Fit is cool. But fit is not just lean and mean or bursting out of your t-shirt, Schwarzenegger-style. It is about being able to go about your routine tasks without huffing and puffing. But with our sedentary lifestyles, we sit back and relax, check our Facebook updates, or just chat away the time that we could have been out there exercising.
On the other hand, that may be a wrong scoreboard for the fitness game. Game theory preaches that the data for content analysis comes from the scoreboard, but if your scoreboard itself is wrong… Phew!
Despair not, help is on hand. In that self-same smartphone you use to monitor your virtual life, your social network and your chats, there are applications that will help you monitor your fitness regime as well. While there are scores of such apps out there, we look at three that we feel are toppers.
(Free; Premium costs $3.99)
Works on: BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Windows, Symbian, Java
Endomondo is the most popular app out there, and covers the largest variety of sports — road cycling, mountain biking, skating, roller-blading, kayaking, hiking, golfing… It will measure the metrics, let you record the route, the calories you burnt, time taken, and upload all these details to the Web.
The free version does everything from a countdown to start, to measuring parameters, but if you need deeper analysis, go premium. Want to measure your heart beat? Get a heart beat belt. Want to measure the cadence during your bike ride? Get a cadence sensor. And then you are good to go.
Endomondo can monitor performance data live, so your friends can see what you are doing (if this feature is enabled) — say cycling, with lap breakups. They can also get a live map of your location. And if they are out on their cycles, too, you can even compete virtually with them, whatever part of the world they are in.
Endomondo can even play your favourite music, and prompt you on how you are doing via your hands-free. On a few Android phones I had issues with getting the music to work via the headset, though. The free version also lets your friends cheer you with text-to-speech messages via the Endomondo website.
Works on: Windows, Android, iPhone and Nokia Symbian
Sports-tracker has the coolest looking scoreboard, with sunrise and sunset timings on the screen. You can plan outdoor workouts easily. Sports Tracker is absolutely free – there is no paid version at all. It also lets you connect with your friends. One great feature is that it has a camera button on the application screen, which will let you click a picture while your workout is on without having to pause the app and switching to camera mode.
There is a drawback: no provision for a heart rate monitor. Neither can you compete with your own previous workouts, or with someone else. But hey, it is free, right?
(Free; premium subscription at $4.97/month)
Works on: Windows, Blackberry, iOS, Bada, and Android
Runtastic runs Endomondo very close. The premium subscription is what makes the difference. Runtastic not only gives you more parameters, but also gives tips during and after work out. The free version is limited, but it lets you measure statistics. The paid version gives statistics comparison from past workouts to your friends work outs. It also enables you to get a discount on pre-planned coaching/training plans, from running a half marathon to a full marathon, to weight loss programmes.
It also lets you choose your feedback voice between Julia (woman) and William (man) to egg you on as explore your limits, and like Endomondo, a ‘powersong’ button lets you choose a song that will help you push yourself. Jai Ho!
Sadly, the heart rate belt Runtastic uses is wired, unlike Endomondo’s wireless.
So if you have a GPS-enabled smartphone, get hold of one of these apps, and tell the world (or your friends) how you are sweating it out. You can even share the results on your favourite social media app!
(Gagandeep Sapra is a technology entrepreneur, who calls himself The Big Geek)