- The Washington Times - Monday, June 22, 2009

More iPhone owners are using their smart phones not only when they’re out working, but also when they’re working out.

Neil Harris, who developed Yoga Stretch and Yoga Relax applications for the iPhone, said he has noticed rapid growth in fitness apps since he developed his first yoga program in October.

“When I wrote my first yoga app, there was one other out there,” Mr. Harris said. “Within three or four months, there were 10 of them out there.”

Indeed, the number of new health care and fitness apps released on Apple’s iTunes Web site soared nearly threefold from 372 in December to 1,429 this month. There are 1,801 apps in that category, beating out news (1,684), photography (1,325), social networking (1,387), finance (1,131), medical (868) and weather (351).

While a few of these apps can be had for free, most of them cost a few dollars to download. The most expensive one, PumpOne’s popular Fitness Builder, costs $19.99. It offers a large selection of exercise images, video and instructional audio and personal progress calculators that monitor body mass index and body fat percentage. It also offers the opportunity to connect with a personal trainer to ask fitness-related questions.

Craig Schlossberg, co-creator and founder of Fitness Builder, said the program offers more than 4,000 workouts, separated by fitness goals as well the workout environment. Fitness goals range from postnatal workouts to “Bikini Boot Camp,” and environments range from a gym to a hotel room.

Not all iPhone owners see the value in fitness apps. Rob McDonnell of East Lansing, Mich., who has been working out for more than a year, said he has no need for another workout regimen.

“If you don’t already have a set workout, it gives you good ideas, but if you’ve already got a routine … there’s really not a lot in terms of apps that can help you,” he said.

Distance runner Michael Nolan disagrees. Although he has been working out extensively since 1991, he said Fitness Builder has enhanced his training program for marathons since he bought it in March.

Mr. Nolan credits Fitness Builder with strengthening his leg muscles, shaving a minute and a half off of his mile and helping him lose seven pounds in four months.

“I just noticed how I’ve lost a little bit of my gut,” he said, laughing.

Fitness Builder also offers free updates. The most recent update took place last Monday; the next one is scheduled for the first week in July.

Apple Computer also offers free health care and fitness apps for people who don’t want to shell out the cash to stay in shape. The most popular is LoseIt, a weight-loss program that allows users to set calorie goals and enter the foods they consume and the exercises they perform to track their progress.

Some programs are free when they launch but eventually cost money. Fairfax resident April-Hope Wareham said iTrainer Fitness was free when she downloaded it a week ago, but now it costs $1.99. The program features several different exercises for users to combine and create workouts, as well as a log to enter activity performed so users can track their progress.

Miss Wareham said she enjoys the convenience of having her workouts mapped out on her phone.

“It’s just easier because I don’t have to carry anything else around,” she said. “I used to do it with a notebook and I used to lose it or get water spilled on it, but I don’t forget my phone, and it’s my music player, too.”


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