- High-tech fitness websites and apps offer workouts and fitness advice
- The Scientific 7-Minute Workout offers guide to 12 key exercises
- RunKeeper track your route using GPS and tell you how far you’ve gone
- Instructor Live streams live classes every month to an electronic device
Some apps are designed to provide instruction and feedback as you move
Have pricey gym memberships and celebrity workout DVDs had their day?
A new breed of high-tech fitness websites and apps — programs you use on your mobile phone or tablet — offer workouts and fitness advice for a fraction of the price or even free.
Some provide watch-as-you-workout instructions that are best suited to larger screens such as iPads and other tablets.
And others are designed to provide instruction and feedback as you move, usually via a smartphone that can be strapped to your arm or waistband.
But how effective are the apps on offer and which will work best for you?
We asked London personal trainers Jon Denoris and Joe Wicks for their verdicts, then rated the apps for usefulness . . .
BEST FOR THE TIME-CRUNCHED
The Scientific 7-Minute Workout
£1.49; Android, iPhone and iPad
An app based on groundbreaking research in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine last year that suggested a mere seven minutes’ daily effort is enough to get you fit.
It offers a step-by-step video guide to 12 key exercises, including jumping jacks, push-ups and abdominal crunches. You do each for 30 seconds, rest ten seconds, then move onto the next. There are alternative exercises, a Pilates workout and you can customise your own plan.
Verdict: Great if you don’t have time to go to the gym or prefer to work out at home. None of the moves requires equipment — all use your body weight.
The potential for variety is limited and you might get bored. You would need to do this at least four to five times a week and combine with general activity such as walking for aerobic fitness. 9/10
BEST FOR GYM CLASS DEVOTEE
£5.99 a month with a 30-day free trial; instructorlive.com; laptop, iPod, iPhone and TV connected to internet
This website streams live classes every month to any internet-enabled electronic device.
A huge range of classes (around 40 different ones a month) includes ballet, Pilates and aerobics, all filmed from a studio in London.
Classes are live, but other participants can’t see you, though you can ask the instructor questions. If you miss a scheduled class, you can watch it on catch-up.
Verdict: Good value compared with the price of a gym membership. However, people enjoy gym classes because of the social side, so the lack of contact could be crucial. Plenty of options from beginner to advanced classes. 8/10
BEST FOR OUTDOORS
Free; runkeeper.com; iPhone, iPod and Android
One of the many walking and running apps that track your route using GPS and tell you how far you’ve gone and how fast.
You can store and save your favourite routes, input goals and follow set training programmes — from a beginner’s 5km to a marathon — share your workouts with friends if they sign up for the app or even compare results over the same course.
Verdict: Excellent as a basic motivational tool and one of the simplest apps around, the detailed training maps and routes are really useful. Much like a fitness tracker, it also calculates your pace in real time as well as working out your average and top speeds.
Keen runners or walkers may want more tailored data, which costs £27.99 a year with the premium service.
This fitness app also offers more personalised running programmes and downloadable feedback, along with a virtual coach who will keep you on track towards your goal. 7/10
Essentially Fitocracy is a fitness social network — a motivational tool with which you share your pain
BEST FOR MOTIVATION
Free; iPhone, iPod and Android
One of the most popular fitness apps of the past couple of years.
Essentially it’s a fitness social network — a motivational tool with which you share your pain with others aiming to get fit and (for a fee) learn better techniques and approaches from expert trainers.
You are encouraged to log your progress, list your challenges for others to see, then go about achieving them — using guidance and help of the other members, including fitness experts.
Verdict: Well-designed and simple to use, this app could prove effective for anyone who tends to lose interest after the first few weeks. The idea that you report back to fellow exercisers can be very motivational. However, it’s targeted at the beginner and could quickly lose its appeal. 7/10
BEST FOR YOGA FANS
Though targeted at all levels, even the more basic workouts assume some experience of yoga
Free; iPod, iPhone and Android
This provides a library of more than 50 classes with video demonstrations, music and 400 poses.
Plans come in a variety of intensities and durations. There are options such as ‘office yoga to de-stress’ and ‘seated yoga’ to be done at your desk or by people who are less mobile.
Verdict: Though targeted at all levels, even the more basic workouts assume some experience of yoga. There’s plenty of variety, but those wanting more advanced postures will need the ‘pro’ version of the app (£22 a year).
Yoga alone won’t improve all-over fitness, but it is a great adjunct to cardiovascular activities, such as running and cycling. 5/10
Tabata Trainer involves performing 20 seconds of an exercise followed by a ten-second rest
BEST FOR THE SUPERFIT
£1.49; tabatatrainerapp.com; iPhone and iPod Touch
Tabata involves performing 20 seconds of an exercise — including lunges, squat jumps and press-ups — followed by a ten-second rest, repeated for four minutes in total.
This provides a routines of varying lengths — there are no demonstration videos, so you need to know how to do each exercise.
Verdict: Not suitable for beginners. There’s also a risk that technique will suffer as you focus on speed and intensity, raising the risk of injury and muscle strains. These type of workouts could be demotivating or too challenging because, even though short, Tabata is incredibly tough. 6/10
BEST FOR INDOOR RUNNERS
BeatBurn Treadmill Trainer
£2.49; iPhone and iPod
Treadmill exercise classes — done in a group — are set to be a big trend in 2015, with gyms such as Virgin Active launching them.
This app prescribes individual running workouts set to music with varying speeds — slower for the warm-up (which you can walk) and faster for sprints and hill work.
You can customise the intensity and it can be used outdoors.
Verdict: Running to a beat has scientific backing — psychologists at Brunel University have shown many people find running to music easier. A good variety of tunes and you can add your own. It’s all about running or walking, though, so you’d need to add your own strength moves. 8/10
BEST FOR TONING
£2.99; barre3.com; iPhone and iPod
Creator and presenter Sadie Lincoln, who trained workout queen Madonna, provides 24 ten-minute ballet-style workouts for your mobile along with healthy eating advice and recipes.
It can all be done on the go — all you need is a table, tree, bench or chair to lean on. Routines are based on the principle of a cardiovascular workout (such as repetitive fast side steps) combined with dance-inspired toning moves performed with small pulse movements that will leave your muscles quivering.
Verdict: Well-presented and with clear instructions, but many exercises require equipment such as weights or yoga balls. You will need additional cardio exercises to keep your weight down. 6/10