Exercise is something we should all be doing, because it is good for our bodies and equally good for our minds. Unfortunately, knowing this is sometimes still not enough to make me want to do it. I can be real lazy at times and I need that extra push to motivate me to workout. All of these apps in both the past and present have made me excited to work out and have helped me go from someone who hates running to someone who looks forward to the next one.
Couch to 5k
At the start of the year I realised that although I was going to the gym multiple times a week, my stamina was pretty poor. I decided to start going on runs to improve my endurance. As someone who had literally not run since mandatory cross country at school and avoided running at all costs, I was not sure I would ever be able to run a 5k. Couch to 5k is a completely free app for absolute beginners.
The app has a schedule of 3 runs a week for 9 weeks. By the end of it the aim is to be able to run a 5k or for 30 continuous minutes. The runs start with walking/running intervals and gradually increase the running time as the weeks go on. If you struggle with a run you have the option to repeat it, or repeat a week, as many times as you feel necessary before moving on.
As you run, your chosen trainer cheers you on, as well as giving you tips to make the run easier or more enjoyable. My trainer would say to repeat “I love running” in your head when you’re struggling and to start with it used to lowkey annoy me. Now, after finishing the program months ago, I still sometimes use that mantra!
The reason why this app made me want to run is because it felt like an achievement to complete each week and reach each milestone. I recommend following this programme with a friend or family member, so you can keep each other accountable. Don’t worry if you can’t get someone on board, the trainer’s commentary makes it feel like you’re not doing it by yourself anyway.
Even if you are someone that hates to run, I feel like this app will convert you. It contains a bunch of podcasts story lines that make you feel like the main character as you run. You choose a mission to complete, such as doing a medicine run or collecting food supplies and then start running. If you feel like you are slacking, you can turn on chase mode to be followed by a hoard of zombies to give you that extra motivation to go a little faster.
If like me, you need music to be able to run, you have the option to listen to your own music in the background as well. The app itself is free but you can upgrade certain aspects of it once you have exhausted all the free options. ‘Airdrop’ is one of the paid elements, where a real-world point is allocated for you to run there and back to recover supplies.
The app offers at home workouts too, each with their own story line, under the heading The Home Front. ‘Zombies, Stay Inside!’ is a Lockdown Workout circuit of dead bugs, squats and step ups. Or you can enrol on one of their training plans to meet a specific fitness goal. From running a 5k to training for a marathon.
I’d recommend this app for those who workout for fun or want the fun in working out, rather than die hard fitness fans.
Nike Run Club
This is the perfect free app to track your runs. It shows the route you took, how long you ran for and shows the splits for each km/ mile. Additionally, it offers a series of timed and distance runs to follow or you can use the Just Run option and do your own thing. If you choose one of their guided runs, like Couch to 5k, you get a trainer giving tips as you go. Nike Run Club has also partnered with the app Headspace to offer mindfulness podcasts and mindfulness guided runs. I love this idea, because it reinforces the concept that running can be therapeutic and not all about running your fastest time or running the furthest.
My favourite part about Nike Run Club is that you can add your running shoes and track the mileage you have run in each shoe.
I paired my pink Nike Run-swift that I have had for years, when I first downloaded the app. As motivation, I have promised myself a new pair of workout trainers once I run 300k. As you can see I still have a ways to go. You can set your own goal for when it’s time to upgrade.
You can also participate in weekly and monthly challenges, such as running 50k or 100k in a month, to earn achievements. Or you can earn streaks for running consecutive days and months. At the moment I am participating in a community challenge to run 7,000,000 km in August. It’s only 3 days in as I write and collectively we are at 780,000 km. Albeit, my contribution to date is a mere 5k. My own personal challenge is 50k in August, to get back into a routine of running daily after a month hiatus.
Nike Training Club
I am biased because I am a big Nike fan but this app is also worthy of the list. If you’re not a runner, this could be more your style than Nike Run Club. Although it is worth mentioning, Nike Training Club can be synced to Nike Run Club so you can see your runs in your workout history on NTC.
This app offers a ton of free workouts that can be done at home or in the gym. You can filter workouts by collections, so only workouts with basic equipment or no equipment or full equipment. You can also view workouts by which muscle group they target. It offers a wide variety of workouts from Yoga to core to mobility exercises.
Once you complete a workout it will show up in your history so you can view what you did each month and see your total workouts and minutes. Most of the workouts also show how many active calories you burnt and can be synced to your health app on your phone.
Similar to Nike Run Club, it shows your achievements and you can earn trophies for working out a number of times early in the morning or for doing 5 full equipment workouts. It is only a small gesture but it’s rewarding to gain achievements and if you’re competitive like me it encourages you to work harder to earn them all.
I love how the app has a feed where you can read interviews and articles about athletes. At the top of my feed at the moment is a feature on Cristiano Ronaldo, with a Q&A about his training and recovery. His 15-minute quick hit abs workout on the app is my go to when I haven’t worked out all day and want to get a small workout in.
During Lockdown there has been a lot of pressure on Social Media and even from friends and family to be doing at home workouts all day long and running marathons in your garden. If you have done none of that, you shouldn’t feel guilty at all. If you have found yourself wanting to exercise a bit more, for your own benefit, but aren’t sure where to start- I hope this list offers some guidance.
If you have a workout app that has changed your life, let me know in the comments, I’d love to give it a trial run!