Our Favorite Health & Fitness Apps – May

20 Minute Fitness Episode #77

Today on the 20 Minute Fitness podcast’s ‘How Technology Can Help’ mini series we have a special episode for you. We introduce our favorite health & fitness apps of May that will help you make the most out this month.

In each of our ‘favorite health & fitness apps’ episodes, we’ll try to focus on factors that might be unique to that given month. Hence this week, Charlie puts the emphasis on two things. Firstly, the possibility to train outdoors due to the warmer weather. And secondly, the usual dieting “sprints” before the summer arrives.

Tune in and learn all about our favorite health & fitness apps for outdoors workouts and those that will keep your nutritions in check!

What You Will Learn

1) The Apps That Will Let You Cancel Your Gym Membership

As the weather gets warmer, we can basically say that it’s a “sin” to exercise indoors. There’s literally nothing better than getting your body moving while inhaling some fresh air. And we’ve got the perfect guidance for you.

#1 Favorite Health & Fitness App of May – Freeletics

Our favorite app of May 2019 is Freeletics. Freeletics is a workout app that uses purely bodyweight exercises, making it perfect for outdoors training. Besides having a ‘no equipment’ focus, Freeletics also puts a great emphasis on personalization. After filling out a questionnaire, the app will create a personalized trainer journey and assign you a digital coach. Reaching your personal fitness goals is guaranteed this way.

#2 Favorite Health & Fitness App of May – Bit Timer

The second app is more for those who have a clear vision in mind about the exercises they want to do. Bit Timer is “the world’s simplest interval timer” that aims to get you doing some sweaty interval trainings. Bit Timer has a specific format of “work – rest – repeat” which can be tailored to your needs. So if you know your exercises and only need some guidance for timing, Bit Timer is the app for you.

#3 Favorite Health & Fitness App of May – Ladder

Our final app in this category is the Ladder, which is perfect for those who need some extra help. The Ladder works pretty much on the same principles as Freeletics, except that this app will pair you with an actual human personal trainer. Pretty much like a social media platform that makes personal training more accessible and convenient to all.

Listen to this week’s episode to learn about the ins and outs of all three apps and find out which one’s the best for you!

2) The Ultimate Help That Will Keep You On Your Diet

Another quite common activity that we like to engage in before summer is dieting. As we all know the 70-30% rule, what you eat is actually more important for getting in a good shape than how much you exercise. So here’re a couple of apps that you can download for some help.

The Ultimate Guide To Vegan Protein

#4 Favorite Health & Fitness App of May – Foodility

Foodility is a nutrition tracking app that finally focuses on simplicity rather than overcomplicating your logging process. This app is the definition of minimalism, as its main feature is a simple calendar where you can add your food intake by selecting a date. Use Foodility to keep track of what you eat, your workouts, your water intake and other useful data in the simplest possible way!

#5 Favorite Health & Fitness App of May – HowUdish

Finally ‘HowUdish’, an app that helps those who like to eat out to stay on track with their diet. HowUdish uses Geolocation data to suggest healthy dining options nearby that match your diet. After setting up your profile, the app will know all your dietary restrictions and also your goals that will help to find personalized healthy food options specifically for you.

Press play to hear how you can best use Foodility and what special features you may discover if you download HowUdish!


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Full Transcript

00:03: Hello and welcome back to another episode of 20 Minute Fitness. I really hope you’re having a great week and you’re managing to get that exercise in because obviously, summer is right around the corner and so now is the time to start dialing it in and working towards that physique that you’ve always wanted for summer. Now obviously, this doesn’t have to be too ambitious or outrageous like getting a defined six-pack if you’re not near that goal already. It can be the goal that works for you, whether that’s losing five pounds or getting fitter or just becoming more confident in your body. And that’s why this week’s episode of How Tech Can Help is a special episode because today we’re going to be focusing on our favorite health and fitness apps of May.

00:47: Now this is going to cover apps that let us make the most of the better weather, for example, so they’re allowing us to workout outside. It’s not going to be a fitness app that restricts you to using weights in the gym, for example. And we’re also going to look at apps that can help us dial in on nutrition and those will obviously reinforce our training.

