The health and fitness section of Apple’s iTunes app store has hundreds of apps to aide workouts, ranging from Nike Training Club that simulates a personal trainer to MapMyRun, which has a GPS camera and logs the miles a user has completed, among other features.
With these workout and personal trainer aides available at everyone’s fingertips, do people still want to spend the time and money to go to the gym? According to Lori Patterson, a certified personal trainer who trained soldiers while serving in the U.S. Army, the answer is yes. In March, Patterson launched The Boot Camp Challenge mobile app, designed for users to either supplement a workout in a gym or use on its own.
“When I was doing research before creating my own app, it was a question I had,” Patterson says. “What I found was many apps were meant to supplement a workout.”
Patterson, whose app has been named an iTunes App Essential, says numbers in her boot camp have risen since her app was released, although she adds it is not clear that the app was the main reason for the increase. Apps such as Patterson’s may help bridge a gap for users who are not comfortable in a gym. The app can be a platform for them to start an exercise routine and gain confidence, she says.
“The app was created for those who don’t have the courage to go the gym,” Patterson says. “They can work out at their own pace and hopefully gain the courage to later go to the gym.”
The effectiveness of having a virtual personal trainer might still be debated, but mobile apps can help members with their workouts between training sessions. Apps can track users’ workouts so their personal trainer can validate that clients are understanding and keeping up with workouts.
Clubs may want to create their own mobile apps to attract these members, and as Club Industry reported in April, the cost to create those apps varies. Joe Martello, a business development manager at Bottega Sol, Chicago, said that many apps can cost anywhere from $55,000 to $150,000, depending on the complexity of an app. Casey Conrad, president of Communications Consultants, said apps can be created for as little $500.
Scott Gerold, COO of Rapid Fitness, Raleigh, NC, is working with JEFIT, Cary, NC, to create an app that would be used to help supplement workouts. JEFIT is a workout and bodybuilding app that allows users to log workouts, create routines and track body statistics.
Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, San Diego, says fitness professionals should not shy away from new technology. Professionals in the industry can work with mobile apps, she adds, to help promote new programs or encourage people to join a gym.
“We’re seeing these mobile apps really starting to encourage people who aren’t physically active to become physically active,” Matthews says.