Two weeks ago, I took the plunge. Unsatisfied with my physique, brought on by spending most of my day in front of a desk, I joined my local gym. I’m no noob: in my early 20s I was a workout hound. Hardly missed days. Had actual muscles. Now? Not so much.
After taking a week or so to work myself back into it, I’m about to start an actual training regimen. How to keep track of my progress, though? I’ve never liked the idea of bringing a clipboard along. It’s too big, and, though it shouldn’t matter, I look like way too much of a dork. What about using my BlackBerry, though?
Locked away no more
When most people get to the gym, they head straight for the locker room. Some change, since they’re coming after work. Others just want to lock away their cell phone, wallet, and keys while they pump some iron. I’m finding that locking away one fewer item is a good thing. Now I take my BlackBerry out on the floor with me, just as some people take their iPod with them. It’s small enough that I can slide it in my pocket or attach it to my belt loop without creating too much obstruction.
Fitness tracking applications
The easiest way to keep track of your workout progress with your BlackBerry is to install an application. We’ll go over a handful of these. They’re similar in nature, helping you track your nutrition intake as well as your fitness output. Really, it’s not much different than you would imagine such an application functioning.
First up is Fitness Tracker for BlackBerry. This is an extensive fitness calculator, allowing you to add values for different foods you eat, and describe the exercises you perform. After you enter your height, weight, and other vital information, the program has an idea of your body type. You can then calculate your intake and output daily.
Fitness Tracker features graphs, which can show you information regarding different nutritional intakes, like carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Of course, not all fat is bad fat — and if you’re pumping iron you’re going to need a certain amount of fat in your diet. So Fitness Tracker allows you to separate the fats into their proper categories: saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, etc.
Next is Ascendo Fitness, which functions in a similar manner to Fitness Tracker. It includes a database which hosts the nutritional information for 7,293 items. That makes things a lot easier on the user. No longer do you have to search for nutritional information on what you’re eating. It includes nutrition info on products from companies like, according to the company, Weight Watchers, Marie Callender’s, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Domino’s and popular brands like Kellogg’s, Nestle, Campbell’s and Budweiser.
In addition, Ascendo Fitness allows you to create daily workouts, and it includes basic household activities, like shoveling snow, which help you burn those extra calories. It also looks into over 100 strength training exercises to see how you’re progressing.
Finally, we’ve got Total Fitness for BlackBerry. LIke Ascendo, it contains a database of foods, though Total Fitness has about 5,000 items. Still, that’s plenty to work with.
The advantage of this application is that it allows you to select from among various diet plans and weight loss goals. The program then makes you a daily food budget, which, like a monetary budget, you must stick to. You can then graph your actual nutrition intake against the calories you burn in the gym. So if you’ve been working out for a month and don’t see any visible results, maybe it’s time to check the graph and see how you’re doing on the nutrition front.
Yes, it also has strength training tracking, an essential for any gym rat. Its database has 60 different exercises, and you can record the sets and reps you perform. Then, next time you go in, you don’t have to wonder if you use the 40 or the 45 pound dumbbells. It’s right in front of you. Then, every few weeks, you can set out to improve on your current best.
If you’d like to save some valuably memory on your BlackBerry, you can also take a Web-based approach to fitness tracking. Recently, I’ve been turned onto Gym Technik. It’s a simple program that runs well enough for my use. Thankfully, my ‘Berry gets reception in my gym, which is essentially a basement.
First, you go to gymtechnik.com and sign up for a free account. Once you do that, you can sign into the site — on your desktop or laptop — to create your workout. After naming your workout, you can choose from a number of exercises, sorted by body part. Gym Technik even breaks it down further, allowing you to target specific parts of larger muscles.
Many of the exercises have animated images, which demonstrate how the maneuver is performed. This is especially important for exercises involving the back. The last thing you want to do is go to the gym, look like a fool doing an exercise, and wake up the next morning with a stiff back. It’s really the pits, so it’s worth it to know what you’re doing before you head into the gym.
From here, you can go to the address from your Blackberry browser and sign in. There you can enter in your body stats, starting with weight and body fat percentage. Unfortunately, like many people, I do not know my body fat percentage. Though I’m not sure I want to find out.
Then, select the workout. This will bring you to the exercise list. Just click on the exercise to pull up another page. This has the animated image on top, though it’s not animated on my 8830. Maybe OS 4.5 will bring the image to life? Scroll down, and you can enter in the number of reps and pounds you did on each set. Then hit save, and you’re done.
The only disadvantage, as I hinted above, is that some gyms will not get cell reception. If you can keep all that info in your short-term memory, you can just enter it once you get out to the car. The service is free, so it’s nothing to scoff at.
Some people just don’t have the time to spend in the gym. It’s either a money thing or a time thing usually, but either way it’s not good. Fitness isn’t just about looking good to members of the opposite sex — though it is a mighty fine perk. It’s about lifelong fitness. Do you really want to lose your body functions as you age? Of course not. Exercising while you’re young can keep your body in working shape and help you stave off the effects of old age.
nexFIT for BlackBerry is an ingenious application in this regard. It doesn’t exactly track your fitness. Instead, it gives you 46 exercises you can perform basically anywhere. The most equipment you’ll need at any time is a chair. This includes both strength and aerobic exercises, so you can still customize your workout to your own personal wants and needs.
You can sort the nexFIT slides by body region — upper, lower, and mid, of course — or you can shuffle the slides for a random daily workout. It also involves beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of intensity, so you can start small and ramp up your efforts once you get into better shape. The diagrams show you what to do, and the circles on top of the screen tell you how long to do it or how much to do of it.
How much does a gym cost a month? Plenty. nexFIT costs just a one-time fee of $24.95. You can’t do much to beat that. No, you won’t have the fancy equipment of a gym, but you’ll be creating functional strength and cardio capacity. In the end, those are some of the most important factors to fitness.