Turn Your Smartphone into a Fitness Device (I)

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The Olympics are starting this week and by the time they are over, quite a few of us will actually be inspired to get off the couch and get active again; but where to begin? That depends on your goals. Are you trying to be buff, or are you just going for fitness, aesthetics be damned?

The two aren’t mutually exclusive, and indeed in an ideal world you should pair strength and cardio training in your fitness regime. However, the reality is that it’s not always easy.

Image: fitpregnancy.com
Image: fitpregnancy.com

Despite the burgeoning #Fitfam movement in Nigeria and across the African continent, gyms are still pretty big luxuries in often requiring a large financial commitment that puts many young Africans off.

You could get your own home gym, but it’s also pretty expensive, and you then have to worry about space, safety and maintenance.

So what to do? The Solution is in the palm of your hand; your Smartphone.

Most young, professional Africans have a smartphone now. It might not be the latest Apple or Samsung super-device, but the proliferation of brands like Tecno, Innjoo and Infinix have made decent smartphones obtainable for the common man.

There are a lot of fitness apps out there, that will help you meet your fitness goals. Let’s look at some of them.


Zombies, Run

fitness app - zombies run

Let’s face it, we all find it hard to get out of bed, or off the couch, put on our running shoes and head out for a run. Running can be terribly monotonous, even with a partner.

You usually do the same routes each run, or sometimes depending on length, multiple times a run. It’s a grind, one that most people don’t really look forward to, no matter their fitness levels.

What if though you were running for a reason? What if there was a story behind your running? What if it was a matter of life and death?

What if instead of just doing your regular morning jog, you’re actually a courier collecting supplies and medicine for your community during a Zombie Apocalypse.


What’s it all about?

Zombies, Run is an exergame- an exercise video game you play on your smartphone. It is very simple to use. You simply open the app, select your mission and start running while the game prompts you to run, or run faster because there are zombies chasing you.

Underpinning it is a gripping story that plays out over the 400 or so missions developed so far. If you like shows like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, you’ll definitely enjoy this story. It gives you a reason to put on your trainers, if only to hear the next instalment of the story.

How much does it cost?

The game used to cost about $5, but is now free to play with in-app upgrades. The developer Six to Start has other similar fitness games that you can check out if Zombies aren’t your thing, but really, Zombies, Run is their most famous and still the best.


Various Couch to 5K apps


get running fitness app

Couch to 5k (C25K) is a running programme designed to help you go from zero fitness, to running 5 km in 9 weeks.

Each session you’ll do a series of short runs interspersed with walking breaks. The time spent running increases each week slowly building up your endurance. It actually helps you make progress.

There are many apps- both free and paid- in the various app stores. There’s a Zombies, Run 5k trainer, but I am pretty underwhelmed by it as it’s a bit fiddly with playing your music. Instead I use an app called Get Running, which is simple, encouraging and let’s me play both music and podcasts with ease. Both are paid apps costing between $2-3 each.

There are also tons of free apps and plans that you can download including ones from the UK National Health Service, and the BBC.




my fitness pal

Exercise is not enough, you also need to look at your diet and lifestyle. Myfitnesspal is a great calorie counter and general virtual fitness buddy. It helps you practice portion control, tells you how much you need to eat to reach your goal weight.

With its vibrant blogs and forums offers tons of advice on healthy low-calorie meals, useful workouts and how to generally live a healthier fitter, fitter life. It also helps you log your workouts and water intake. Its food database is one of the best out there with even Nigerian and African dishes in there.

If you’re serious about being accountable to yourself in your fitness journey, you owe it to yourself to download this app.

Stay tuned next week for more fitness apps.




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