Ready to get your blood flowing? Check out five lifestyle apps for the iPhone that’ll keep your workouts fresh, track your nutrition, and help you get a good night’s sleep—and yes, most of them are free.
1. Nike Training Club (free)
This free app has all the kinks worked out—and as far as I’m concerned, it’s close to perfect.
Celeb athletes, ranging from U.S. soccer player Hope Solo to Li Na (the first Chinese tennis pro ever to win a Grand Slam title), team up with Nike fitness trainers to guide you through a range of workouts at the difficulty level you choose, with no superfluous steps.
Every workout completed unlocks a bonus workout or tip. The app looks intense, what with its gunmetal-gray splash page and fierce-faced trainers, but beginners and fitness buffs alike will find workouts tailored to their needs. And while it is geared toward women, I don’t see why Nike Training Club wouldn’t appeal to health-minded men, too … after all, Maria Sharapova is one of the trainers.
Bonus tip: I use Nike Training Club while traveling because the workouts don’t require equipment. If I need weights, I’ll use water bottles from the hotel fridge.
2. Fitness Pro (free)
Armed with a database of more than 450 exercises, complete with photos, Fitness Pro is a great free app for beginners because it outlines how to do every exercise step by step. For the experienced gym-goer, Fitness Pro makes for a handy way to learn new moves and review classics. Check out the anatomy tab to focus on specific muscle groups, or try the tracker, which charts your progress over a month or through an entire year.
3. My Fitness Pal (free)
This app is basically a calorie counter. If you’ve never kept a food journal or counted calories, this is a perfect place to start. You can learn how to gauge your caloric intake and your output. (For example, did you know you burn around 500 calories, just in your sleep?) There’s a huge database of foods to pull from, but beware: you might find out your favorite salad has more calories than a Whopper! The app even has a bar code scanner that I use in the grocery store.
4. Lark (free, $100 wristband required)
A silent alarm that wakes you gently at the end of a sleep cycle via an armband, Lark can help you wake up feeling refreshed, not jolted out of a deep sleep into a groggy morning. I set the timer for the 30-minute window when I want to wake up and Lark tracks my quality of sleep, including time I spent in REM sleep, and nudges me awake with a gentle vibration when I am closest to conciseness.
Nice, but what’s the catch? Well, Lark isn’t cheap.
Sure, the Lark app itself is free, but it won’t do you much good without the $100 armband that goes with it.
From my experience, though, you get what you pay for—and personally, I prefer Lark to cheaper silent-alarm apps that work (well, more or less) by sticking your iPhone under your pillow.
5. Runmeter ($4.99)
Any competitive person will tell you that beating yourself is the sweetest victory. Maybe that’s why I’m so addicted to Runmeter, a $5 app that lets me race against myself. When race training or even jogging gets boring, I fire up Runmeter to see how I’m stacking up against my previous runs. That always inspires me to pick up the pace, so I can kick my own butt.
Missile Wars is a (free) game rather than a wellness app, but it makes for a weird, crazy workout. You send and dodge virtual “bombs”’ with players around the world, and using your iPhone’s GPS, you run away from missiles heading your way. You look a little strange doing it, but it sure gets you off the couch.