Working out with apps

So the holiday parties have started and you're already feeling that extra layer of "warmth" around your waistline. What do you do about it? More and more people are turning to phone apps instead of personal trainers to keep the holiday pounds at bay.

"I had historically not trained with anything," says Teri Kelly, a mother of two from Phoenix who has completed eight triathalons. "I use apps all the time now. You can track your distance or your average speed. It also tracks your calorie burn. You program your weight and size and it calculates that for you."

Kelly says she will even post her work out results on Facebook, and getting feedback from her friends is part of the fun.

"I'll put my time or location in my status and I'll be amazed at how many people have either run that route, or want to tell me their time," she says.

"People with iPhones are six times more likely to share their day-to-day activities than those without," says Kris Wagner of GPS phone apps developer Trimble Outdoors. "There's an app called AllSport GPS that works with 200 different phones. I'm a cyclist so I use it to track my rides -- it collects 25 different stats- and courses on a map as you go. It will compare it to other rides you've done."

"I use Runmeter by Abvio on my iPhone to track my runs," says Kathy Axe Benson of Chicago. "It uses GPS to map my runs and keeps track of my mileage, current pace, and average pace throughout my run. I can save specific routes and name them and the next time I run those routes it will tell me if I'm ahead or behind my fastest times. I find that information interesting and motivating."

Workout apps can range in price from $2.99 for WalkJogRun to $9.99 for the Allsport GPS, but Wagner says that higher price tag is because you're joining a community of other fitness enthusiasts.

"Some apps are individually focused or only for one type of workout, and others are more interactive and cover a variety of different sports," Wagner explains. "With Allsport GPS, people often store and analyze their workouts over time. They can compare their runs or bike routes. Say you have a favorite spot -- the shoreline on Lake Michigan -- you ran it in 30 minutes one time, and you can track progress of how long it takes the next time. You can have a 'virtual' race with other runners or bikers as well on different courses."

And while a busy mom like Kelly says her app helps her stay connected to her fitness friends, she also finds the information supplied by an app will get her kids interested in exercise. "My children are 7 and 10, and they're training for a kid triathalon right now," she explains. "We use the apps for that because it's a great way to keep track of what you've done in a week, whether you're walking your dog, going around the block in the cold weather, or going on a hike."

But to some, that's just too complicated. "There's such a thing as 'too much information' when it comes to these work out toys on the phone," says John Bensman of Chicago. "I work out to unplug from the world, not so people can plug me in. I don't need to know my weight when I start, and I don't care if my neighbor just ran the same trail last week. I like to run just to run, or bike just to bike."

Do you use an app to get motivated?

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