Run, gadget, run

In this edition of our monthly Gadget column, we examine fitness apps.


With the holidays come calories, and to stay fit and healthy, let’s ignore miracle weight loss pills and Shake Weights in favor of something that actually works—diet and exercise. MyFitnessPal—a calorie-tracking app that tallies your daily caloric intake and calories burned through exercise—is certainly not the only app of its kind, but it contains a few great features that make it stand out. MyFitnessPal boasts a database with more than 2 million foods covering everything from fruit to restaurant menus. You can scan UPC codes to pull nutritional facts, and the process is quick, easy and surprisingly accurate. It’s nice that the app breaks down nutritional facts beyond fat and calories, integrates with popular fitness apps, and offers social networking features, but the massive database can be unwieldy. Something as simple as a banana included an entry for “Banana 165g X .89 Cf” because, surely, that’s how we all identify the size of a banana. Android and iOS; Free.

Workout Trainer

Workout Trainer includes exercises of various intensities for burning fat, increasing flexibility, and toning and building muscles, as well as exercises that target specific parts of the body. Each program leads you through a series of movements with a slideshow pictorial and audio guide. Unless you pay for the Pro version, your audio guide sounds akin to Max Headroom’s cousin, which can become obnoxious but bearable. While there are plenty of free exercises, paid content is behind every corner. Whole programs, non-robotic audio files, and month-long sessions created by fitness professionals are all going to cost a pretty penny—though the one-time purchases are still cheaper than many gym memberships. Plus, the forums and social networking features give you the support and camaraderie of working out at a gym without the dank smell of body odor and cleaning products. Android and iOS; Free with optional paid content and features. $10–$15 per workout or $25 per year for Pro access.

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is an audio experience that uses your phone’s GPS or accelerometer to track your walk, jog or run and overlay a series of missions and audio clips that simulate a world overrun by zombies. The story progresses with each mission, featuring a cast of reoccurring characters and a funny script. Users can upload a music playlist and, on occasion, the script introduces the music as if you were listening to a real radio station. When zombies approach, you hear their moans in the distance, and they grow louder as they gain on you. To outrun them you, well, outrun them. Along the way you collect random items to upgrade your compound after the workout, adding a mini-game. The game isn’t very polished, and the controls are touchy, but it’s a great way to cool down. Whether it’s a motivational tool or training for the inevitable, real-world zombie apocalypse, Zombies, Run! adds a lot of fun to an activity most people fear. Android and iOS; $7.99.