Apps for logging workouts/activity


Original Post
Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

I've recently started with a PT (physical therapist, not personal trainer), and I have specific exercises to do. I also need to keep up with biking, hiking, walking, etc.

It's already a little hard to keep up with what I'm doing, so I'd like thoughts on tracking. I've got a reasonably smart phone, so an app or two might get it done. Otherwise, paper and pen, I suppose, if that's less hassle.

Here's what I'd like an app (more than one?) to do:

Android phone
Works when not on wifi
Ability to enter gym machines, settings, and reps
Ability to track treadmill type machine use
Ability to enter PT exercises (theraband type stuff)
Tracking for activities, such as walking, biking, hiking

It would be most helpful for all of the above to be in a journal sort of format, so I can log daily, and see where I am with my weekly assignments. Being able to see any progress at all will be encouraging, but even without that, watching numbers add up will help.

Free or cheap is a plus. I pack my phone all the time, so I'm hoping not to have to buy something else.

No need or desire for calorie counters, sleep stuff, weight management, packaged routines, any of that stuff. Just logging what I'm doing and being able to track it easily, and stay on top of it.

I realize I could build this in Excell, I am capable, but I just don't like spreadsheets and also rarely have a computer fired up at home.

Thanks for your help!

Best, Helen

John Lombardi · · Cheyenne, WY · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 163

I do all the above with paper and pen. I don't see the benefit of using an app unless you think you'd be more inclined to keep a log on your phone vs pen and paper. I tried a couple apps (free) that were annoying when I was doing a non-standard exercise like a theraband. Or if I didn't know the name of the exercise and just called it something like "that one exercise where I look like someone doing a disco". They produced histograms and summaries that were sometimes interesting but I think just reading through past entries was enough to help me figure out what sort of progress I was making.

I'm sure that's not the answer you were looking for, so maybe someone else had better experience with an app. I thought pen and paper ended up being the least hassle.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Well, actually, that's also a possibility. Where to start with that, even, has meant scribbles on scraps. A day planner? Calendar? Back side of grocery receipts? :-)

I fished around enough on the net to know I'm not the only one, and, an awful lot of apps look, well, awful.

So, what you do is relevant, also, and feel free to elaborate. I can always put all the exercises on paper, and the mileage items on something that tracks, for fun, like Strava, if that's the least hassle.

I am not organized by nature, so....

Helen

JNE · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,830

I will second the paper and pen idea. If you can't organize anything worthwhile using a paper and pen, then you likely need to build organizational skills which are best learned in a free-form environment, such as writing down actual things done in training using a paper and pen. It is the idea of following your own path, as opposed to the path of someone else, in this case (using an app) someone whos life experience likely is almost entirely within the context of a contemporary office environment. This will build 10-100 times the organization skills using an app would, and thus will do 10-100 times more good for your life.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler
, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Poem from: The Road Not Taken

John Lombardi · · Cheyenne, WY · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 163

I use a pretty small notebook that I got at walmart. One that I can barely fit in my pocket of my gym shorts. I think it was smaller than day planner size. Some people at the gym (non-climbing gym) use sheets of paper they formatted in a notebook but that was a lot of work. The small notebook lasted me a whole year of exercises, although during the summer when it's nice I don't log as much exercises. During the winter I'm using 2 pages a day or so. That was one part that I thought might annoy me - having to split up notebooks when I run out of space. I think that's the only downside.

A journal sized notebook would be better if you keep extensive notes. I usually just write 1-2 sentences when I was doing PT and rehab exercises after that. I think the most important part is consistency. If you don't habitually use the notebook, app, whatever then you may as well not even keep one. It took a little bit of experimenting to see what I liked. For me, I like the notebook since there's something more satisfying by checking something off on paper vs. on an app on your phone. I'm the same way with work - I use a pad of paper constantly to check off tasks.

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

Paper printouts of an excel sheet for the week have been the most useful for me.

I use plenty of apps for tracking a variety of things like biometrics and miles, but gym workouts are just awkward to stuff in an app unless you're following a popular premade plan (there are a few workout routines that have whole apps dedicated just to that routine) and paper has also been the easiest for scheduling/planning.

Something like Strava + a weekly printed spreadsheet would probably work for you.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Thanks, guys! My impression was that gym stuff didn't crunch into an app well.

Ah well.

To clarify. I can get my act together, I just don't enjoy it. I'm a nonlinear thinker, often with multiple things rattling around in my head at the same time.

So, I'll come up with something make do for awhile, until I (literally) can picture what I really need. Once I can see it, it's nailed, but this kind of information is tough.

For the record, I didn't expect an app to be satisfying, just hoping for functional. The entire thing is nothing I want to do, but I simply have to. Which means I have to figure out how to make it bearable, since forever is a long time. Big sticks are fine for motivation, but carrots are nice to have too.

OLH

JNE · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,830

The thing about these apps is they are used to collect data: want to jack someones health insurance? Do they have a climbing gym app of any kind on their phone? Do they buy climbing shoes? Data shows a climbing gym app on a phone has a correlation of 0.90 with climbing outside at least two weekends a year, and it shows buying climbing shoes once has a correlation of 0.10 with climbing outside at least two weekends a year (we go through your e-mails and text messages with a word filter to check your personal correspondence for verification, which are literally all kept in an enormous data center in Utah...wouldn't want to de-legitimize our actions to our sheeple!), and that increases the likelihood of a serious accident: looks like your insurance is going up! No data on you? Who knows what risk you are. Better hedge our bets and only offer you sky high rates! Yeah for technology!

SMarsh · · NY, NY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 3

Hi Old Lady H --

I've admired a number of your posts.

