Let’s face it: working out isn’t always easy, especially if all you have to distract you is the sound of your own Darth Vader-ish breathing.
But don’t despair just yet. With your smartphone or music player at your side, there are countless fun ways to get motivated for your workout. Whether you’re looking for a personal trainer in your earbuds, some rocking tunes or a digital cheerleader, here are some fitness apps to get you more pumped for your workout than Schwarzenegger in the mid-90s.
1. MapMyRun, Basic: Free, MVP version: $5.99/mo or $29.99/yr
As one of the first running apps to hit the market, MapMyRun is still among the most popular out there, and for good reason.
As the name suggests, the app’s primary feature is in helping you map your run – a surprisingly difficult task on something like Google Maps. Choose from local runs that other people have mapped, or select your route segment by segment. The app will announce your mileage and time as you go so you’ll know if you’re meeting your benchmarks. With the MVP version, you also get access to heart rate analysis, training plans, mobile coaching, leader boards, and an in-app camera and music player, so you don’t have to pause your workout to access other apps to entertain you throughout your run.
More of a walker? Try MapMyRun’s sister app, named – you guessed it – MapMyWalk.
2. Pocket Yoga, $2.99
Yoga should be relaxing, but fighting traffic to get to a class? Not so much.
Forget the commute with Pocket Yoga, an app that provides over 150 pictures and descriptions of key poses. Not only does this app make learning at your own pace easy, but it also means you can practice yoga whenever you’ve got the time and inclination. If you’ve got a busy life, there’s nothing better than having instant access to a meditative workout.
3. Preva® Mobile App, Free
We weren’t about to leave our own fitness tracking app off the list.
If you’re looking for an app that captures your entire workout in a single go, the Preva mobile app is for you. Start by setting your fitness goals. Then track the duration, distance and calories burned during your workout so you can see how well you’re doing. Stay motivated by earning badges, points and bonuses. View video demos through QR codes, and track your progress directly on the screen of any piece of networked Precor fitness equipment. The app will even challenge you to reach the next fitness level, so you never plateau.
4. Zombies, Run!, $3.99
For even the most motivated of runners, there’s one thing that will get you running even faster: zombies.
You just try not to put a little more pep in the step when you’ve got the undead on your tail. With this app playing on your smart phone, your voice-narrated run will be converted into an action movie-worthy mission, with supplies to gather and fellow humans to save, all without falling prey to that legendary undead appetite. Good luck, hero!
5. Ghost Race, Free
This app might seem like the sister app to Zombies, Run!, but the “ghost” here isn’t so much a spirit with unfinished business as it is a virtual body you create before each run to compete against. The ghost is designed based on your distance, pace and time, though you can make changes to push yourself even harder. It’s especially motivating for competitive people, but if you really want that ghostly experience, you can always pair it with the Ghostbusters soundtrack.
6. PumpUp, Free with in-app purchases available
While this app is sadly lacking in Arnold, it is an excellent way to… Pump. You. Up.
Kind of like Pocket Yoga, PumpUp comes with exercise animations that play on repeat. It’s easy to set up and navigate (the app actually asks you what equipment you’re using rather than assuming you’ve got yourself a full home gym) and you can also track various elements of your workout.
7. FitStar – Free
Personal training is a great way to build a fitness routine specifically to suit your unique needs. But the price tag? Not quite as great.
FitStar, on the other hand, gives you free access to just-retired Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who helps take you through a wide variety of video routines that can be personalized so that they’re just what you need. There are plenty of achievements along the way and social pressure too, so you’ll be far more likely to stay accountable.
8. Lose It, Free with in-app purchases available
To really realize the results you’re looking for, it’s important to pair a challenging workout routine with good nutrition.
Lose It blends the two with a joint workout journal and food diary. In the workout journal, it’s easy to track each individual exercise along with calories burned and nutrition added. The food diary lists most common foods and brands along with calorie amounts, so you can see how it’s all lining up. You can even see how much weight you’re losing through handy graphs.
9. 7 Minute Workout, Free
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend sweating it out, the 7 minute workout is the speedy solution for you. Featuring 12 high intensity exercises of 30 seconds each, you can also watch video demos to make sure you’re getting it right. Plus there’s a voice to guide you through, so you won’t have to toggle between your super intense workout and your smartphone screen.
10. Pact, Free
It doesn’t take a fitness guru to realize that fitness goals are more likely to be met when you’re made accountable to someone. With Pact, you’ll pledge a certain amount of money to pay to other members if you don’t meet your goals. And when you do meet yours, you’ll get a cash reward–paid, ahem, by all of those members not meeting their goals. No (financial) pain, no gain!