April 18, 2014

Can Android Be a Personal Trainer?

As the weather gets warmer and summer approaches, I invariably feel the need to lose a few pounds. Sadly, I am lacking in the funds department and therefore cannot afford to hire a personal trainer. So I set out to do the next best thing-call on my T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Android phone to help me out. With all the fitness apps out there and the fact that I always have my phone nearby, I figured this would be the most affordable option.

After a thorough search of the free apps available, and some trial research, I decided on two to help me out in my adventure. Both apps have been used on Android version 1.5 and 1.6 with unnoticeable differences between the two.

CardioTrainer

One, CardioTrainer, I have been using for quite a while, to record the occasional walk with my dog, and the second, Calorie Counter, my husband has been using on his phone to count his calories with excellent results.

Each day I record my workout with CardioTrainer, which has an excellent, easy to read interface and a handy feature that automatically starts playing a playlist of my choosing at the start of each session. Each workout is recorded by GPS and tells me how far I go, or, if I choose, how many calories I have burned so far, at the intervals I set. When done, I can save my workout and upload it to their website (requires free registration) for later consultation.

The one problem I have found with this app, is sometimes the GPS goes a bit haywire during a run causing my distance to not be recorded properly. However, this problem is few and far between and hasn’t really caused much of a problem since it usually happens at the beginning and can easily be restarted. Also, the auto-pause feature was a bit annoying until I changed the time interval setting. But unlike most apps that rely heavily on the GPS capabilities, I haven’t noticed any major battery drain, even when one hike lasted for 4 miles.

All in all, it’s a great motivator during a workout to see how far I have gone, and I sometimes push myself that much harder, just to make it to the next mile, or to get to a certain calorie range.

Calorie Counter

The other app, Calorie Counter, I am basically using to count my calories so I can keep my intake around 1500 per day. So far, this app has really impressed me with the depth of its features. Like most apps, you have the option to sync your data with their website (requires free registration) so you can access and make changes to this data using your home computer.

The main feature that sold me on this app is the large database of food options already available from supermarkets, restaurants and popular brands. For example, a quick manual search of “Trader Joe’s salad” returns four pages of different types of salad offered at Trader Joe’s. If I am typing challenged, I can simply scan the bar code on the package to find a specific product. The salad I ate yesterday wasn’t one listed, so with very little effort on my part, I added it to their database in less than a minute. When I looked today, there it was, at the top of the list.

Calorie Counter also gives you the option to add to your food diary something you eat on a regular basis with one click. Add to that the ability to include your exercise for the day(I enter the stats from CardioTrainer), a reminder to weigh in and a daily graph of your progress, the few lags during saving and searching are easily over-looked.

So far, Android has proved to be a great motivator in my quest for a beach ready body. Now all I have to do is add the theme from Rocky to my workout playlist, and I’m set!

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