Even though you have absolutely no need for the weight tracking, there are a few weight tracking apps that allow easy logging of exercise / fitness data.

My Fitness Pal (all one word) is one of them. The free app (not the paid one) is fine on phone and on tablet / laptop / desktop.

You don't need to pay any attention at all to the calorie conversions.

On the other hand, paper is easy. So is a spreadsheet.

Good luck!

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Thanks, smarsh!

JNE! Escher!

JNE · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,830

Thanks OLH. One of my favorite pieces from him: the geometry is anti de sitter, and the fish to me represents what I claim to be a cool feature of our world: The fact that the speed of light is different through air than through a water (or any other material), which I propose leads to us seeing refraction of light in water (or other substances) due to our minds placing objects in the wrong place in spacetime and due to the fact that our minds literally interpret light to create our visual picture of the world. The coolest way to see this is to watch water lap up over a rock on a shoreline which rises very gradually out of the water, and watch as the rock rises up with the water as it rises over the rock. FWIW according to QED (the theory of physics which describes all light and matter), the actual amount of the refraction of the light is a direct result of this variation of speed as the light travels through any given medium. Also, interestingly, animals which interact with water surfaces often have a double-cone feature of some kind in their eyes, which I propose allows them to see without the refraction: each cone is calibrated to the speed of light through the various media (some amphibians have three cones btw). Thus this is a very meaningful piece of art to me. Thanks for noticing :)

Just ribbing everyone on the data thing, btw. Scarily however, a version of that already does exist and it will get more intrusive if we don't take direct action of some kind to oppose it.

Steve Pulver · · Williston, ND · Joined Dec 2003 · Points: 195

FitNotes is what I use, it works pretty good and it's free.

Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 325

Check out Evernote. Not a preformatted option but a good way to organize notes and you can take pics with it too. I've been logging workouts for the last 2 years with it. I have looked at several workout trackers but none really fit the type of training I do. I like keeping my monthly plans on a spreadsheet, but logging workouts in one is a PIA.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120
Steve Pulver wrote:FitNotes is what I use, it works pretty good and it's free.
So, for now, I'm trying this one out. I'll see how it goes, for a month or so.

I do have several PT exercises I had to figure out how to add (weight/reps for theraband?), plus, what to do with 121 reps working a courier route yesterday? Lol!

I'm also keeping a paper log/journal. I rooted through blank books I've acquired (used book store in house at the library, can't resist poking in there), and found the "Engineer's Field Transit Book" I picked up a few years back. It even has tables in the back, if I'm suddenly in need of excavating a roadway embankment!

Anyway, I printed out the x-rays, and pasted them in there, to remind why I need to stay motivated.

Soon, I do think I'd like to let my phone track walks and hikes. Strava sounds like a good fit, but we'll see.

Thanks for the input, all of your suggestions are helpful, as I expect it's going to take some time to get this dialed.

Mainly, honestly, it's also about long term motivation. This isn't just a rehab sort of thing, it's a move it or lose it. That's definitely the crux.

Best, Helen
Kent Richards · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 3
Old lady H wrote: Soon, I do think I'd like to let my phone track walks and hikes.
I've enjoyed using MapMyFitness for this. If you struggle with motivation, the gameification features may help you (achievement badges, challenges, etc).
Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Old lady H wrote:Mainly, honestly, it's also about long term motivation. This isn't just a rehab sort of thing, it's a move it or lose it. That's definitely the crux. Best, Helen
Mutual commitment with a friend can be valuable for long term motivation. For example, you go to the gym with your friend once a week to train together. For many people, external commitments like that are harder to break, and can make the process more fun.
Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 1,308

I use Microsoft Access and link it to Excel to make charts. Lots of flexibility for making your own stuff, if you don't have to use an app.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Thanks, all!

I'm using Fitnotes for the exercises, and Map my Fitness is doing a nice job of tracking the time, mileage for walking.

Also pen and paper, journalish, where I am putting some photos, plus I can never remember anything, so I'm pen and paper at the gym, just for weight and reps.

If I do enough hiking/biking this spring, I'll probably add Strava, to connect with the locals and make it more fun.

Sheets for a climbing log, and....? Maybe peaks? Well, hill/ridge bagging, for sure.

Thanks for all your help and encouragement!

Best, Helen

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
Old lady H wrote:plus I can never remember anything, so I'm pen and paper at the gym, just for weight and reps.
Nothing makes counting harder than lifting (esp heavy) weights. Friend of mine has a pile of rocks he uses to count sets. I like pen and paper, more portable.
Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120
Patrick Shyvers wrote: Nothing makes counting harder than lifting (esp heavy) weights. Friend of mine has a pile of rocks he uses to count sets. I like pen and paper, more portable.
Lol! Remember, even without an injury per se, we're basically talking rehab here. My "heavy" at the moment, is only 50 lbs., and that's on a seated leg press. Both legs. Just two sets, so I'm counting reps, basically. Notepad so I know where I was last time.

Soon, maybe this week, I'm going to bite the bullet and see how bad single leg is. That will be sobering, but good to measure against.

The leg machines are grouped, so I usually have someone beside me doing the big stuff! Fun to see what bodies are capable of.

I'm better than a month ago, that's for sure. I also used the mirror at the gym to take a full length selfie, since it's the start of the year. I'll tack that up somewhere to remind me to hang on to what I've got.
coppolillo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 0

I'd check out TrainingPeaks.com

House and Johnston are using it to coach alpine athletes (UphillAthlete.com), and most cyclists/runners use it. Basic version totally free, logs tons of data, coaches/PT's can input workouts for you. Started by a former professional cyclist who's now an avid backcountry skier...great site!

Good luck!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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