5 iFitness Apps I Couldn’t Live Without

I wouldn’t consider myself gadget or tech-obsessed—I’m not going to run out and buy the newest iPhone the second it’s released or be the fifth person to join the hottest new social network—but my life is pretty digitally integrated. It comes with the nature of my work as a web copywriter, plus I find it easy to adapt new technologies.

Since everyone’s always trying to lose weight or get in shape, the market is saturated with health and fitness apps. I’ve tried a lot, some good, some not so good. My tendency to stick with a particular app depends on a lot of things, but above all if it makes my life easier or motivates me somehow, than I’ll probably integrate it into my daily routine. Here’s a round-up of the apps I find the most useful. Maybe you will, too!


Okay I’m not just saying this because I blog for Chicago Athletic Clubs. I am saying this because I really mean it: this app is awesome! It’s a very handy way to see your club’s group fitness class schedule. This completely eliminates the need to visit the website or rummage through your desk drawers to find wherever you put the hard copy of your club’s schedule.

You can read class descriptions, see who’s subbing, and even add a class to your calendar. Usually I stick to the same classes and schedule each week. But if I want to squeeze in a class before meeting a friend for dinner in a different neighborhood, I can just check the app to see what’s going on at a different club.

You can also sort by instructor, which is a great way to see if your favorite instructor is subbing soon. Or, you can sort by activity so you’ll know all the yoga, spinning, or cardio classes coming up and challenge yourself to attend as many as possible!

Recap: Use the CAC App to help set your fitness class schedule, or use it to mix things up and explore something new.


I wrote about GymPact several months ago when I first tried it. I’m surprised to say that I am still using it!

With GymPact, you set a pact for yourself to work out a certain number of days each week. Then, you set a dollar amount per day, say $5. For each day you don’t log a 30-minute workout, you get charged $5. If you complete your pact, you get paid out from all the people who failed to meet theirs!

The app uses GPS to verify your location at the gym, or you can log biking, walking, or running workouts with another app called RunKeeper and it’ll sync up. If you tuck your phone into an armband so the app can sense your movement, you can even log workouts at home.

I love this app so much not because it makes me money. You only “earn” about 20-40 cents per workout. I’ve logged 163 workouts so far, and I’m only up to $55 (I’m waiting until I earn a pair of Lululemon yoga pants to claim it).

What I really love about this app is that it motivates me to get my butt moving when I wouldn’t have otherwise. For anyone who knows me well, I’m pretty frugal. I’m the type of person who will go find a Chase bank half a mile away instead of paying a bar’s ATM fee. This is kinda the same concept. I will go for a 30-minute run or bike ride to avoid losing $5. But of course, I never regret doing so. I like to challenge myself for setting my pact for one day more than I would usually work out.

Recap: Motivate yourself to avoid losing your hard-earned cash and get an extra workout or two in each week!


I started using this app because it syncs with GymPact, and I ended up really liking it. Back in the dark ages of a year or two ago, I would run with a sports watch and my iPod Nano. But when I finally got a lightweight enough fancy phone that could replace both—plus could be used to call a friend if I got stranded, fancy that!—I started running with my phone.

RunKeeper is much better than a watch because it does more than simply track my time. It tracks my distance, too. So I’ll know the split of every mile on a run. I’m not so much into following all my stats on there, but I suppose it is nice to know that since I started using it I’ve logged 189 miles and burned 1,000 more calories last week than I did this week.

Recap: Get real-time updates on your running, walking, or biking workouts as you’re doing them and see your progress at the end.

Nike Training Club

Heading to the gym without a plan always turns out to be a disaster for me. So if there’s not a class coming up or I don’t have a particular workout in mind, I’ll just ask the Nike Training Club app to tell me what to do.

Nike Training Club turns your phone into a personal trainer. You can pick the length, intensity, and type of workout (like Get Lean, Get Toned, or Get Strong), then the app will tell you what equipment you need. Usually it involved dumbbells and medicine balls. Once you’re all ready, clear a little space and grab a towel because your butt is about to get kicked by your phone. You’ll get a play-by-play circuit workout with a lot of different exercises that’s timed down to the second.

If you don’t understand an exercise, you can pause the workout and watch a demo video. The app will also talk to you and remind you pointers on form, but I usually turn that off because I don’t want to be that weirdo with a talking phone and can’t be bothered with earphones. These workouts have you moving around quite a bit, so I would get tangled up in the cord anyways.

Recap: Not knowing what to do at the gym is no excuse not to go. Keep your workouts interesting and challenging with help from Nike Training Club.

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Betsy Mikel | betsymikel.com