The best fitness tools for your smartphone

The best fitness tools for your smartphone

Every January, social media timelines fill up with pledges to become healthier and fitter.

January is traditionally the month of alcohol abstinence, vegan diets and gym membership subscriptions.

Unfortunately, good intentions are often derailed by a combination of wintry weather, social events and a lack of willpower.

As with so many other aspects of our lives, our smartphones are here to help.

App stores are full to bursting with fitness apps, some working in conjunction with wearable gadgets like FitBit wristbands.

These are some of the free fitness apps deserving space on your Android and Apple devices…

One You Couch to 5K

The title is slightly misleading, because completing this nine-week programme won’t actually see you covering five kilometres at once (unless you’re a naturally quick runner).

However, it will enable you to run for half an hour at a time, covering whatever distance you feel comfortable with in the process.

Three weekly lessons (with rest days in between) intersperse brief bouts of running and walking, gradually increasing the former while reducing the latter.

Despite a rather uneven difficulty curve, Couch to 5K is recommended by the NHS for helping people to strengthen their muscles, tendons and joints while avoiding injuries.


Many fitness regimes founder due to a lack of time, but Sworkit has been designed to fill any spare moments in the day.

It’s possible to customise fitness workouts for ad breaks on the TV, a lunch hour or anything in between.

Fitness programmes are approved by sports scientists, with specific goals like improving mobility or building muscle.

These video-guided routines are intended to cater for yoga, bodybuilding and general cardio, while stretches introduce an element of pilates into proceedings.

Nike+ Run Club

Walking into a Nike store is like peering into a marathon runner’s head, since the American sportswear brand has focused heavily on athletics-related products in recent years.

Its Run Club fitness apps are a competitive version of Couch to 5K, offering audio-guided running routines for beginners.

Run Club also appeals to seasoned athletes with features like personalised coaching plans, leaderboards and regular challenges.

Routes are tracked using your device’s in-built GPS, and it’s possible to receive motivational audio guidance from fellow athletes (or coaches) while pounding the pavements.

Fitbit Coach

Fitness apps are often designed around dedicated hardware, and FitBit wristbands have become a common sight.

The accompanying Coach app interprets data generated by these wearables, from heart rate spikes to patterns of exercise.

Data is used to generate personalised fitness programmes and recommended exercises, many of which have accompanying videos and how-tos.

You don’t even need to use Spotify at the same time – FitBit Radio mimics the streaming giant’s curated playlists, with categories including Rock, EDM and 80s/90s/2000s music.

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