01:05: So if that sounds good, then please make sure you head over to Apple Podcasts and take five seconds to click those five stars, and we really, really appreciate it. It really does go a long way for us and we love hearing that you are enjoying the podcast because we really do try and put time and effort into it. And obviously, while you’re there, if you do want to get alerted as to when the next episode is released, then make sure you hit the subscribe button as well. But before we dive in to today’s episode, of course, 20 Minute Fitness is powered by ShapeScale. ShapeScale is a 3D body scanning scale. So you simply step on and there’s a robotic arm that moves around your body and it’ll move up and down, capturing all sorts of body data. This is then transferred to the app and through the app, you’ll be able to see a photorealistic 3D visualization of your body through an avatar and you’ll also be able to see the data alongside it, that includes your muscle mass, your muscle girth measurements and your body fat percentage. So that makes ShapeScale a really, really comprehensive fitness tracker. And you should head over to shapescale.com to pre-order now.


02:08: So now let’s get into the show and look at our favorite health and fitness apps of May. So first up, we’re looking at apps that allow us to workout outside, really. We want to make the most of the good weather, it’s great to be outside, getting that fresh air is so rewarding, it’s so nice and it’s just a break from obviously being confined to an office for a lot of us, for most of the day. So these apps are gonna help put you through your paces with workout that can be done outside.

02:36: And first up, we have Freeletics. Before diving into the intricacies of Freeletics, it is worth noting that this app has a community of around 33 million people that all trust in its ability to get them in the shape they’ve always wanted. So that’s obviously a lot of credibility here and you know just from the outset that you can trust the training the app provides, for example. Freeletics focuses on body weight training and that’s obviously why it can be carried out outside because you don’t need any equipment to do any of the bodyweight exercises they provide and obviously also to provide you with an ass-kicking workout as well.

03:08: So the app provides you with a digital coach by asking you a series of questions. So these include: What’s your gender? What’s your goal? Are you trying to get fit or gain muscle or lose fat? They’ll try and find out your current fitness level and more personal information such as your height and weight. And then a trainer journey is recommended. This is obviously based on the data you’ve just given and this includes a database of different programs, and this could be anything from a 12-week strength program to a stamina program to also a 12-week shred and burn program. And no two journeys are the same. So if you are, for example, trying to choose the 12-week shred and burn program for summer, then you know when it comes to wintertime and you want to look to gain some more strength and you opt for the 12-week strength program, you’re not just going to be getting the same uniform training program. They really are tailored to the goals.

04:00: So upon selecting your desired program, you’ll then be provided with a sort of synopsis or biography of what to expect in that 12-week shred and burn program, for example. And obviously, this would be the most sort of relevant for summer. And so this will tell you within that bio that you should expect explosive cardio and bodyweight exercises, usually a low rep range and it will also tell you that the results are geared towards helping you reveal the muscle that is underneath your body fat. So helping you to lean up.

04:25: Each workout’s between 10 to 30 minutes, so obviously, there is literally no excuse for you not getting some exercise in the day. I am fairly confident that most people can afford, even if they have to make their timetable more flexible. So getting up earlier or just finding half an hour over lunch to fit in a workout outside. Within the trainer journey as well, you also get a break down at the different weeks of the program, so what’s included per week. So if for example, week one is used for an assessment of your current ability and then weeks two to 11 will be your digital coach, basically customizing workouts for you and adapting the program based on the feedback you give them on the different exercises you’re given. And in week 12, there’s something called Hell Week, which obviously sounds horrible to us that aren’t fit at the moment, but come week 11, you should be well prepared for it and it’s your chance really to blast it out and show everyone how far you’ve come.

05:15: So when you’re performing the exercises that the trainer journey provides, you’ll get a video guide for you to follow to ensure you’re actually completing it with correct form and you’re obviously following the correct number of reps and things like that on the screen. And there’s a little indicator next to the exercise to show you what the next exercise is going to be so you can brace yourself for the pain that’s about to come. The app is very flexible. Obviously, the makers of Freeletics understand that people have tight timeframes and that’s often why people can’t find time to exercise in the day, because they’re very busy. So, to accommodate your schedule, you can choose and adjust the number of training days per week and your coach will obviously learn about these preferences as well.

05:51: Within the app I think this is a really cool feature as well, especially for finding outdoor areas to workout to make the most of the weather and you can find training spots and join localized groups, which allow you to meet other people and train together with them. So this is almost like an ultimate source of motivation, finding someone who’s gonna provide you social support and keep you accountable and obviously you can build up a network whilst working out as well with like-minded people who are also trying to get in shape. So another great benefit of the app.

