Music and workouts go together perfectly. If I have a full music library and some headphones I can endure almost anything, so a workout seems like nothing as long as I’m blaring some tunes. For the longest time this meant bringing my iPod to the gym. That was all fine and good in some instances, but I soon found that it’s not the ideal tool. After all, it does just one thing. There is an opportunity to do other things while you work on the elliptical machine or rest between sets, but an iPod, at least my iPod, won’t help there. That’s why I’ve started bringing my BlackBerry to the gym. I’ll never bring my iPod again.
Any device I bring to the gym simply must play music. For a month last summer I tried to work out sans headphones and it just didn’t work. I ended up thinking about the movements too much and it became excruciating. Music allows me to focus my attention elsewhere. I’m still paying attention so that I use proper form, but I’m not thinking about my burning muscles or the constant repetitive motions. I’m blissing out as Zeppelin blares through my headphones. The first thing you’ll need to turn your BlackBerry into a music player is a microSD card. Most new BlackBerry models come with one preinstalled, but these are usually on the smaller side — the one with my Tour was just 2GB. That will last for a few gym trips, sure, but I’ve learned that I’m terrible at predicting what I’ll want to hear once I start my workout. I recommend checking out a larger memory card . If your BlackBerry runs OS 4.5 you can get one as large as 16GB, which will store plenty. If you just want to keep the bulk of your music library on your BlackBerry and you have OS 4.6 or above, you can get a 32GB card. Also, I’ve started to use DoubleTwist to manage my BlackBerry music. Windows users will get by fine with Desktop Manager, but I’m a Mac user and I’m not quite loving the media feature on DM. I find DoubleTwist a bit more intuitive, mainly because it mimics the iTunes style of loading songs onto my device. Though I think I use it because I also use DoubleTwist for my Android device, meaning I have one app to load music onto both, rather than one each.
While I have a large and wonderful music library that I can transfer to my BlackBerry, some times I really can’t decide what I want to play. The decision process then takes way too much time and it cuts into my workout. Because of this I’ve started taking advantage of Pandora for BlackBerry. I have a dozen or so channels set up, and three or four of them are filled with adrenaline-producing music that is just perfect for the gym. Pandora is not the only streaming music app, of course. You can check out our BlackBerry steaming music app showdown for a few alternatives. This isn’t always an option, of course. For starters, some users have limited data plans and can’t access streaming music apps. Then there’s the further issue of many gyms being in the basements of buildings. Three of the last four gyms I’ve joined have been basement-based, which can cause trouble for streaming apps. From my experience T-Mobile doesn’t work well, or at all, in basements, while Verizon gets by. It’s not blazing speed, but I can usually listen to my high-def Pandora stream with few issues. Your ability to stream, then, is going to depend on your phone and your gym location.
I started working out when I was 18, and it makes me cringe to think what I looked like back then. No, not my physique, but how I appeared to others at the gym. I used to wear tank tops, and I’d bring a big notebook in which I’d record my weight for each set. Both looked ridiculous. Eventually I ditched the tank and started leaving the notebook in the car. But now that I have my BlackBerry I can go back to recording my weight as I lift it. I’ve really taken to Gym Technik as my fitness tracking app. Well, not app, per se, but I do use the mobile interface to keep track of what I’ve done. You can set up and save your workouts ahead of time, and then record them once you complete a set. The issue, of course, is that you can’t do any of this offline, since you’re using the mobile site, m.gymtechnik.com. They do have a premium product, though, that not only provides more services, but also provides you with a Blackberry app that you can use offline. You can check out the the differences between basic and premium here. You can get a free trial of the BlackBerry app at App World. There are a few different fitness trackers in App World and the BBGeeks Store, but they’re mostly premium apps and don’t come with the best ratings. Honestly, what I suggest is creating a spreadsheet on your computer and then sending it to your BlackBerry. Download it before you get to the gym and just track your workouts there. It’s free and it’s easily the best method for tracking your workouts if you don’t want to pay.
Distractions and productivity
When I’m lifting I usually have a minute and a half to two minute between sets. The less time the better. Still, this is a minute and a half that I just kind of pace around and look at the clock. It always feels lIke could be spending that small slice of time doing something. With my BlackBerry I can. The time between sets gives me a chance to catch up on any emails I’ve neglected during the day. Even offline users can compose responses and send them when they once again have reception. Usually it takes a few sets to complete a reply, but if I’m doing 15 to 20 sets per gym trip that’s a few emails I can answer during my downtime. If I’m on the elliptical machine forget it. I can type emails the entire time. I’ll admit it, Twitter is another favorite of mine at the gym. It actually works well between sets, since it gives you a short burst of time just as Twitter gives you a short burst of messages. This applies to Facebook as well. If you want to be more productive, you can use your BlackBerry between sets in other ways. You can balance your checkbook, write down some idle thoughts, plan the rest of your day, make a shopping list, plan dinner…the list goes on and on.
We want your input
When we do lists like this we normally ask for comments on how you use this specific function. I’m really making a push on this one. I don’t want the apps you use at the gym per se. What I want is the list of things you do on your BlackBerry at the gym. So have at it. Leave us your comments and we’ll print a list in a couple of weeks listing all the things you can do with your BlackBerry at the gym.