It was, perhaps, inevitable.
As more and more aspects of physical life migrate to the digital realm, it should come as no surprise that the most physical of activities — working out — would make the move as well. Indeed, fitness apps designed to provide exercise tips and nutritional advice and track progress have become as ubiquitous at the gym as juice bars.
“Fitness apps are definitely on the rise,” says Amanda Rossiano, manager of Anytime Fitness in Schererville. “Everyone is looking for a quick or easy fix, and these tools are instantly available at the tap of a button.”
Like many other technology-enabled tools, however, it’s important for people to realize the limitations of fitness apps and to treat them as simply one more piece of the overall wellness puzzle, rather than an all-encompassing solution, says Alyssa Blahunka, exercise specialist at Community Hospital Fitness Pointe in Munster.
“Using a fitness app is a great way to get ideas for workouts or meals, but they don’t compare to the advice of a professional who would be able to give you recommendations based on your current lifestyle, health status, joint issues, dietary restrictions and limitations,” she says. “Fitness apps with home workouts and new recipes certainly have a place for established exercisers without many limitations, but for beginners, finding a professional in the field would be extremely beneficial to better ensure safety and personal or customized planning and goal setting.”
That inability to customize and personalize one’s workout routines, nutritional needs and goals is, in fact, one thing Blahunka and Rossiano see as a drawback of many fitness apps on the market. Rossiano also notes that many apps don’t always include easy-to-understand, step-by-step exercise instructions or instill a sense of accountability and drive. And, in a comment that will certainly resonate with those who often find themselves falling down the rabbit hole of our information age, she also cautions that some people might end up spending more time on the phone messing with the app than working out.
On the other hand, however, Blahunka and Rossiano see the convenience of tracking your physical activity and the ability to easily find new ways to change a fitness routine as a couple of great reasons to embrace fitness apps. The key to getting the most out of them is something that should ring familiar from so many other discussions of exercise and nutrition: everything in moderation.
“I believe that in order to get results, you must be dedicated but also have the right tools for success,” Rossiano says. “Fitness apps can definitely help get people moving in the right direction, but there’s often more to it than that. You don’t have to have a gym membership to get in shape, but I don’t think an app will ever be able to replace the personal connection, accountability or extra motivation that comes along with the experience of working with a personal trainer or attending a group training session.”