When it comes to cell phones in the gym, there are some boundaries. Talking on your cell phone in the middle of a workout area? Not cool. Texting away while leaning on a machine that others want to use? Equally uncool. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your cell phone at all in the gym. In fact, used properly it can be a valuable fitness tool.
You don’t need a fancy new iPhone 5 or a Galaxy S3 to get these benefits. Any smartphone will do, really. Don’t have a smartphone? You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars getting one. A simple T-Mobile Android Samsung phone — usually available for free (on a two-year contract) and with 4G speeds — will suffice. If you’re serious about reaching your goals, you should consider this an investment. It will help you with many steps along the way.
Here are a few ways that your iPhone or Android can act as a fitness tool.
If you already bring a music device, such as an iPod, to the gym, then transitioning to the smartphone will be no big deal. Among a smartphone’s many functions is the ability to play music you load onto the device. The iPhone, in fact, is essentially an iPod Touch with the ability to make phone calls. Simply load the music that was on your iPod onto your iPhone or Android smartphone, and you’re set to go.
The most effective way to remain focused on our goals is to keep close track of our progress. By merely recording our workout data we provide ourselves with the motivation to improve. It’s why you see so many people with notebooks and pens in the gym. Your smartphone can replace that notebook and pen, meaning one less thing to carry to the gym. Many fitness recording apps, such as Gymrat, let you create workouts with large exercise libraries, track your progress, and give you metrics to show how far you’ve come along. These come both in numerical and graphical format, so you can view your progress in different ways.
Timing your workouts
Rest time is an important aspect of any fitness routine. How long you rest between sets and exercises can play a big role in how much, or how little, you can accomplish in a workout. For instance, if you’re bench pressing and you take one minute of rest between sets one week, and then two minutes between sets the next week, you’ll be able to move more weight in the second week. That’s not because you got stronger, necessarily, but because you rested more between sets.
There are many timer apps for smartphones, and they allow you to standardize things like rest time. That way you can truly measure your strength progress, rather than the amount of rest you took between sets. Timing also works for your workout in general. Think you spend too much time lallygagging? Time your workout and make it a goal to finish faster each time.
Many fitness apps let you post your results and progress to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Let me start by saying there is a level of overdoing this. But you can still use social media to your advantage. If you start posting your progress and then stop, and even one person asks what happened, it could provide the motivation necessary to continue. Holding yourself accountable to people other than yourself is a great way to continue your routine, even if you don’t want to.
Yes, smartphones can be expensive. Data adds a significant charge to any monthly cell phone bill. But for fitness buffs, it can make a world of difference. From tracking your progress to keeping you on task, to simply motivating you during your workout, a smartphone can play a large role for anyone looking to accomplish fitness goals.
Joe Pawlikowski is a fitness fanatic writes, edits, and consults for many blogs across the web. He keeps a personal blog, A New Level.