06:16: So Freeletics as well works via a subscription service and the prices depend on the duration you select. So, for example, it’s gonna be less expensive if you opt to pay for 12 months rather than six, but it works out to be less than $6 a week for the different lengths of time. So really it does sound the ideal app to get you in shape for summer and to make the most of this May, because we are very close to crunch time now. And just the final business of credibility for the app, Freeletics claim, from an initial survey they did of people using the training, that 96% of their users were satisfied and experienced progress after working with a digital coach for 15 weeks. This is also something that I’m really considering because I really want to boost my bodyweight training ability. I’m someone who’s usually done a lot of 5×5, strength training compound lifts like the dead lifts, squats, bench. However I want to start working on my functional fitness and being more explosive and working on my plyometrics, so Freeletics could be the app for me, especially because as I keep saying, summer is around the corner and I want to be in the most optimal condition possible.

07:18: So the next app we’re going to look at is a lot more simple, but I actually think it could be very useful considering obviously that we’re looking at working out outdoors and working really hard in a short space of time. So Bit Timer is the app and it promises to be the world’s simplest interval timer ever. So it’s no thrills design and it’s obviously made to try and get you to get doing high-intensity sweaty sessions. So the app will require you to have some understanding of obviously of the exercises you want to do because it is that simple. It’s not gonna give you a step by step exercise program as to which exercises you should perform next, but it requires you to either have some expertise or some proficiency level in fitness or to have just looked up what exercises you want to do before you using the app.

08:00: You’ll also have to understand the number of reps you want to do, the rest time in between each exercise and so on, as well so it’s worth doing your research before diving straight in. And obviously you won’t have a video as well showcasing how you do the actual technique. So what the app does or its functionality is you have blocks really that you simply press and drag on the app to design your circuit and it follows a work, rest, repeat format. So work is when you’re actually going to be doing the exercise. Rest is the time in between each one. And repeat is how many times you’re going to do this circuit. And you can tailor this to how you want. So for example, you put the work section for 30 seconds, you put the rest in between for let’s say 15 seconds and the repeat section, six seconds. And then you work through it like that.

08:43: So it might look like, “I’m going to do 30 seconds of burpees.” The timer starts, then you have a 15-second rest period in between. Then you go again and you’re repeating that six times over. A 10-second countdown allows you to get ready before the work timer begins. And then you’ll have three distinct sounds which will alert you to which section you’re on. So if you’re not in front of the phone, because obviously you put it to the side whilst you’re trying to do your exercise, you’ll be able to become familiar with the sound that says, “I’m moving onto my rest now,” or, “I’m moving onto the work section once again.” The app is obviously very simple. It costs $1.99 and I think it is a great investment for that summer body, especially because you can just utilize it anywhere.

09:19: If you’re going on holiday or for example, you have 15-20 minutes to hit that workout, you have the month of May to get fit and you don’t really have any equipment, but you know you have a series of exercises in your head. You can just get out every day, 15-20 minutes, blast the HIIT workout session out and feel good about the progress you’re making towards your summer body.

09:38: The next app we’re looking at is Ladder and I found this quite interesting as well. So from the website, Ladder is a workout app that pairs you with a coach and it’s not an AI coach this time, it’s a real person that you could interact with and they will basically help you build a workout routine and plan around your schedule to help you obviously achieve your goal. And basically, it starts off with a questionnaire which you can complete online or via the app, and you’ll start off with basic questions, like well, it’s much like Freeletics, your height, your gender, your age, and then you’ll find more specific questions coming.

10:08: So do you belong for gyms? They know whether to provide you exercise options which use compound movements and weights and things like that, or whether you’re going to focus on at-home workouts and obviously being outside and using your body weights. They’ll ask how many hours a week you exercise, how confident you feel in the gym, your key goal if that’s to lose fat, to gain muscle or just generally feeling better and more healthy. And then the service finds out what you find hardest, which I think is a key question as well, because I’m someone who finds it very easy to get my exercise in. I love and I almost feel it’s a necessity for me to do some form of exercise each day, just to get those endorphins running and things like that. But I do struggle with my sleep sometimes. I’m not very good at getting to sleep.

10:46: And I also struggle with my diet occasionally, as I am a foodie and I do like to eat. So that will obviously help the coach know what he should check in with or check on you about. So he might say, “Right, obviously, I’m sure you’ve done, you hit your workout for the day, but what are you eating?” for example, to actually pinpoint my weak points. Following from that, they’ll also ask your, to really find out what kind of person you are, what are your behavioral characteristics? So for example, on a Sunday, do you find that you’re just having a loungey Sunday or are you doing a hike, are you playing sports are you out with friends? If you’re at home on a Sunday, what episodes on television do you want to binge, and this will help pair you with a coach that’s obviously right for you in terms of personality, not just in terms of how well they’re going to get you towards your goal based on your own personal requirements.

