App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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The diet has been in full swing for about two months. It's a fully-fledged, actually-really-happening, honestly-lost-some-weight diet and I'm very proud of that. Sadly, it's not been the most prolific of diets. It's important to lose weight at a steady rate, of course, but there is such a thing as too slow. The issue? Definitely a lack of exercise. I've managed to get hold of my eating with the excellent My Fitness Pal app, but there's definitely a need for a complementary exercise app to help and encourage me to shed that flab a bit quicker as well as put on some muscle (MIA since 2001). Over the last few days GAIN Fitness has shown itself to be a reasonably strong contender for the job.
The strongest feature in Gain Fitness is the level of customization. I can generate a workout from the app's online database based on how long a workout I want, my gender, my location (home or gym), my desired goal (fat loss or muscle gain), which parts of the body I want to focus on, the intensity of the workout, the exercise gear I have available (dumbbells, exercise ball), and my own skill level with exercise techniques. The workouts generated usually seem appropriate to the inputs I put in, have short photo-based animations to guide me through each part, and particularly usefully can be customized while in the middle of an exercise session. If I'd prefer to try a one-leg push-up rather than a one-arm push-up then I simply change it mid-session using a drop-down menu. The workouts I perform are measured across work units and calories burnt, and can be linked to Facebook and the RunKeeper app.
My major issue with GAIN Fitness is with its inconsistencies. The app regularly has problems searching its servers for appropriate workouts, and sometimes it's hard to really distinguish one workout from another based on my inputs. Certain exercises have animations that don't make everything clear, in particular the speed at which they should be performed, while other exercises have their animations missing. Other bugs pop up, like the app not moving forward to the next exercise when it should or randomly starting an exercise. Also, trying to use the app's website to create my own workout is an exercise itself, one in futility that is. Clearly this is an app-in-progress, and new versions seem to be popping up regularly, albeit with mixed outcomes. Also, on a side note, it would be great to see some of the ongoing encouragement that apps like My Fitness Pal use to keep me returning to the app and pushing forward with my diet and exercise. Any half-decent personal trainer will tell you that people need encouragement and focus to get healthy, but GAIN Fitness leaves it all down to personal willingness.
Still, while GAIN Fitness doesn't completely fulfill its promise of being a personal trainer on your iPhone, for those who are maybe beginners when it comes to exercise it is certainly a useful adjunct to other tools in their health and fitness arsenal.