Top 5 Free Fitness Apps to Help You Get in Shape

By Raechel Conover, Cheapism.com

It's the New Year and a chance for a new you - all without spending loads of cash. Instead of investing in a hefty new gym fee, try working out on your own with the help of some handy free fitness apps. We scoured the web and came up with our top five favorite fitness apps to help get your new year's resolution off on the right foot.

Get into shape with these five cheap fitness apps.

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1. Runtastic. Primarily a running app but also good for biking and other indoor/outdoor distance activities, this fitness app has a built-in GPS that tracks your route and progress along the way. You'll get read-outs for distance, time, speed, pace, calories burned, and more. The popular running app makes it especially easy to analyze your progress daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, and to share those results with others.
Pros and Cons: Blackberry users who reviewed Runtastic at the Blackberry App World store say it's very useful for serious training and several claim it's the best free running app. That said, several users logging on with a Windows Phone or an iPhone report problems with the running app loading correctly or crashing once loaded.
Cost: Free
Availability: Android, Blackberry, iPhone, and Windows Phone

2. Strava Cycling. Available as an iPhone or Android fitness app, Strava has both a cycling and a running app, with the former proving far more popular. The cycling-specific fitness app lets cyclists track their rides, distance, speed, elevation, calories burned, heart rate, and cadence (when wearing a sensor, this app is compatible with Bluetooth sensors). The fitness app also helps training athletes to set and achieve goals, analyze rides and records, and compete with friends and fellow athletes.
Pros and Cons: Users who reviewed the iPhone fitness app in the iTunes store give it a solid five-star rating; one fitness enthusiast says that seeing the effort exerted along specific segments of a route is useful when training. Users both there and at the Google Play store report that the app is very accurate.
Cost: Free
Availability: Android and iPhone

3. Endomondo. This fitness app is readily available to smartphone users and has garnered more than 104,000 reviews in the Android Google Play store. Endomondo uses a built-in GPS that tracks distance workouts and also lets you enter workouts, such as weight training, manually. Additionally, the fitness app links you to social networks, plays motivational messages from friends, and keeps track of your music playlist for every workout. It's compatible with various heart-rate monitors to help you track even more stats.
Pros and Cons: Most reviewers in the Google Play store rave about this popular Android fitness app and award it 4.6 stars. Users say it's user-friendly and several remark that it's the best free GPS available. And yet, as with most apps, some users have encountered roadblocks, particularly when trying to sync a workout with Facebook after the fact.
Cost: Free
Availability: Android, Blackberry, iPhone, and Windows Phone

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4. RunKeeper. Running apps seem to be the most popular type of fitness app on the market, and RunKeeper fits the mold. RunKeeper stands out from the crowd with training plans designed to help you train for a 5k or to run for weight loss, among other goals. With a built-in GPS and heart-rate monitor compatibility, you can track routes, analyze statistics, and compare progress. The running app also lets you control workout music, take pictures to share along the route, and communicate through several social networks.
Pros and Cons: User reviewers at both the iTunes and Google Play stores like the running app, although some iPhone users are unhappy with the newest version, citing problems such as a faulty GPS and colors on the screen. Most, however, are generally satisfied and one user reports at Google Play that this free fitness app is better than the gym because it serves as a personal trainer, with built-in training programs and motivational progress reports throughout the workout.
Cost: Free
Availability: Android and iPhone

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5. Skimble: Workout Trainer. A well-rounded fitness app that helps you meet your fitness goals regardless of the chosen workout, Skimble: Workout Trainer features many workout styles, from yoga to weight lifting to running, with a special emphasis on workouts without the use of equipment. There are thousands of workouts to choose among, such as P90X- and CrossFit-type workouts and at-home weight training, that come with audio, video, and photo instructions.
Pros and Cons: One user of the iPhone fitness app reports gains that outstrip what she would have attained with a personal trainer or attendance at a gym. As is often the case with apps, users also mention minor irritations, with most of the negative comments focused on the small fee assessed for some of the workouts (the Pro version starts at 83 cents a month plus a $9.99 initiation fee). Still, we found many free workouts to choose among.
Cost: Free
Availability: Android and iPhone

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We identified two fitness apps that deserve honorable mention. Pocket Yoga is a very popular paid fitness app available for Blackberry ($3.99), iPhone ($2.99), and Android ($2.99) users. It offers 27 different sessions spanning three levels, practices, and durations. Just place your smartphone on the yoga mat and Pocket Yoga guides you through each session. Users who posted at iTunes and the Google Play store crow about this fitness app, calling it the best yoga app on the market because it's easy to use, the transitions are detailed, and the pictures provide an excellent visual description of the various yoga positions.

One fitness app that fell just short of the top five is the Nike Training Club (NTC) app. Free and available for Android and iPhone users, it boasts more than 114 custom-built workouts that last 30 to 45 minutes. It didn't score high enough with users to secure a berth on our list, the most common complaint being that it seems targeted to women, with female voice-overs and workouts suited to the female body.

Top 5 Free Fitness Apps
Fitness apps Notable Features iTunes rank Google Play (Android) rank Black-berry rank Windows Phone
1. Runtastic (iPhone, Android, Windows phone, BlackBerry) Works with any distance sport; built-in GPS, distance tracking, time, speed, pace, calories, and tracks progress along regular routes. Ability to analyze progress over days or weeks. Social-media-sharing access. 5 stars current version; 4.5 stars all versions 4.6 stars 4 stars 4.5 stars
2. Strava Cycling (iPhone, Android; both must use GPS device) Specifically for cyclists. Works Compatible with with heart-rate monitor. Tracks rides, distance, speeds, elevation, cadence, calories burned, and heart rate. Allows goal setting. 5 stars current version; 5 stars all versions 4.6 stars

3. Endomondo (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows phone w/built- in GPS) Good for any type workout; tracks distance or stats for other activites, compatible with various heart-rate monitors. Tracks workout playlists and plays motivational messages. Links to social media. 4.5 stars all versions; not enough data on new version 4.6 stars 4.5 stars 4.5 stars
4. RunKeeper (iPhone, Android) Built-in training plans and GPS, heart-rate monitor compatibility, workout music control, picture options, social media network access. Ability to track routes and analyze progress. 4.5 stars current version; 4.5 stars all versions 4.4 stars

5. Skimble - workout trainer (iPhone, Android) Audio, video, and photo instructions for wide range of workouts. Specializes in at-home workouts that don't require equipment. 4.5 stars current version; 4 stars all versions 4.4 stars


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