Fitness apps aim to bring the gym experience anywhere: your bedroom, hotel room, or in a park. Choose a workout, listen to the cues, and then follow the video.
I’ve been using six fitness apps from California developer Azumio for over a year. Do they fulfill their promise?
I used the following:
- Instant Abs (iOS links but Android equivalent exists)
- Instant Arms
- Instant Shoulders
- Instant Butt
- Chest Trainer
- Instant Legs
- Instant Back
Here’s the process for each:
- You choose from a variety of workouts. They are divided mostly in Easy, Medium and Hard. Depending on the targeted muscle, you can also choose between dumbbells or bodyweight, a great option for those who are stuck in a hotel room. Workouts are between 6 to 15 minutes, and are composed of exercises divided by rest periods.
- Once you choose a workout, the app offers you to guess your heart rate with the camera and LED. This is to calculate total calories for the exercise, based on your weight, age, and final heart rate. I dismissed this since weight loss is 99% in the kitchen and strength training is not about calorie tracking in my opinion. I also have a Garmin Fenix 3 HR which already tracks calories.
- A workout starts. For each exercise, you have 10 seconds to view the number of sets, the number of repetitions, name of exercise. There’s also a progress bar at the bottom. Most importantly, there’s a step by step animation. This is good to correct form, and also keep up with the rhythm.
- If you don’t like an exercise, you can skip it at the top. Alternatively, you can go back to the previous exercise, if you’ve missed it.
- When a workout ends (bravo!), it offers you to go pro ($) and share the achievement on social networks.
- Each workout is logged in a calendar. I found this useful later on to see if you’ve missed a workout
I find the exercises diverse, complete each other and are very well produced. The instructions are helpful. You will also discover new interesting excercises. Overall, production quality is excellent and this makes these one of the best fitness applications available. You are not exhausted at the end (they only last ~10 minutes or so) but it is enough to overload targeted muscles and solicit a response.
Why You should Get Them
If you ever felt overwhelmed by the diversity and quantity of gear, machines and weights in a gym, these fitness apps are made for you. Their step by step animations will show you how to do correctly exercises. You can pause, skip or review exercises at your heart’s content. This is like taking cues from a professional fitness trainer! No need to skim through hundreds of Youtube videos anymore.
If you have to travel for weeks and felt low energy, these are made for you. Most exercises don’t require any equipment and take between six and fifteen minutes. You can squeeze them between waking-up and shower in your hotel room, in a resting area, practically anywhere. They will get your heart pumping and get your weekly dose of minimum exercise.
If you don’t have a budget and all you can afford are cheap dumbbells, then these are also made for you. The apps I reviewed are free. It will allow you to start your fitness journey with no investment required. You will be free to invest more money in a gym membership, a fitness coach or fitness gear later on, but the apps are more than enough to begin with.
If gyms are hostile environments for you, these are also made for you. When entering a gym for the first time, all you can see are buff guys with 12% body fat grunting and making lots of noises. This can be intimidating. If you prefer to do things in your own way, these fitness apps are a great way to start.
Why The Apps Are Confusing
So why six different apps?
By searching, it turns out that Azumio has an application titled “Instant Fitness” which regroups workouts found in the six different apps. And on their website, they advertise an app named “Fitness Buddy”.
This was confusing to me. I understand the “solo” instant apps are marketing tools for the company to generate leads and paying subscribers for the main apps. The paying ticket is $3 for Instant Fitness and $30/year for Fitness Buddy. But if you search for “fitness” or “legs workout” on the app store, the other solo apps appear first. And what’s the difference between Instant Fitness and Fitness Buddy?
I’m sure you can’t make it more puzzling!
I decided not to play the confusing marketing game, and kept the free versions instead. You get nagging popups, before and after the workouts, but hey, it’s free, and I am at peace.
Another confusion comes from the fact that the damn app doesn’t know what you are doing in real life. You might be on the phone, watching TV, dancing but it will still continue to count 1 to 10 in its monotonous voice. It will then congratulate you after reaching 10, no matter you did a great job or you completely missed it.
There is a danger here from beginners who don’t know how to do exercises but are given positive reinforcements on their mistakes. If your fitness is excellent, you might also be frustrated by the slow speed and lack of customization. I wanted for instance to have a Tabata-style workout, with quick burpees and squats but the app wouldn’t let me do those.
An ideal app would use a wearable like an Apple Watch or a Garmin to count reps thanks to accelerometers. Any developers working on this?
My final issue with these applications is the lack of direction. I wrote how important it is to figure out your goal before undertaking any training. The app needs to ask you at the beginning what is your goal, but alas, it doesn’t! This means most users will pick exercises for the sake of exercises and accumulating reps, and not without any strength goal, specific endurance or other goal in mind.
I was a fan of the Azumio fitness apps a year ago. Instructions are quite clear and easy. However, they are badly structured and the developers shove their popups under your nose at any chance they get. Now, I seldom use them.
If you are starting out or want a quick workout, try out the Azumio apps. Otherwise, I would recommend finding a good fitness coach to design a workout for you that you can follow and will help you in your goals.