To some extent, fitness conventions meet your stereotypical expectations: lots of spandex, fit bodies, water bottles, and health food. Most people there are into fitness, even if they don’t embody the public’s perception of what a regular gym-go-er looks like, so they are pretty comfortable.  The people who usually look the most ill-at-ease are staffing booths inside the expo area. If the Las Vegas tech conventions are famous for beautiful, outgoing “booth bunnies” whose extroverted nature and interesting outfits draw you into their booths but don’t actually use the tech they are promoting, the LA fitness conventions have their analogue: introverted engineering geek types who create the software and tech devices fitness people use, but don’t understand. IDEA was no exception. Most of the tech-related booths had a semi-shy programmer guy who looked like he’d jump out of his skin if one more fit female approached.

Arya Farzin was not one of those guys. Mr. Farzin is fit and friendly, and was eager to show me the app he and his partner Joseph Phillips created, The Fitness Games.  He explained to me that you can use the app to create challenges, including a running challenge where you complete in real time.  It is immediately available in the App Store and on Google Play. After a quick demo, I immediately downloaded the free version and started to play with it. After IDEA, I was lucky enough to be selected to receive the expanded premium version for free in exchange for this review.  (I already knew I’d like it, so I applied to review it as soon as I saw the announcement.)  You can start with the free version, and then select the upgrades that you find most worthwhile, from individual workouts to packages.  A few features make this app unique and definitely worth owning.

Pre-made workouts, with instruction. From the home screen, you can choose a workout category (strength, full body, cardiovascular, or cross training). Then you choose a workout (there appear to be hundreds, but I did not actually count, and the app tells me there are really sixteen workouts, but over 250 exercises).  Each workout has a list of moves, and each move is broken down into multiple photos and includes a video.  For example, the “squat jack” move includes a photo of both phases of the move (the standing phase and the squat phase), much like you would find it printed in a magazine, but there is also a brief video showing a few repetitions of the move.  If you are new to working out, or want to learn some new exercises, this app is a great resource. If you are intermediate or more experienced, you can skip the tutorials but rely on the app for a balanced workout with a variety of movements.

Challenges! After you select a workout, you can chose to challenge yourself (just do the workout) or turn it into a little competition between you and a friend (or other nearby users, or even a worldwide challenge!). Starting a workout begins the timer, and challenges are based on time.  If you are a competitive person by nature, the challenge option is for you! If you don’t have friends who are using the app, go get some!

Community.  Can’t talk any of your friends into joining The Fitness Games? (Seriously, the Platinum version is like $2–way less expensive than a personal trainer, single class, or fitness DVD!) Head over to the app’s Facebook page and make some new friends! To make and keep a habit, you need positive reinforcement. Creating a healthy lifestyle can be really difficult if no one in your immediate social circle supports you. (Need a friend? I’m TrainWithBain.) You can upload gym selfies and videos, and post comments on your workouts.

Workout creation option. Have a specific goal in mind? Want to work on a specific body part only? Create your own workout! Select exercises, put them in order, and you’re on the way to creating your own custom challenge. I’m sure the app’s creators didn’t intend this, but it is a great resource for group ex instructors. Recently I subbed a class at my club called “BodyWorx,” which is a full-body multi-modality workout. I used the app’s “Create Own Workout” option to organize the exercises and design my class.  (Sneaky, no?)

Flexibility. You can do the pre-set workouts in any gym. Many of the exercises are bodyweight or can be done with free weights, others require a pull-up bar. Remember you can modify any workout with the “Create Own Workout” option.

I’ve got a few dozen fitness, workout, and running apps on my iPhone. This is the only app that combines instruction with social media and a competition.

Ready to Play?? The Fitness Games website
Have you tried The Fitness Games? What is your favorite aspect?


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