Want to get back in shape? The smartphone in your pocket is a good first step.
Fitness apps are going beyond tracking the number of steps you’re taking in a day. There is a growing trend of these apps that are customising fitness plans to your body type and fitness level.
“Right now, the digital fitness market is largely dominated by one-size-fits-all plans, focusing on ‘bikini body’ transformations that never last,” said James Tonkin, co-founder of fitness app Zova. “Activity trackers tell you about the quantity of your movement, but offer no inference or guidance to improve.”
The Australian-designed iOS app tracks the user’s daily activity in steps, pace, heart rate, location, and uses this data to guide the user through customised walks, runs and 10-minute video exercises.
With more than 500 strength, cardio and flexibility exercises, smartphone users only need to use their body weight instead of pieces of equipment to work out. The app also has Siri and Apple TV integration to use in front of the TV at home.
“We work with PhD exercise physiologists from University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to advise us on our programming,” Tonkin said. “After we programme a workout, we refine it based on user data.”
Apps in the Field, Fitness In Your Pocket
Tech entrepreneur and fitness app user Max Pelzner said there is a group people who would prefer fitness apps to a personal trainer.
“Trainers and classes cost too much money. Life sometimes also gets in the way of making it to the gym,” Pelzner said. “I believe the most important thing about fitness apps is making a personal connection with the user, making them feel like there’s a coach on the other side encouraging and pushing them to do and be better.”
Lifestyle blogger Inna Semenyuk said she’s tried many fitness apps, including Zova. She however, still thinks that personal trainers still have an edge over fitness apps.
While apps can suggest quick workout sessions at home or in the park, a personal trainer takes into account any individual aspects of your fitness and health conditions, like any injuries you have.
“[Zova] has developed a massive exercise library, with video demonstrations done by top Australian fitness personalities,” Semenyuk said.
Ultimately many tech apps like Zova empower these users to take full responsibility for their own fitness regime, instead of relying on a trainer for their fitness.
Fashion and technology journalist Kristina Dimitrova disagrees. She uses a combination of fitness apps, as well as the gym.
“I think some [fitness apps] are great for teaching you the right moves and the exercises you need to achieve your fitness goal,” Dimitrova said.
“But having a personal trainer can be more motivating to actually get to the gym and exercise because you have an appointment with another person. The same can be said if you’re working out with a friend.”
Putting Personal to Trainer
Where personal trainers are concerned, the growing tech space is clearly an opportunity for business.
Social media has given a platform for trainers to interact with a wider audience. Fitness celebrities like Kayla Itsines have made their businesses thrive through constant interaction with fans.
Fitness apps are also a useful resource to share training regimes to a worldwide audience. Australian personal trainer Tanya Poppett released her smartphone app Train with Tanya earlier this year, with a range of high-intensity workout sessions for users to choose from without the need of a gym and its equipment.
“I wanted to give users a vessel where they have quick, equipment-free workouts at their fingertips, which they can use anytime, anywhere,” Poppett said. “You don’t need to slave away in a gym to become fit and healthy.”
Poppet has been getting great feedback from users about her workouts and finding out how to improve her boot camps. “I experiment a lot with my exercises and I am always trying to switch it up for my clients,” Poppet said. “Most users like the fact the workouts are short and sweet, and that there are lots of variety between the exercises.”
Fitness In Your Pocket: The Road Ahead
According to The Suncorp Bank, Australians spend AU$8.5 billion each year on gym memberships, sports equipment and fitness trends, while 94 per cent of Australians do some form of workout.
The popularity of subscription-based fitness apps and the availability of digital devices has given rise to more modern-day training, which doesn’t require a fixed location or the right gym equipment to have an effective exercise. This could cause a shake-up for the industry.
At first glance it would seem to be a challenge for not only gyms, but personal trainers as well. But the advent of social media and “in your pocket” bespoke training applications, is opening new business opportunities to trainers to reach out to new customers online.
Fitness apps are filling the gap for people who aren’t able to afford a personal trainer – though nothing beats having someone in person making sure you get that extra rep.