11:30: That’s a nice aspect as well because you do have to be able to get on with your coach to want to work with them. And after this, one more key question is asked, what type of coach are you looking for? Do you want someone who’s going to be a challenger, push you, work you hard, potentially be less empathetic and actually get you to work beyond where you think you’re humanly possible or do you want a motivator? Just someone to check in and say, “Come on, you can do this. You’re getting closer towards your goal.” Do you want an analyzer? What’s going wrong with your workout routine? What could you improve? Just doing a comprehensive analysis of your fitness lifestyle, for example. And then you get to select the two specialities from your coach that you would really like. So for me it would be something like I include strength training and another one obviously because I want to make use of the better weather now would be home gym. I want to be doing these functional bodyweight exercises outside. And then you’ll be paired with or there’ll be a selection, I should say, of coaches that you could choose from with biographies of each of the coaches. So you can choose your preference. And the specialities they have as well are very intricate, for example.

12:31: So you could choose someone who has expertise in senior fitness or prenatal or postnatal fitness, so there really are a lot of different options for you to choose from, and then obviously you can select your personal trainer or coach from the list, they then provide you the short list, for example. Through the app, you’ll then connect to your coach and a dialog will start in order for them to understand your needs and obviously to get you started as well, providing your diet plan and exercise plan as well. And throughout the journey, the coach will be able to check in with you and find out how you’ve been finding it so far, what’s your struggling points, and you’ll also be able to check in with them if you’re for example, lacking motivation one day, and they’ll be able to fire you up and get you passionate and keep thinking about that end goal, as well.

13:12: Other great features include the fact that you can see your workouts in advance, so you can plan ahead of time, so if you know you’ve got a workout on the Wednesday, you can say, “Right, I’m gonna block out that time for me to do that workout.” Again, there are videos on every exercise, so you can understand that you’re doing the correct form, and your trainer will also give you notes. They might say, “Really focus on the concentric movement this time and have a squeeze at the top for… ” Or whatever it is, for whatever muscle group you’re doing. Just what you should focus on, tightening your core or anything like that as well. And as I said, no gym membership is needed. Workouts can be done outdoors without the need for any equipment, so that’s another great feature, and that’s why it’s included in our favorite health and fitness apps of May because it allows us to get outside, get out in the fresh air and kill our workouts.

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15:15: Next up, we’re gonna look at two nutrition apps. And the first one we’re going to look at is Foodility. Again, with Foodility, simplicity is key. I often find that people who get overwhelmed using calorie counting apps like that of MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, they for example, might forget to input their food until the next day, and then not really recall what the nutrition was of that meal. They also might neglect to include certain things that obviously do add to the food count. That might be cooking with olive oils or that might mean including sauces with your food. And so despite giving you a good base to understand the amount of calories you’re intaking versus if you’re tracking your exercise, how much you’re burning, they’re not obviously completely accurate, and you should use it as a foundation rather than basing your whole fitness plan around that.

16:00: Foodility removes this feature and focuses on being a simple food and fitness diary. So again, like Bit Timer, keeping it very user-friendly. You’ll be presented with a normal calendar like you see on your phone, and then you click on a day to review or input your data. The app will allow you to have different tabs to log your meals, for example, on one tab, you’ll be able to log your exercise, what sort of exercise you’re doing that day, your water intake, your weight as well and any extra notes you might have as well. Within the food tab, for example, you can input a photo of the food you had, so if you had a particularly nice meal, then you could take a photo of it so you can then recall that for later, to be like, “Right, I want to make that again. It was really good. It kept me full, it kept me satiated, and I’m gonna recreate that dish.” And you could also potentially, in the notes section, rewrite your recipe, what steps you took towards that.

16:46: I often find writing down or vocalizing my thoughts is a really good way to keep myself accountable and also to understand how I’m feeling. If I’ve done a week, say, of different workouts and I’ve started to lower my calorie count and my carbs because I’m trying to lose some body fat for summer, I can write a little note to myself on each day about how I felt. Did I feel like I cut too many calories too quickly? Was I quite dialing low on energy for that day? And then I can then reflect on that for the next day or the next week, and be like, “Right, I need to slightly up my calorie count because that was too much of an extreme move too quickly,” for example. It just really helps you reflect on the different adaptations you’re making to your fitness routine, for example.

