10 Great Tools to Get in Shape
The New Year is finally here--and with it comes the realization that you probably had one too many pieces of pie at that last holiday party. Whether you want to work off just a few holiday pounds or you've made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape, you can find tons of fitness tools online and on your mobile phone that will provide motivation and assistance. Here are ten great tools that will help you track what you eat, where you run, and how quickly you’ve lost weight.
Fitocracy (Web; free)
Fitocracy is a new website that promises to turn weight loss into a social game with your pals. Once you sign up, you’ll be able to enter your workouts to earn points, gain levels, and dominate the charts. If some of your friends or coworkers have joined the site, you’ll be able to compete with them. Fitocracy has a number of tools to keep you motivated, such as the ability to challenge friends to fitness quests that you complete to earn extra points, plus daily goals offered by the developers.
Nike+ ($2 iOS app, free Web service)
Nike+ keeps track of how long and how far you run each day. While you can use the $19 Nike+ sensor in your shoes, if you have an iPhone or another GPS-enabled iDevice, the Nike+ app delivers reasonably accurate results. At the Nike+ website you can track all your runs and even challenge other users.
RunKeeper (iOS, Android, Web; free)
RunKeeper is a great alternative to the Nike+ app that shares most of the same functionality and is available on Android. Both apps track your running time and your location using your phone, and then report that data to a central website where you can review your progress. The design of RunKeeper’s Web interface may not be quite as impressive as that of Nike’s site, but it does have one major advantage over Nike+: It’s free.
FitDay (Web, PC, iOS; free, or $50 a year for a premium account)
If you need one place to monitor all of your dietary information, FitDay is the service for you. FitDay helps you record the calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates in everything you eat, and it even offers long-term analysis of how your diet is progressing and what you need to change. FitDay’s free mobile app (iOS only) makes entering meals on the go easy.
DailyBurn (Web, iOS, Android; $9.99 a month, free for DailyBurn Tracker)
DailyBurn is a great site with two major components. The first is a free site, DailyBurn Tracker, that lets you track your diet, exercise, and weight in one location, and connects you with other people in the DailyBurn community to stay motivated. The service has a ton of fringe benefits, too: In addition to food- and workout-tracking mobile apps, the company has apps such as Food Scanner, which records an item’s nutritional information when you take a picture of the product’s bar code. Daily Burn also offers a premium plan that adds features like workout videos and a nutrition plan. The new DailyBurn plan isn't free however and starts at $9.99 a month.
MyNetDiary (Android, iOS, Web; free, plus $4 and $10 pro versions)
If you want something a little easier on your pocketbook that still lets you stay on top of your food intake, try MyNetDiary. The free food-diary service has a Web app for assessing everything you’ve eaten, along with mobile apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7 that let you log your diet on the go. If you love the service so much that you can’t stand not giving them any money, the $4 pro version will remove ads from the iOS app.
Nike Boom (iOS, Android; free)
Nike Boom doesn’t monitor your workout, but it does help you push a bit harder when you exercise. It syncs your workout with high-energy music from your MP3 collection to keep you energized and inspire you to run that extra lap.
CrossFit Travel (Android; $2)
A workout routine is tough to stick to under the best of circumstances, but nothing can ruin your fitness plans quite like travel: You’re tired and less motivated, you probably can’t cook for yourself, and if you even have somewhere to work out, it’s strange and unfamiliar. Enter CrossFit Travel. This Android app gives you fast, simple workouts you can do anywhere, so you can stay in shape on the road.
Lose It (Android, iOS, Web; free)
Lose It is an all-purpose fitness tracker that helps you monitor your weight, your workouts, and your diet from one location online. Since Lose It is built to accommodate any workout or diet, it can take a little time to set up as you enter your own workout routines and diet preferences. But with free Android and iOS apps and community tools to help you stay motivated, Lose It is the most complete free health and fitness service on our list.
VirtuaGym (Android, Web; free)
All these tools to help you track your workouts aren’t very helpful unless you have a great workout to do. That’s where VirtuaGym comes in. This app helps you build a comprehensive workout, and it provides illustrations of the various exercises to make sure that you don’t waste your time.