Doctors give tips on how to select the best fitness app for you

While fitness apps have surely made the pursuit of fitness easier, it would still be wise to use your discretion while choosing among the hordes of apps out there.

By: AP | Miami | Published:February 10, 2016 2:28 pm
sports medicine, doctors, expert tips, fitness apps, apps, fitness, goals, rest, barre, yoga, fitness trainers, personalised attention, #fitspo, bikini body, cross training, Instagram, workout, stretches Sift through cookie-cutter fitness apps to find that works best for you with a little help from these expert tips. (Source: Nicola via Flickr)

There’s no reason to set foot in a gym, thanks to hundreds of new fitness apps and online workouts. But, choosing one can be overwhelming. We asked sports medicine doctors for help finding the one that’s best for you.

Personalise it:

Look for programs that offer personalised screenings and gather details on your past injuries, health conditions and fitness goals.

“There are a lot of cookie-cutter apps out there and people that just want to get your monthly subscriptions. They’re really not concerned about helping you reach your goals, or more importantly, if any of these movements are going to injure you,” said David Alexander, who’s trained LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and owns DBC Fitness in Miami. “It’s beneficial if you can find an app out there or an online program where you’re having conversations via email, phone or face time with the trainer that can help make sure you’re doing exercises correctly.”

Some apps offer daily or weekly check-ins with trainers and a few offer real-time feedback. While those are more costly, you can also pop into a live class in your area to get some pointers. So, if you are a new yogi starting at home with an online subscription, it’s important to take a class a couple of times in a month to have someone check your form.

Have fun:

It doesn’t matter whether all the supermodels are doing barre classes if the thought of it totally bores you. Find something you love because you’re much more likely to stick with it.

“It’s pretty well known that the novelty of these things wears off within several months,” said Dr Daniel Vigil, a UCLA Health doctor who has served as the USA team physician for several international competitions, including the World Cup. “Find the device that truly is the most appealing to you, something that looks good to your eye and makes you have that visceral response. That’s what is going to make you use it and keep you curious and keep it entertaining,” he added.

It doesn’t have to be super high intensity and it doesn’t have to be the ‘it’ workout. Movement is movement.

Don’t be afraid to modify:

High intensity interval training can offer mega results, but if you’re just starting out and have never done sumo squats with a kettlebell, make sure to tailor the programme to your needs. That means if an exercise comes onscreen that irritates an old knee injury, take rest, modify it or replace it with a move that works for you.

“That’s where I can get a little worried about some of the apps is that folks might be compromising form just to get some of the moves done…don’t stretch to pain,” said Dr. Jeff Mayer, who specializes in sports medicine and has worked with the Baltimore Ravens. “When you’re compromising form and you’re compromising the integrity of the exercise, you open yourself up for an increased chance for injury and we see that all the time.”

Don’t be afraid to do fewer repetitions at first and then work your way up. Five reps with proper form are far more effective than 10 done incorrectly.

Give it a rest:

While your Instagram feed may be full of #fitspo — which stands for fitness inspiration — it’s important to pick an app that includes rest days to avoid injury and physical and mental burnout.

“You want to find something that gives you three workout days and one recovery day — whether it’s a yoga day, a stretch day or a Pilates day. Find something that’s not high intensity everyday while you’re building your foundation,” said Alexander.

Mix it up:

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. Cross training is the key to not just avoiding injury, but also to keep your muscles from plateauing. It’s all about muscle confusion. So, if you’re a die-hard yogi or barre lover, find an app to help you add in some higher intensity interval training.

“It may be a combo of these apps would be best … it goes back to what’s your main goal? Is it to get better cardiovascular fitness, is it to get more flexible, is it to get stronger?” said Mayer.