people on the same journey, ask questions, and get advice from the trainers and community members, which is pretty cool!,” says Stone. “This type of accountability and interaction has been shown to keep people motivated and coming back for more.”

And last, but certainly not least, one can’t forget the alluring price points. “Paying for a class at a boutique studio is $20 to $40 a class. App workouts are a much lower cost. I have my own virtual system and it’s only $20 a month,” says Stone. “That means you can work out with me multiple times every day for pennies. It’s nuts how cost-effective it can become.”

So now that you know the “why” behind the fitness app movement, you’re probably wondering about the “how.” With ease and convenience of use can come compromise and lack of accountability, which can cause one to drop a workout program fairly quickly. So how do you make these apps work and stick for the long haul? Ahead, Stone and Timmons offer their pro tips on how to leverage the digital fitness trend to your benefit.

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Make Sure You Enjoy The Workout

As strange as it sounds, working out should be an enjoyable experience. It’s when it’s not that one starts to make excuses to skip it for things that are more pleasant. “The key is to grab hold of a workout style or program that inspires you and is fun,” says Timmons. “Stick with it for some time and allow your body to adapt to the demands of that workout [...] In order to make these digital workouts stick, you have to really listen to yourself. Everybody is different. It’s not only about how the exercise or workout plan is going to make you look, it’s also about how it’s going to make you feel.”

Get Rid Of External Distractions

Unfortunately, along with the comforts of home also come the distractions. Phone calls, visitors, pets, etc. can all take your focus from your workout, causing you to push it to the backburner. “When you’re alone in your apartment and you get a text message, family interruption, or notification, you’re very likely to stop and get off the fitness task,” says Stone.

Make sure your space is quiet and free of anything that will take your mind from the task at hand. Turn off your phone, make sure potential visitors know you’re busy for that hour or so, and create an environment that’s conducive of a productive, focused workout.

Have A Friend Do It With You

Just as there’s safety in numbers, there’s commitment in numbers. “Get a friend to do (the fitness app) with you,” says Stone. “No matter where they live. Even better if they live far away so you have a reason to keep your friendship connected. If you have someone you love or trust in your life doing the program with you it keeps you both accountable and building bonds.”

Find Some Balance

Burnout in fitness programs is definitely a thing, so make sure you balance out intense workouts with days of rest and more centering, relaxing exercises. You don’t need to empty your tank with every single workout,” says Timmons. “It’s good to mix in a little high intensity and shorter workouts with moderate and/or low intensity workouts that last a little longer. Recovering from your previous high intensity workout before repeating that level of intensity again is very important.”

Be Consistent

As with anything, making something a habit will produce results. Doing a fitness app program periodically will not allow you to see or feel any changes, and will inevitably lead to you using the app less and less and giving up completely. “Just like boutique workout studios and classes have a set time. I recommend doing the workouts every day, and to stick to it,” says Stone. “Plan your life around your workouts, not your workouts around your life.”

Switch Things Up … Eventually

Don’t be afraid to change things up over time and try a different type of workout or program once you start getting bored. Says Timmons: “When you feel like your results are slowing down it’s a sign that switching it up might be a good idea."