I HATE EXERCISE. With a passion. I lost my gym virginity midway through freshman year (yes, of college). I haven’t played a sport since 6th grade. I don’t even own a bike! But today, after a lot of finals stress eating, I decided that I needed to get in shape and what a more Stanford appropriate way to do so than testing out a couple of workout apps…

I plan on taking 3 for a test run, and reporting back to you on my favourite. Cute sports bra? Check. Work Out Pandora station? Check.  Safe from humiliation at home? Check. Will to exercise? … Not really, but check.

FITNESS POINT- Before I even open Fitness Point, the icon is a silhouette of an Arnold-Schwarzenegger-like man curling his biceps in fitness competition fashion. Although it’s a nice feature to be able to pick which muscle group you want to work, I’m already frightened by the giant Frankenstein figures with muscly veiny shoulders, back, legs and an 8-pack abdomen that have been so carefully placed next to the text. The user interface seems less than aesthetically pleasing, but I decide to dive a little deeper, and concentrate on the effectiveness of the app. Amongst “muscle groups” I pick the workout that seems the least painful (which doesn’t leave much) I decide on chest.

Looking through the exercises, I find that almost all require a use of a gym, making it more impractical. As a beginner, I haven’t learned how to operate gym equipment, and the lack of instruction on the app is discouraging.. Could someone please explain what a “Reverse Grip Incline Smith Machine Bench Press” is? Why don’t they ask me to do a Triple Sow Cow while they’re at it? After I’m done, even though I’ve entered my stats (biceps: embarrassingly small), it doesn’t say how I will grow in those areas or offer suggestions for gaining muscle mass there.

Fitness Point, however, does offer moving visuals, which pinpoint the muscles I’ll be working, and walks me through each of the steps, along with tips to get the most out of my workout. What’s cool is that you don’t have to have a standard workout, but rather you can keep a log of the exercises you do, all neatly organized into a daily and monthly calendar. Then you can easily send off your progress report with a click, presumably to a personal trainer.

But looking at the Extras page, you have to pay a hefty fee for personal workouts, “Ultimate Fat Burner Exercises” and other expensive features. DELETE. If I had to give one good criticism, I would say I burned about 5 calories scrolling down the pages with my thumb.

7 MINUTE CHALLENGE- Sounds right up my alley! Apparently, this packs the equivalent of an hour’s workout into 420 short seconds. Then comes the catch: it must be high intensity. Before I have time to register what I’m supposed to be doing, a man begins counting down, in my ear, and shouts “Jumping Jacks!” Even though the exercise only lasts about 30 seconds, this turns out to be the longest 30 seconds of my life. And only 10 seconds of rest in between. I try to catch my breath, but the little man (who I’ve now decided is Satan) yells “Wall Sit” and I struggle to keep up. By the fourth minute, I look like a Ted Striker from Airplane!, so I decided to take a break. 

Objectively speaking, the app does offer a full body workout, hitting various muscle groups through exercises that have been proven to burn fat, and increase metabolism. You can even view the expert research in the app itself.  It also offers video instruction and audio  “encouragement” from either a male or female, your choice. While taking my rest, I come to realize that it gives me keys to success and motivation by tracking and recording my results through a line graph for long period progress.

Although I thought I’d be happy that my workout was less than 10 minutes, I’m sitting here feeling like I didn’t really accomplish anything. Back to the App Store. 7 minutes in heaven? More like 7 minutes in hell.

PUMP UP- As soon as I sign up, I’m introduced to Pat, the blue Pump Up mascot, welcoming me to the Pump Up family - I feel so honored! I scroll down to see an Instagram-esque page, showcasing fitness Transformation Tuesdays and other posts of uber healthy foods and inspiring weight loss stories.. I quickly learn that this is a social fitness app,  motivating your progress by a positive community; as opposed to the 7 Minute Challenge, which was more like having a personal trainer in your pocket, Pump Up feels like you’re working out with your friends. Meal posting, fitness tracking, and goal sharing are just some of the things you can do on the app. You can post photos of your gains (a new term I learned), but don’t expect a ton of likes. I suggest taking a peek at more popular users - their posts are usually pretty informative on getting the most out of Pump Up, and answer any inquiries you have.

Finally, something customizable- You can build your own workout, based on your goals. I’d like to lose weight. Fitness level: beginner a.k.a. I average less than two workouts a week. Duration: seeing as I actually have to give an attempt, I’ll put in 30 minutes. After choosing a few more options, such as focus area and location, I’m ready to begin.  Pump Up gives me the full routine before I even start, showing me moving visuals, as well as explaining to me how to properly execute and tips for getting more out of the workout. Different from Fitness Point, I don’t choose the exercises I do, something that forces me to do something more difficult like push-ups and burpees. In between circuits, I get a heavenly break of 3 minutes and have almost no trouble finishing the workout..  Out of lower, middle, and upper body, I chose to concentrate on my core and already I can feel the burn in my abs. What I also loved is that you can save all your workouts for future reference, and it tells you how many calories you burned in the process. Now if only someone could create weight loss by sitting on your ass…

THE VERDICT

Pump Up! 

Fitness Point was too centric togetting swole and it turns out no, I don’t even lift, bro. The 7 Minute Challenge was a little too intense and didn’t leave me enough time to procrastinate from doing work. If I’m going to work out, it has to be at least 20 minutes, so the guilt can set in from not doing something that I should be.  What won me over about Pump Up was that it built the workout around my wants and needs (I have a lot of them) and it built a bond with a community of other people with similar goals. From this trial run, I learned that exercise can actually be fun, and I enjoy working out better with others. With that said, who wants to Pump Up with me? ;)

By: Lauren Motown Phillips