Not Motivated While Exercising? Try This Free App!

Fitocracy Fuses Workouts With Social Networking And Gaming Elements

Not Motivated While Exercising? Try This Free App!

Fitness-related apps aren't too uncommon these days, including those that list exercises to try, video tutorials on maximizing your workout, or letting you log your progress using the touchscreen.

Now, the folks behind the Fitocracy online fitness communityalready with more than a quarter of a million membershave launched an official iOS app that also folds in workout routines, social support, and video game-like mechanics, as a dangling carrot to keep you incented.

Free to download, sign up, and use, Fitocracy is designed to help you stay focused and motivated when it comes to your fitness goals.

After you sign in, you tap to select an exercise or routine from the long list of options. You can search (e.g. sit-ups or golf), browse by type (abs, back, legs, arms, full body, chest, etc.), or scroll up and down through the alphabetical listfrom Ab crunch machine to Zumba. Now you can select how long you're doing it for, number of reps, and, in some cases, intensity (light, moderate, high, etc.).

When you're done the workout, you will be rewarded with some points, such as 345 points for an hour-long aerobics class at moderate intensity.

Not only are all your workouts now logged for easy reference, but you can use those points to "level up," like a role-playing game (RPG), earn achievements and badges, and take on new quests. These achievements can be something like: "perform at least 5 pull-ups in a single set," or "perform a dumbbell bench press for at least a third of your bodyweight." Quests will earn you points, such as getting 300 points for "Bootcamp," which includes running at least 2 kilometres in one session, along with at least 40 push-ups, and at least 100 crunches.

Just like other social networking sites, Fitocracy allows you to add friends, join groups (to work collectively on points and challenges), chat, comment, follow and be followed, scan your news feed, and compare your results with others. All of this is handled within a clean and intuitive interface on the iPad. The app was designed for iPhone and iPod touch, however, so you'll want to tap the 2x button to expand the app to full screen on an iPad.

Another potential issue is that you don't really need to perform the exercises to gain the points and perform challenges. You can fake it by tapping "End Workout," without even starting it. But, it would defeat the purpose of this app as a motivational tool. Also, it would be a great idea if the app showed you how to perform new exercises, as well, via photos, videos, and text instructions.

Fitocracy is an idealand freeapp for those who might need some extra incentive to workout, or for fitness types who'd enjoy the interactive and game-like elements.


Golf App Offers Swing Analysis, Videos From Tiger Woods

Just in time for spring, this iPad download is ideal for golfers of all skill levels.

Golf App Offers Swing Analysis, Videos From Tiger Woods

Even a visionary like the late Steve Jobs probably didn't expect that the iPad could be used to capture and analyze a golfer's swing and compare it with Tiger Woods and others.

But this is precisely what you can do with Tiger Woods: My Swing HD ($9.99), a joint effort between Tiger Woods Foundation and developer Shotzoom.

This ambitious iPad app takes advantage of the tablet's rear camera to record your movements—from the back and side—and lets you pull up Tiger's same shot with the same club (e.g., 9 iron, 3 wood, etc.) to show stance and swing. Whoever is about to capture your swing will need to move closer or farther away to ensure you fit into the onscreen silhouette, before pressing record to capture the actions. You can also slow down the swing, trim the video, add voice or text notes, change between right- and left-handed and have stance "lines" drawn on, above and in front of the golfer.

You see, there are dozens of instructional HD videos that has Tiger demonstrate his swings, while talking to the camera at the same time. While explaining, a number of colored swing lines will appear on Tiger's body that shows what angles you should be standing and swinging at for optimal performance.

My father is an avid golfer so I used him as my subject to capture his swing. After saving the video, I pulled up Tiger's swing beside his and tapped to overlay the lines for both golfers to compare performance. The app can also analyze your swing—yes, it seems it's "all in the hips," as club pro Chubbs Peterson says in the film Happy Gilmore—as dotted and solid lines suggested my dad's backswing and follow-through needed a bit of work to obtain longer drives.

By capturing videos over time, you should see an improvement in your drives and putts, if Tiger's advice is taken into account.

The home screen for Tiger Woods: My Swing HD is broken into three main areas: Capture New Swing, Swing Library and Tiger Woods Videos.

The Swing Library breaks up videos as Unsaved Swings, Tiger's Swings, My Swings and Friend's Swings—with a large number for each section that indicates how many swings can be viewed, along with a thumbnail video image for each, too. This way, you can easy see all the swings at a glance and tap to watch, compare and analyze them.

The Tiger Woods Videos section begins with an intro from Tiger about what the app is all about. "I believe practice and analysis are the keys to improving your game; I directed the development of My Swing based on the routine I’ve used throughout my professional career," says Woods. "It provides instant feedback whether I’m playing a tournament or practicing at home. The app also includes all the tools necessary to analyze and break down your swing, and best of all you don’t need another set of eyes or expensive equipment to do it. I really hope fans enjoy it."

Along with multiple driving and putting videos, there's also a look into Tiger's golf bag, plus you can learn about the family connection behind Tiger's famous headcover and Tiger's connection to baseball.

All saved videos are stored on your free personal profile at Golfshot.com and you can view them on a computer at home or work (and perhaps get additional feedback from coaches and friends). New videos will be available over time, says the app developer.
Tiger Woods: My Swing ($4.99) is also available for iPhone and iPod touch.


Archive A Loved One's Life Story With New App

Hands-on with 'Record Their Stories' for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

Archive A Loved One's Life Story With New App

Everyone has a life story to tell—especially aging parents, grandparents or other relatives and friends you're fond of—and a new app lets you capture, preserve and enjoy these tales to ensure they're archived forever.

Simply called Record Their Stories, this $0.99-cent download for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch offers a simple way to record and edit stories or conversations.

This could be especially handy for iPad owners as the tablet doesn't include built-in software to record audio from the microphone.

While recording, you can call up more than 100 suggested questions—ranging from when and where you were born, earliest memory and questions about school to friends, neighbourhoods, first job, dates, marriage and children. Some might not be relevant ("What did you do in the war?), but these are simply recommended questions to start with. You can also write your own questions for future interviews, plus the app also has a Top 10 list of tips to conducting a good interview.

When you're done recording, you can edit the audio (trim, add, delete) and then share it through iTunes when your iPad is connected to your PC or Mac via a USB cable. This app doesn't let you email recorded audio clips. The interview can be as long as you like (providing you have enough capacity left on your device), plus the captured interview can be listened to on most smartphones, tablets, computers or MP3 players.
If you like, you can also upload your interview to be professionally edited and sent back to you; this optional service starts at $160 for two audio CDs (up to 30 minutes in length), labeling and a gift box.

It would be great if Record Their Stories would add a video recording and editing option in a future update—ideal for the iPad 2 and new iPad's front-and rear-facing cameras—but even as it stands now it's a great tool to immortalizing loved ones.