Fitness: I’ve got an App for that! by Thea Zunick

Fitness Collage

Thea is the Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Along with Greek Life, she also has the responsibility of being the Wellness Coordinator on campus. Her career in higher education has spanned work in fraternity and sorority life, leadership, service, wellness, and programming. She is currently enrolled in the Educational Doctorate Program at Rutgers University to continue her quest with lifelong learning. Her other interests include fitness, dancing, teaching Zumba, hanging out with her puppy and new husband, shopping, and being a foodie! Connect with Thea on twitter at @thearachel


Fitness: I’ve got an App for that!

Many of us Student Affairs folks are on the go all of them time. We often juggle our jobs with making time for friends, family, class, webinars, basically anything that takes away from “me” time. Combine that with the modest salaries we earn, and it can be a pretty tough go at trying to find the time, money, and effort to keep in shape. My challenge to all of you is to use that work – leash aka your phone, for something other than a mechanism to make you work more. Use it as your new fitness guru!

About 4 years ago I started a new job that allowed me to have a bit more freedom in my personal life, which meant that I could finally return to a healthier me. I wasn’t out of shape per say, but I was not in the shape that I had been while in college when I was on a well balanced diet and dancing in a company 4 days a week.  I needed something to motivate me to get back into it. Luckily for me, a friend presented me with the idea to sign up for this thing called the Warrior Dash. Since I was not a runner, or an intense fitness person, I had no idea what this was.  My mistake was looking at the website AFTER signing up! Oh my!  It was a 5k with 15-20 obstacles. How was I to prepare for this? Hiring a personal trainer was not an option since that was a very expensive venture, and I did not have hours in a day to spend at a gym.  It was then that I turned to my phone.

Since that moment, I have relied on several apps that are low to no cost to help me get back into my top shape. I knew it was important to keep track of both exercise and diet, since both are important to being healthy and fit. Through this blog, I hope to be able to share some of the apps that I used and motivate and show YOU that it is possible, as a student affairs professional, to be healthy and in shape!  I’ll start with my overall keeping track app, and then go into a few of the health apps that I have used, and then wrap up with a few fitness apps.

My FitnessPal

This app, accessible via phone or computer, is meant to help a person keep track of their daily calorie and nutrition intake along with any exercise that you have done. This is especially helpful if you are trying to maintain or lose weight. There is also an option to link up with friends through the app which helps with your personal motivation. It can become a whole community that you are a part of.

How it works:  You start by inputting demographic information about yourself such as current weight, goal weight, height, gender, activity level, etc. Each day you log your food intake and any exercise you have done. You can add food by searching their large database, scanning a barcode of the item you are eating (only if you are using the phone version), or creating your own recipe within your profile.  It will automatically track your nutrition as long as you are inputting what you have eaten. If you choose to, you can input your weight as often as you like, if this is something that you want to keep track of.

Feedback: Although time consuming, if you are serious about being healthy and are trying to get in this habit, this is a wonderful app that you can use to assist you. It is easy to use and quick to become second nature. I appreciate the calorie breakdowns that I can access along with my nutritional catalog it creates. It is also satisfying to see my weekly reports when I have made good choices and balanced out my caloric intake with exercise. The only main challenge I had was when choosing from their database when inputting an item that I ate, I found that some of the nutritional information was wrong. Make sure to always check an item after you added it.


The purpose of this app is to help the average person make educated decisions about food consumption choices. It’s very tempting to want to wander around the food store and end up with a basket full of food that you think is healthy, but it reality may not be the best choices for you. It also helps you track food consumed and exercises done like the My FitnessPal app does, but not in as easy a format.

How it works:  When you create your profile you can choose to set up a plan where your goal is to lose weight, cut carbs, eat heart healthy, lower cholesterol or blood pressure. You can also tell it that you want to eat vegan or vegetarian and be warned about GMO’s or processed foods. When using the app you can track of what you’ve eaten, water intake, exercise, weight, and also has a place where you can input notes. You can also scan or look up foods to see its nutritional value. This is helpful when food shopping. Probably one of the most helpful features is the ability to create a shopping list through the app, which helps when you are wandering around the food store lusting after those delish and unhealthy snacks.

