This week on  @SAFM with @AshrafGarda I will be chatting about the leading fitness apps that are currently available on the app market.

Fitness apps are growing in popularity at the moment when looking at ad spending on Facebook. In particular, this genre of apps have highest conversion rate, averaging 14.29% from Facebook ads whereas the overall average rate for Facebook ads across all industries is 9.21%. (Source

So why are these apps growing in popularity?  With many incentives from health insurances especially, encouraging a healthier lifestyle (especially to those that are usually desk bound), people find themselves turning towards apps to assist. If you’re trying to lose weight, walk more steps each day, or push yourself through a brutal gym session (if you happen to find the time to go to the gym), fitness apps can certainly help. Mobile apps are the ideal assistants for health, fitness, and weight-loss because they are always with us, and they’re quite personal, so apps that can integrate into our current lifestyle by encouraging daily habits and lifestyle changes, and a few little nudges in the right direction from your mobile phone might make all the difference. Fitness apps also tend to be community driven, where you can add friends, track each other’s progress in order to chat and motivate each other.

I has recently joined this Fitbit community (thanks to a present from my children for Mother’s Day) so I have been attempting to be a little more active (I must admit I am one of those people who is naturally allergic to exercise so I do need to be motivated). I’ve been experimenting with a variety of fitness apps and these are my top recommendations:


Overall Workouts

For those interested in an overall workout, the following are good apps to try out

1.Fitbit – . Available for iOS, Android and Windows Phones. Free to download and works in conjunction with your Fitbit device.

Think of this app as a portal for all your fitness and nutritional needs. It has a purpose for everyday and works with all Fitbit devices (you will need to look at the Fitbit website to see which app is supported with which device).  The app can be used to track your activity such as:

  • Steps
  • Distance
  • Calories burned
  • Sleep patterns
  • Water consumption
  • Calorie intake by an easy to use mechanism to log food
  • Heart Rate (if using a Heart Rate monitoring enabled device)

The app is easy to use with an intuitive dashboard for quick access to key information. It also gives you little reminders during the day to nudge you to get up and take those few extra steps and that you should be winding down and going to bed. I found it particularly useful in complimenting my gym workouts (especially if I am on my own – we all know it’s quite boring to train on  your own without the motivation of a gym buddy or trainer), as I can monitor my heart rate and make sure I am working out at a reasonable level.

2.FitStar by Fitbit-  Available for iOS and Android. Also has a mobile web version to use for other platforms. Free to download. Available as a free and premium service.

This app is targeted for specifically for workouts where you get to choose a personal trainer (there are 2 to choose from when you sign up), and you set your  fitness goals and current level (which is a 2 step process). You are then given an introduction session of about 10 mins with about 6 different exercises. (all on video, so be wearing of your data costs). Once you complete each exercise you are asked to rate the exercise (too easy, able to keep up, too difficult). Thereafter you get served with customized programmes for you (based on your feedback). These programmes range from free or premium (R160/month) with exercises ranging between 7 – 24 mins. Unlimited access to programmes.


3. My Fitness Pal – Available for iOS and Android. Also has a mobile web version to use for other platforms. Available as a free and premium service.

This app focuses on monitoring weight loss by monitoring your nutrition and calories burned during your exercises You can also link your health tracking devices to the app. There are also tips and articles and recipes to help improve your nutrition. The premium edition is ad free and offers exclusive content and personalized plans. The premium plan is R999.99 annually or R199.99 a month with a month’s free trial.


Running Apps

For those interested in apps specifically for running, the following are good apps to try out

4.MapMyRun – Available for iOS and Android. Also has a mobile web version to use for other platforms. Free to download. Available as a free and premium service.

MapMyRun is a fitness tracking application that enables you to use the built-in GPS of your mobile device to track all of your fitness activities. Record your workout details, including :

  • duration,
  • distance,
  • pace,
  • speed,
  • elevation,
  • calories burned,
  • and route traveled on an interactive map

You can even also save and upload your workout data to the MapMyRun where you can view your route workout data, and comprehensive workout history. You do need to have your phone on you when you run. The premium edition is ad free and offers exclusive content and more features and functionality. The premium plan is R579.99 annually or R119.99 a month.

5.Nike+ Run Club (NTC) –  Available for iOS and Android.   Free to download.

This was my one of my favourite app (and first apps that I ever used) when I started running many years ago and I was pleasantly surprised to see it is still popular and has been updated through the years. This app also:

  • Tracks and stores all your runs and records : Get all the detail you need—pace, distance, elevation, heart rate and mile splits—and GREATER control over what you see during your run.
  • Personalized coaching plans that adapt to your goals : Whatever your goal, your Nike+ Coach has a plan for you. One that starts with your goals and fitness level, and adapts as you progress.
  • Customizable post-run sharing with friends : Personalize your posts by adding photos, stats and stickers, then customise who sees it—your entire social network, or just your Nike+ friends.
  • Leaderboards let you compare and compete : Easily compare and compete with friends and fellow runners—just hash-tag your miles against specific goals or challenges to see where you stand.
  • Motivation from Nike athletes (such as  Mo Farah, Serena Williams, Kevin Hart,  Allyson Felix): With custom Nike+ Run Club playlists, in-run cheers from friends, and encouragement from elite athletes, you’ll have the motivation you need to go a little harder and little further.

At the moment this app only integrates with the Apple watch. If you have other fitness tracking devices, you will have to use this app as a standalone app.
Cycling Apps

For those interested in apps specifically for cycling, the best app to use is Strava

6.Strava:  Available : iOS and Android

Price: Free for basic, Premium options are available

Track your running and cycling with GPS, join Challenges, share photos from your activities, and follow friends on this app. Activities can be uploaded from your chosen fitness devices, iPhone or Android apps, and Strava will automatically log all your workouts.

Runners and cyclists who thrive on competition love the Strava app and helps users achieve their personal bests or follow other users to bring a competitive angle. The premium plan is R199.99 annually or R114.99 a month.