Now, if you’re thinking there’s no way these apps can get people sweating — and, more importantly, seeing continuous physical progress — the same way that an in-the-flesh personal trainer can, think again. Most programs, at least on the big brand name apps, are designed by superstar athletes (or at the very least, the trainers responsible for their physiques) like professional surfer Lakey Peterson and tennis star Serena Williams. There’s no doubt these programs were designed extremely thoughtfully to maximize minimal workout time. If executed properly and regularly, they will get results.
“The app offers some of the same benefits that come with having a personal trainer, like personalized and targeted training, but the NTC app is more accessible,” says Nike Canada’s communications director, Claire Rankine. “No matter the user’s fitness ability, budget, schedule or location, their next training session is always just a click away.”
This may be true, but I don’t think trainers need to worry about the future of their industry just yet. Where these walletfriendly alternatives to real life drill sergeants drop the medicine ball, so to speak, is in the motivation department. You really need to be a self-starter to reap the full benefits.
While an Olympian like Heil has no problem getting herself off the couch and pushing herself to the max during her appinstructed workouts, the average Joe and Jane likely find hitting the gym alone with their phone pretty unappealing after a long day at the office. I won’t name names, but I know one fellow with no less than a dozen different fitness apps on his smartphone. The number of times he set foot in the gym to use them this past year? Let’s just say he spent more time downloading them than exploring what they can do for his bod.
With an app as your training partner there are no scheduled appointments and no real repercussions to not showing up (though there are a few options out there that allow you to set up a monetary penalty for not following through with your goal setting). With a trainer you have built-in accountability. If you aren’t getting it done — or you’re doing it wrong — chances are they will call you on it. That’s what you are paying them for, after all.
If you aren’t using your training app, you won’t be collecting points or unlocking new programs, but for most folks that’s really not enough of a threat to make them put their butts in gear to do the “butt blaster” workout if they aren’t in the mood.
“If it’s good enough for an Olympian, it’s good enough for me!” Seems like a logical sentiment in regards to getting in shape, but it’s also quite possible that these pocket-sized workouts are good enough for world-class athletes precisely because they have the drive and determination of, well, world-class athletes. Now, if there were a fitness app that provided the secrets to staying focused like an Olympian, we’d all be doing those red-faced burpees, smartphone in hand.