Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in Android, app development, educational apps, muscle building apps, new product development, user experience | Posted on 14-06-2012
Fitness coaching on your smartphone
The benefits of exercise and healthy living are well known today. That’s why so many of us take out gym memberships and aspire to regularly workout in a gym. We also love our smartphones because they are so much more to us than just a communication device that allows us to make a call or listen to music.
An overwhelming choice of fitness apps
When we were deciding what apps to publish next and we looked at the fitness sector we saw instantly how well served our fitness friends are, with apps in all shapes and sizes that help us perform better in the gym, select workouts, keep track of our weight, plan meals and schedule reps. The Apple App Store and Google Play are literally overrun with thousands of applications that focus on health, personal training, and specific sports. Choosing the right app can be an onerous task.
Deciding what muscle building apps to publish
The thing that spurred us on to create apps in the fitness category was seeing the numbers of people who search Google and YouTube for strength and fitness ideas. We were instantly aware that fitness buffs want ideas, a structured program, support and motivation, more guidance in the gym and help with using complex gym equipment.
So when planning the apps we wanted to ensure we could provide this and we turned to an expert: Craig Ramsay, the world-renowned fitness trainer, and author of Anatomy of Muscle Building and Anatomy of Stretching. Why? Because people want expert guidance and Craig Ramsay knows his trainees and provides coaching to bodybuilders and fitness buffs everyday, as well as writing the tips and advice in his coaching manuals, books and DVDs. It seemed logical that if people want higher quality instruction they can trust, we needed to turn to an expert.
Less is more: apps that do one thing brilliantly
That’s why rather than attempt to provide limitless functionality in a small app, we decided to keep it simple, pair the contents back, and make the apps so they perform one task brilliantly: help users select the best exercises possible for any given muscle they want to work on.
So, unlike an app such as FitnessBuilder our apps don’t include a workout builder, nor do they offer ways to track and log your progress or give you access to various calculators for BMI and target rates for your heart. These features are helpful, but for us it goes against our app publishing philosophy to cram mobile app with too much functionality. We prefer to keep the user experience simple.
We made a choice: keep the apps simple: you simply choose the app you want, open the app and select a muscle from the menu, and the app will list the exercises that target your chosen muscles. Exercises are presented in full-colour photography, with clear step-by-step instructions and annotated cutaways of the muscular system, all scientifically labeled with expert tips to guide and motivate the user. When you’re done doing one exercise you go back to the menu and choose another exercise for that muscle. We’ve made a demo video of each app you can view here.
Feedback: a positive user experience
Early user reviews suggest fitness enthusiasts like having the anatomical illustrations and personal training tips at their finger tips, reporting that the muscle diagrams help them to visualise what their muscles are doing as they perform the exercises. Users also appreciate being able search by exercise or muscle group and having stretches included alongside the regular exercises.
The decision to keep our apps simple means that we encourage users to use our apps in conjunction with other complimentary apps like Gym Buddy: a versatile workout log. This app will allow you to edit your sets after you input them and to set countdown timers to monitor your rest periods. You might want to check out iWeight to help you track your weight. Lose It is an app that provides a way to track calories ingested in the form of food and expended in the form of exercise.
What are your favourite fitness apps? Please leave a comment and / or feedback