17:26: Within the app, you can also set alarms for yourself to remind yourself to go to workout or to remind yourself to have your meal or hydrate, or anything like that. If you’re very well prepared, you could also plot out your meals and exercise for the week, and within the app, you have the option to export the calendar in PDF format, and then you could use it as your own training plan. Again, that should keep you accountable, and you could get a massive cross off leading up to summer throughout the whole of May, one cross per day you’ve ticked off your training plan. Pin it on your fridge, so each day you get up, and it’s there looking at you in the face, keeping you accountable. Again, simplicity is the name of the game with Foodility, and it’s a very nice user-friendly app to help you with your fitness accountability this May, and perhaps even gradually introduce you to the world of tracking as you are, in a sense, tracking, just not to the same level of detail as apps like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt. As we all know, Shape are big fans of tracking, and we do believe it gets results. It can be tedious to input your food each day into an app, but what gets measured, gets managed, remember that.

18:23: Last up today, we have HowUdish. As we know, obviously, not everyone has time to cook their own healthy meals. On a busy schedule, during your lunch break, you can quite often find that you’ll hop to the equivalent of a fast-food establishment and consume food that’s only going to cause road bumps on the path to your summer physique or even if you go to a healthy establishment, they often neglect to provide nutritional information about what you’re about to consume. That makes it very hard for you to track or even subconsciously monitor the calorie intake that you’re having for the day. So, it makes it very, very difficult.

18:54: And that’s why HowUdish uses geolocation data to suggest healthy dishes that are tailored to your dietary requirements in your area. So you’ll start off by creating a profile and setting a dietary goal, and you’ll also input your current and weight targets, and then you’ll choose between one to three diets that determine the sorts of foods you’ll see on your map. And these can be having a low calorie food option or low carb, low fat, balanced, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, the list goes on because it will literally take into account the different restaurants in your area that have these different food options. There’s also a foodie option, so if you’re like me and you love all food, then you can explore all the available dishes in your area.

19:32: So when you see a dish you like on your layered map, it will have a little icon growing out of where it is on the map, you can swipe on the dish to save it in your personal database and also to find out its nutritional information. And you can also open the recipe for the dish in case you want to increase your repertoire and try it at home at a later date. What’s also cool is you can follow world-class athletes such as Brandon Marshall for example, who was an American football player who played for the Denver Broncos, he’s played for the Chicago Bears and also the Dolphins as well. Or you can potentially look at Cat Zingano, who is a professional mixed martial artist and each artist obviously has their own unique diet and that will help you understand, or you should follow really the athlete that most closely aligns with the diet you want to pursue. And you’ll be able to basically learn their dietary strategies and the way that they maintain a balanced lifestyle and an optimum physique as well. So when you swipe right on an athlete’s picture, if you have the premium subscription, you can then see which dishes they would opt for when they dine out, so you can replicate their behavior.

20:34: HowUdish is also multi-functional. So, sometimes instead of seeing a dish, you’ll see a person’s picture and this is designed to connect like-minded people who are focused on maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle. So you’ll be able to see whether they’re interested in dating or friendship. And then you can proceed to start a chat and this will allow you to really build up a network of individuals with similar interests as you, who want to go to the same restaurants as you, if they’re a foodie. So not only are you making steps to get in shape this May, but you’re also making new friends through HowUdish as well. And if you do feel like you deserve a reward sorry, there is a mode called Cheat Mode and this can be found in the filters section, and this allows you to obviously find the less healthy food that’s positioned within the app, but the filter section can be used and should be used this May for a different option to help you stick to a balanced diet, and you can use filters like cuisine type, search distance and showing the restaurants which are open at the time of day you’re looking for food. There are loads of other nifty options within the app and you can explore these, like for example, using an online delivery service platform to order the food in a streamlined fashion or for example, you can be alerted when there’s a deal on a particular meal you might have had in the past.

21:53: So really this is the perfect app for finding out about your local area, the local healthy options that restaurants offer in your area, and for people with a busy schedule, who are out and about, potentially exploring a new city this May and want to keep their diet in check. So this has been a round up of our favorite health and fitness apps of May. I strongly suggest you do consider some of these if you want to dial in your best form for the summer ahead and we really do hope that you enjoyed this very first episode of our favorite health and fitness app of the month. Because if you do enjoy it, we will start doing more of these and so leave us a review and a rating and maybe some commentary and we’ll be able to establish whether you’ve enjoyed this episode, and then we can keep doing it if you have. So really hope you enjoyed and we’ll see you next time.


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Lilla Laczo

Lilla is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
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