What I Use: Apps to Stay Fit – Part 1: POPSUGAR Fitness

weight lifting

Do I look like I’m struggling to hold up this tiny free weight? I am. And it’s only 6 pounds.

I like to run. It’s about the only form of exercise an awkward, uncoordinated person can do without needing lots of practice.

  • I’ve tried the elliptical machine: my lack of coordination means my arms and legs are flying off the pedals and handle bars the whole time. I am actually sorer from my white-knuckle grip on the handle bars than I am from the workout.
  • I have no rhythm, so all dance-related workouts are completely out of the realm of things I might do.
  • I’m also not good with commitment, which means any kind of team sport is a bad option because 1) I can’t guarantee I’ll show up for our practices and games and 2) I’d be really uninterested once my lack of skills meant losses for the team. If I’m going to fail at something, I’d rather I be the only one who is let down by my lack of talent, and I’d prefer not to have an audience. Which means running alone — on my treadmill in my basement — is a good option for me.

But running can get boring. It’s also not a well-rounded workout: It’s great for cardio and building muscle in your legs, but not so great for your upper body strength. And, you can run all you want but if your diet is absolutely horrible, there’s only so far you’ll get.

There are so many apps/websites out there to help you become healthier, but I have a few favorites. Since I’m incredibly long-winded in my reviews of things, I’m making this a three-part series.

POPSUGAR Fitness
Like I said, running can get boring. The POPSUGAR Fitness app is perfect for me because it has a number of running (both treadmill and outdoor running) routines you can use to change things up, including lots of interval and pressed-for-time routines. In order for me to maintain my current weight, I try to run three or four times a week for 40+ minutes per run. However, there are times when I only have 20 or 30 minutes. Fitness Sugar has plenty of routines that will get my heart pumping in just 20 minutes, so I can get in a meaningful, worthwhile workout and still take care of all the life activities I have going on.

Another downside to running is that it isn’t a full-body workout. While I’m relatively happy with my leg strength, I have the upper body strength of 10-year-old me. I found lots of upper body workout routines in my favorite magazines, but I could never tell if I was using the right form, and I’d sit there rereading the directions and get confused trying to interpret how to do the workouts.

POPSUGAR Fitness makes it super simple by including videos. It reminds me of the Jane Fonda VHS tapes my mom had back in the 80s. There are tons of full body workouts (some of which require no equipment). What I really love, though, is that I can tailor workouts to what I need. The app lets me select upper-body-specific routines (usually 10 minutes in length) that can be combined together to create a full workout. Right now, I have four 10-minute video clips that leave my arms feeling like jelly at the end of the 40 minutes. There are other routines that target your core, your legs, your back and more.

Having the routines in video format makes things so much easier to do. Each video has an instructor and a few other people doing the workouts, so you can watch them to see exactly how to do it. It also helps from a timing perspective — I used to waste so much time trying to read the instructions for a move. Now I can just do it as they do, and I don’t have to count my reps or keep track of anything. I just follow what they’re doing for as long as they do it and I’m golden.

POPSUGAR Fitness is available as a website, but also as an app for your phone or tablet. I downloaded the app on my iPad so I have a large screen for viewing the videos. If you have Apple TV (or some other screen mirroring functionality), it’s great because I can watch the videos on my TV, making them even easier to follow.

What you need: If you don’t have access to any equipment, there are plenty of strength training routines that require no gear. There are also quite a few running routines that you’d be able to do outside. I happen to be one of those people who hates nature (mostly bugs, wind and weather) and gyms, so I invested in a treadmill. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever purchased. For the arm workouts I do, I bought a few free weights from Target. The instructors in the videos typically used 5- to 10-pound weights. I’m mega weak, so I started out with 3-pound weights. I later bought 6-pound weights, and I try to use those for as many of the moves as possible. But there are some moves where I have to go back to the 3-pounders. If you use the Target Cartwheel app, check out their offers for Toys & Sports. Every so often they’ll have all of their C9 by Champion gear up to 30% off.

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