Version Reviewed: 1.4.2
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Fitness apps in the App Store have done alright since its inception. While they aren't quite as plentiful as games, they do tend to do quite well. Apps like iFitness are top 50 mainstays, and others tend to periodically bounce around the top 50 all the time. The problem with fitness apps, and I guess fitness every fitness plan in our obese nation, is that they aren't instantly gratifying. Games are fun the second you download them, while fitness apps tend to make you work for your gains.
Pushup Fu, from Brain Bakery, is another pushup training app looking to get people in shape… but this time it makes things a bit more fun. The primary goal of Pushup Fu is to slowly train you to do 100 pushups without stopping. This fitness goal is pretty much the gold standard of fitness tests because it trains not only your strength and endurance, but also your pain threshold. Through a 10 week fitness plan, Pushup Fu takes you from doing 5 sets of not many pushups to 5 sets that look like this, 23, 22, 21, 20, 65+. The progressions are quite slow, but although I am only in week three, I do feel quite a bit better about my pushup endurance than I did a month ago.
The key to pushup apps (I reviewed Push-Ups Dojo last week) is the method at which the app tracks your pushups. I suppose an app could just let you enter in your own amounts,but it works out much better when people can't cheat. Pushup Fu tracks your pushups by judging movement with the accelerometer. By using this method, the app not only tracks your totals, but it also determines whether or not you went all the way down, or took enough time to get a full pushup in. A robot voice in the app counts down your pushups, and instantly informs you when you did a lame half pushup.
The trick to the accelerometer tracking is where to place your iDevice. The game recommends that you use an armband placed just below your shoulder, but I don't possess an armband for my iPhone. I certainly wasn't about to buy an armband just for this app, so I got creative. Since a correct pushup has you with a straight back looking straight ahead, I decided to place my iPhone between my shoulder blades, just behind my neck. I had a rubber case laying around, so slipping wasn't a concern for me, but I could see how an uncased iPhone would be trouble. Be aware of this before you buy the app, because if you don't have a good place to put your iDevice, the app is quite useless.
On top of basic pushup tracking, the app also includes a battle mode for some extra replay value. It is definitely more fun to challenge your friends, but with global leaderboards and lists of people similar to you (by game score), you can challenge anyone to a pushup challenge over your cellular network. At this point and time, the game is plenty of a challenge, but I could see myself really getting into the battles once I'm doing 100+ pushups in a sitting (God willing… I'll probably get to 50 and then have my arms fall off).
Pushup Fu is a fantastic fitness app because of the automated fun that it provides. While it still involves working out and exerting yourself, it doesn't just leave the workout motivation to you. With a 10 week fitness plan and an online pushup battle mode that is quite fun, the app really makes you want to work out and get stronger. Get with the program and get this app already… just make sure that you get an armband or a rubber case so you can actually play.