The Future of Fitness

Growing up I was not always the slender and #fit girl you see today. This part of my childhood may be gone, but it is certainly never forgotten (especially if my grandmother has anything to do with it). At every holiday or family function my grandmother loves to tell the story of how she would always “lose Julia in the house”. The story begins with my grandmother suspicious that the house has suddenly gone silent (because It was obviously more likely that I was lost than I was just a quiet ad well-behaved kid). In order to find me she starts searching high and low meanwhile calling my name into every room. With no answer back and no body to be seen she begins to worry. All of a sudden she hears rummaging and crunching through a closed pantry door. It is at this point in the unveiling of what is behind the pantry door where my grandmother gets to say her favorite line: “It was either the Very Hungry Caterpillar or a very hungry Julia!”   After the much-needed pause for laughter and a salute to our favorite children’s book, my very Italian grandmother ends the story by forcing pounds of pasta and pastries on any and every poor sucker that had to sit through that story.

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Unlike my grandmother I did not find that story to be especially cute. Growing up I was often stuck between a state of wanting to lose weight, but also eating my weight in candy. In order to help me reach my goal, my mom tried signing me up for every (non-cut) sport she could. The funny thing about sports is that they are only good exercise if you play. Being the round un-athletic kid I was, I found my home on the sidelines of most games. Although my heart may have been racing, I surely was not.

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After many tries (and failures) I decided to take matters into my own hands and download all the top fitness apps. I even swore off every video game (unless it was Wii fit). This personalization and focus on the individual really helped me lose that “baby weight”. I am always hearing about and reading online about how lazy technology makes us. I do not think this is true. I believe that blaming our sloth like behaviors on technology is a cop out.   As of right now, when I go into my app store the third app on “Top Apps We Love” is a fitness app. This shows that people are using, and loving, the ability to control their own exercise through their phone.

The first reason why I think digitizing fitness is so useful is because it helps you keep track. There is no need to guess anymore. You can track everything from the food you consume to the calories you burn. One of the most popular fitness apps, is called MyFitness Pal. This app let’s you log everything you eat and drink. It also has the ability to link to the health app on your phone or even your fitbit. This allows the app to give you live updates on how much more you can or cannot eat throughout the day to reach your goal. The app also allows you to set short and long term goals, and rewards you when you achieve these goals. This allows for people to see progress that can often be missed and over looked.

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Secondly, online fitness allows for friendly (and distant) competition. The main person you are competing against is always yourself, but sometimes it is fun to also compete against a friend. This is another source of motivation for app users. Speaking from experience, working out with someone who is more fit than you can be very intimidating. I have often run into the situation where I would rather not work out than be embarrassed in front of a friend. Fitness apps and online fitness regimens allow for you to share your data without sharing your form.

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Finally, computerized fitness is beneficial because it offers a variety of workouts. You no longer have to spend money on numerous different memberships to find out what you like. With the touch of a button you can try almost anything. The best part about all of this is that it usually comes at a small price! The excuse: “gym memberships are too expensive” is no longer valid. A lot of apps will even provide you with your own personal digital fitness instructor. This “instructor” will collect data from what you have showed interest in or activities you have participated in the most and cater suggestions based on that. With digitized fitness you are no longer constrained to the times, supplies, and classes of your local gym.

In conclusion, you get out what you put in. Technology has given us the ability to sit around and stalk or exes all day, but it has also given us the ability to get up and get fit!

           

 

 

9 comments

  1. Great blog. I’ve used myfitnesspal and I love it. Technology (apps mostly) have reduced the perceived barriers to entry that you talk about. That’s a really interesting point that I hadn’t thougt about but now that you mention it, I’ve been guilty of that. A few years ago, I wanted to try yoga but was intimidated to sign up for a class when I can barley touch my toes. There are so many resources online to get started in your living room!

  2. Awesome post! I agree that digital fitness has transformed the fitness industry. I think that it is extremely useful because it keeps people accountable. In this day and age, everyone is always on their phone, thus it is fitness apps are convenient for people. People are able to keep track of what they eat/their workouts. Also, a huge aspect of fitness apps are healthy competitions. My roomates used to have fit bit competitions. This encouraged them to take more steps and reach a certain goal every day. It will be interesting to see how the digital health/fitness industry evolves as more technology comes out.

  3. Love this! I have definitely become a fan of fitness apps. I especially love the Nike Training app. The workouts are definitely tough. I, like you, am not a huge fan of working out in front of others, so my living room and phone are the perfect gym for me. I’ve also found that Pinterest surprisingly has great workouts. I did one last week and I was sore for days.

  4. Julia, thank you for sharing! I also love fitness apps as you explained, they add variety and track everything! There are incredible products coming out and most people are always in the market to make their lives healthier, whether that’s apparel, headphones, shoes, or apps/fitness guides. I’m sure you have noticed her presence, but I am still fascinated about how viral and successful Kayla Itsines- the Australian, personal trainer! She has taken over the world it seems like haha.

    In our society, we have become so health conscious that it has dominated conversation. Even though I am a fan, I know that there are negative consequences as well. Giving people the opportunity to track everything is not healthy for those who may have an eating disorder, etc. Did you find anything that added to this issue? I am also curious if you found anything about Fit Bits or Apple Watches?

  5. I haven’t seen many fitness apps (for workouts) but I have also used fitnesspal. I think it is a great idea. If you only look at how technology has widened the gap on fitness it becomes daunting. In the 50s and 60s, working out consisted of running, pull-ups, sit-ups and push-ups. And healthy eating was just eating was meats and vegetables. Today there are tons of different workouts for different types of people, and different stages of athletic of your life. And the same goes for eating. Some sugars are good and some are bad. The material to fully comprehend all of this is daunting. But these apps make it very easy to take the first step to a healthier(ish) lifestyle. Especially since it can take a picture of the bar code and automatically know the number of sugars and proteins per servings. Its very convenient.

  6. This is a really interesting post! I did a Fitbit challenge with my sister and got pretty serious about getting my steps in – and even went above and beyond to beat her because hey, sisterly rivalry. It’s a good point that people appreciate that competition. I do think there are more sloth-like alternatives than there were back in the day, but going for a walk and spending time outdoors should always be an option.

  7. I so agree with your point that technology is not just mean to foster laziness in today’s day and age. For example, the stressed importance of the Apple Watch’s fitness features shows how important that is of a component to the watch. I too use a personal fitness app and absolutely love it! It’s like having a personal trainer on my phone. The reason why I used to hate going to the gym was because lifting seemed miserable, confusing, requiring knowledge of all machines, and requiring knowledge of how to develop a plan. While I still find lifting miserable, none of the other things are a factor anymore!

  8. Great post. I’m really looking for AR or VR fitness, so I can start getting in better shape while still playing video games. I don’t think we’re far off.

  9. Great post! My friends and I started a competition while I was still living in Miami using an app called “Lose It”. We were able to track our calories and the friend that lost the most got $10 from each person in the group. I can appreciate these fitness apps so much, and I remember playing Tennis on the Wii with my sisters for hours, so I definitely agree that tech does not make us lazy, rather, it helps encourages us to make fitness fun.

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