Feedback: This app is free which is a plus but has a sister app for $4.99 which does the same thing as this app but is for Allergy & Gluten free friends. Though there are 3 different things this app does, I find the food shopping feature to be the most useful and user friendly part.

Get Running

This program has one main purpose, to get someone off of the couch and get them to be able to run a 5k. Its similar to the C25K app that is out there, but this happened to be the one that I found first. Also, there is not a paid version, unlike the C25K, so you are never asked to upgrade or are blocked from certain features because you have the free version. In 9 weeks the app helps you achieve the ability to run a 5K. As someone who barely could run a half a mile before I started, I can promise that I was able to run a full 5K by the end of the 9 weeks.

How it works: The program is set up to have you run 3 times a week in alternating walk and run intervals. The woman talks you through each activity (walk/run) change along with an option to have her coach and motivate you.  If you are using this app to run outside, she will also let you know when you are halfway done and should turn around. It also syncs with your 3rd party music apps or audio book if you are using an iPhone. It can either lower the music or pause playback when she is talking.

Feedback: The program is extremely simple to use and best of all, its free! The voice on the app is British, so who doesn’t like being motivated by that accent! The only thing that I feel it lacks is suggestions on how to use it if on a treadmill, for example speed and incline. I found that I had to challenge myself to increase speed during the week and also set my treadmill to a 2.5% incline to mimic outdoor conditions to prepare myself for the real deal.

Workout Trainer By Skimble

This free app gives you workout videos that you can use on your iPhone or iPad (preferred viewing for me) when you are at home, in the gym, or even your office! Some of the features are free, but most require some sort of investment (it’s cheaper than a personal trainer). I am someone who can wander around a gym and not know what to do with myself, so if you are like me, this app comes in handy.

How it works:  First you create your profile which includes questions about your demographics and fitness goals. Once you have a full profile, the app will suggest workouts that you can download and add to a customizable workout list. You are able to create multiple lists if you are someone who likes to vary their workouts. You can also play your own music while using the app, but I find it doesn’t lower the music enough to where the trainer is easy to hear. You can also download pre-made workouts that are already created for you but for this a purchase is required.

Feedback: Though it’s free up front, I mentioned that most require payments because the creators are always trying to get you to pay for different features such as different trainer voices, unlimited workouts, and no ads. The pricing isn’t terrible (1.25 a month for a year, or $3.33 a month for a 3 month subscription, or $9.99 for pre-made workouts), but there is enough you can get out of it for free, at least in my opinion. Some of the video’s are a bit choppy when you watch them, so you might have to just listen and interpret what they are telling you to do when working out.

FitnessClass By PumpOne

This app for your ipad shows you real time videos that you can follow along in your own home on when you are on the go for a workout. I even did one of these in my in-laws backyard this spring! There aren’t an unlimited amount of free videos, but there are enough to choose from that you can get a variety of workouts. You can buy their class pass if you want access to all of their videos which will set you back $9.99 for a month or $69.99 for a year. If you pay they claim you will have access to over 400 videos.

How it works:  Once you sign in, you can choose workouts based on time, goal, instructor, or if you have any resources at home such as free weights or a BOSU ball. You will need to download the video, so make sure you are in a place where you are connected to the internet. Once you are all set, the video will show in real time, just as if you were in a class with an instructor. They will give you hints and tips on how to make sure you are doing the movements correct and will always mirror image the movements so you can follow along.

Feedback: The real time videos make it more of a real class experience. You can take a full 40 minute class by watching and following along, you just have to have personal discipline to complete the movements to your full potential. Its easy enough to find all of the free classes which range in type and intensity so that you do not have to pay, though there many more classes that look enticing that are a cost. This is an easy to use app, though it does really need to be used on an iPad.

In Closing….

Though this is just the tip of the iceberg that is out there, I hope to have given you a few ideas of what is out there that you can use to help you achieve your fitness and health goals. There are more apps that I have and still continue to use that I am not writing about, so feel free to reach out to me and ask what they are! Remember, YOU CAN DO THIS!

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