The best apps to stay fit, recommended by a personal trainer
When it comes to training clients with ease and keeping fit, these are the six must-have downloadable apps that personal trainers swear by.
These apps help trainers properly fuel their bodies for their goals, program and track client fitness plans and food intake, and keep workout sessions fresh and engaging.
MyFitnessPal is arguably one of the most important apps out there for personal trainers, as it helps keep themselves, and their clients, on track.
You've likely heard it before — nutrition informs 80% of our results. MyFitnessPal allows trainers and their clients to track macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) as well as calorie intake.
When tasked with a specific fat loss or muscle gain goal, consistency is key.
A trainer worth his or her salt has a degree or certification in nutrition to supplement training sessions, allowing them to safely program nutrition plans for their clients. Using MyFitnessPal, trainers can keep an eye on the daily macronutrient and calorie intake of their clients, ensuring that they are making consistent progress to hit their goals.
MyFitnessPal also has a learning algorithm where it recalls food and recipe repetitions, prompting the user to save foods that are used often for a quick add option.
Howuse the food tracking feature on MyFitnessPal
- Open the app
- Type in the food you are about to eat
- Input the correct and exact portion size
- Tap on the macronutrient page to see the protein, fat, and carb numbers for the food
- Continue throughout the day until daily goal is met
Personal trainers with nutrition certifications should, at the very least, offer their clients a broad nutritional "plan" — whether that be macronutrient-focused, calorie-focused, or both.
For example, for a bodybuilding client, I use a macronutrient and calorie-focused plan to ensure she is hitting her goals for the day — especially protein.
Since most of her time is spent in the gym breaking down tissue to build her back up through muscle growth (hypertrophy), it is important that she eats enough protein, the muscle-repairing macronutrient that properly fuels each session, and compositional goals.
The $19.99 monthly subscription allows users to scan the barcodes of their foods for easy tracking. The free version works just as well, but the user must manually input the brand name of their foods and portion size (either by weight or in cups).
At the end of the day, trainers and clients will be able to see if they have hit their nutritional goals.
Take note: MyFitnessPal is not for the lazy tracker. It might seem tedious to track every morsel, but the biggest downfall for most individuals looking to get fit is that they are underestimating the calorie content in the portion sizes that they are eating.
MyFitnessPal is free from the App Store, and offers a monthly premium subscription for $19.99. It is 146.9 MB and is compatible with iOS 14 and later releases.
SecondsPro is an excellent app for those who enjoy working out via high-intensity interval training (or Tabata) fitness modalities. Trainers are able to program their workouts for themselves and clients, merely having to hit play to have the app read out the exercises, duration, and sets in real time.
This is an exceptional tool for trainers who go the extra mile to give their clients homework to do on their own.
Trainers can build workouts through the app and can easily send these individualized workouts to their clients. All the client must do is save the workout to their own SecondsPro app and then hit play when they are ready to complete the workout.
Only the $4.99 one-time subscription allows the trainer and recipient to send and save programmed workouts. This small fee is well worth it, as clients can be kept accountable with their trainer's individualized workouts.
SecondsPro is available for purchase from the App Store for a one-time fee of $4.99. It is 96.6 MB and is compatible with iOS14 or later.
Apple Health is a useful app for all trainers and clients, primarily for the steps and move functions. For clients training for a race, for example, keeping a record of weekly tracked mileage is important.
It is recommended that all Americans get 10,000 steps per day. With the app, this makes it easier to see how close we are to reaching our step goal.
The app also tells us if our headphone volume is consistently too high, and if we might be at risk for a future fall due to an uneven stride when walking around, among other things.
Apple Health is free, and is on the iPhone as part of iOS itself.
MapMyRun is a fantastic workout-tracking tool for clients and trainers alike. No matter the workout modality, MapMyRun tracks the duration, mileage, and calorie burn of the workout.
It is a particularly great app for runs with mileage or time goals. For example, if you decide you are ready to tackle a five-mile jog, the app will alert you whenever you've reached the next mile.
Paying for the monthly $5.99 MVP version gives clients the ability to be coached on their runs, bike rides, or hikes after setting mileage and duration goals. Clients can share these workouts with trainers as proof that they have completed their workout homework.
Note that the projected calorie burn is not completely reliable. For example, a stair run workout might burn upwards of 1,000 calories in the app per hour, but this does not account for any breaks, either standing or walking, that the user might take during the activity.
MapMyRun is available for free from the App Store, but the premium MVP version is available for purchase at $5.99. It is 283.9 MB and is compatible with devices running iOS 13 or later.
YouTube is a great tool for trainers, if they use it wisely and with discretion, to find new fitness programming material for their clients. It is also a fantastic tool for those who would like to embark on their fitness journeys but do not want to hire a personal trainer at first.
The mark of a good trainer is someone who keeps their clients on their toes, switching up workouts with progressive overload in mind to keep clients engaged and excited about their workout routines.
It is important that trainers first ensure that the content borrowed from YouTubers' videos is credentialed workout material. For emulation, it is important that proper form and exercise selection is taken into account — especially if you are participating in a YouTube workout with no supervision or prior fitness coaching experience.
Take caution, too, when heeding nutritional advice from "bro science" instead of guidance backed by qualified professionals. It is up to the trainer's discretion whether the advice and workout ideas given are safe and applicable to their own client's goals.
Conversely, YouTube is a great resource to learn what "not" to do. Once you see what other trainers are doing, you will be able to orient yourself within the fitness sphere, finding your edge or "niche," learning what does and doesn't work for you personally as a trainer.
Often, when I feel my kickboxing or personal training material is getting stale, I use YouTube as a resource for creative inspiration. Client retention is contingent on client happiness, so it is important to keep workouts fun, fresh, and safe.
For fun, free HIIT workouts, check out the YouTube channel growingannanas.
YouTube is available from the App Store for free and has ad-supported viewing, though YouTube Premium is also available for $11.99 per month. It is compatible with iOS 14 or later, and is a 298.4 MB download.
The Trainerize app is the perfect app for personal trainers looking to keep track of client progress. The app allows trainers to devise fitness training programs, track meal plans, and communicate in real time.
The app is perfect for the post-COVID shift in the fitness sphere from in-person to remote training, allowing trainers to keep track of their clients online — all in one place.
Clients can view workouts their trainers have created and scheduled for them, track their stats, take and log progress photos, and launch resting timers, all from the iPhone.
The subscription fees for trainers vary depending on the number of clients they have. For a single client, it is free, but the Grow plan allows trainers to have two clients on the app for $4.50 per month.
The Pro Plan is $18 per month for up to 5 clients. If you're in high demand, a Studio Plan supports 30 clients for $54 per month, or you can pay $270 per month to handle an unlimited number of clients via the app.
Trainerize is compatible with iOS 11 or later and is a 536.4 MB download.