Working out at home, at your pace, at the right intensity level for you, has never been easier with mobile apps for exercising. The Sworkit Pro iPhone app (99 cents; also available for Android) has a great selection of workouts, and it lets you create custom workouts, but when compared to the competition, it comes up a little short. It’s a fine solution for squeezing in a quick strengthening, cardio, or stretching session, or getting you to sweat for a full hour if you prefer, but other apps offer a lot more convenience.
I tried a quick five-minute total body workout with Sworkit Pro, with audio cues enabled, which wasn’t bad. The app had me do 30 seconds each of jumping jacks, quadraplex, elevated crunches, supermans, and a handful of other moves (the complete list of included exercises and video demos are both in the app and online). By default, there’s no time interval between moves, and I found it was taking me anywhere from four to eight seconds to look at the screen, understand the next move, and get into position to start doing it. For my next workout, I changed the settings to add a “transition pause,” although the app doesn’t save that setting for all future workouts. You have to enable it each time you start a new routine. I’d rather see a transition pause added by default, and saved as a permanent setting.
There’s also a free version of Sworkit that comes with some limitations, and in that app you can simply turn on a four-second “transition pause,” whereas in the Pro version, you can adjust the number of seconds to be whatever you want. Sworkit Pro also lets you adjust the rest breaks (longer rests that come up every few minutes between sets), frequency of rest breaks, and length of exercise (30 seconds by default).
If you prefer to work out based on number of reps and sets, Sworkit is probably not the app for you, as it only offers sets by time, similar to the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout App (free). The GAIN Fitness app (free to download; in-app purchases optional), on the other hand, uses reps rather than time for applicable moves, which I prefer. GAIN also announces each move and shows an animation of it on screen as you work through your routine. The Johnson & Johnson app has an on-screen animation, too, and talks you through executing the move, so you get both audio and visual coaching. The audio walkthroughs could get boring if you master all the moves in the app, but there are so many of them that you’d have to work out very consistently over a number of weeks to reach that point.
In any event, I like having the animation on screen to help me figure out what I’m supposed to do quickly. With Sworkit, if you don’t know, you have to open a video to learn the move, which requires the Internet. That method keeps the size of the app small (14.6MB, compared with Johnson & Johnson’s 125MB), but it adds an inconvenience, especially if you’re in an area with no Wi-Fi or phone signal and can’t get the video.
I also ran through a ten-minute stretching routine in the Sworkit Pro app, and the audio feature had turned itself off. Grr. I checked the settings to find that indeed, it was still enabled, but it was no longer working. I toggled it off and on, closed out of the settings, and repeated those steps a few times with no luck. The feature may be buggy or broken, but in any event, once audio coaching is enabled, it should stay enabled as a permanent setting, the same way I’d like the transition breaks to be a permanent setting.
You can create custom workouts with Sworkit Pro, drawing from its bank of exercises, but that’s a basic feature in almost every workout app on the market. And while Sworkit gives you the ability to customize a number of features of the app, it doesn’t have any automatic ability to adjust to your fitness level, which is rough for beginners who can’t do, say, spiderman pushups yet. Johnson & Johnson’s 7 Minute Workout app has a one-to-five scale where you tell it how capable you are, and it gives you only exercises that will be appropriate.
Sworkit Pro has a great range of exercises, but in terms of app features, it isn’t as thorough or convenient to use other apps on the market.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc