Couch-to-5K — It’s Time to Get Off the Couch

Total Score:  28.5

Good news, you got in shape in the first quarter of the year and now you are looking for new and different ideas to spice up your exercise routines.  Consider one of the Couch-to-5K apps.   You get a structured routine, your own personal coach, an opportunity to interact with our community and improve your health.  That sounds like a win-win to me.  There are a number of these apps.  I chose the one that seemed to fit me the best and had a bright colorful display. 

Price Rating = 5     $1.99.  That’s the average price for app like this.

Ease of Use Rating = 5     With just a few setting choices you can get this app up and running (pun intended) quickly.

 Readability Rating = 5     Good size font with a super clear display.

 Will You Use It Rating = 5     If fitness is a passion – or just a wish – you’ll find this app helpful.

Downsides Rating =  0     I didn’t find any particular downsides.  I don’t believe this would be good for someone who was truly a couch potato, but you can easily use this app as a starting point no matter what your health and fitness situation.   I’ll add the usual caveat of checking with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

It is not optimized for the iPad, but it is not likely you would go walking, jogging or running with your iPad.

  Consumer Review Rating = 3.5     There are less than 200 reviews at this time and they are primarily positive.   Typically, some people had trouble with the app.  A few complaints were about the music, but recent reviews complimented the developers for fixing the issues. During my test period the music worked great.   I expect this rating to go up.  In fact, the last 40 or so reviews average 4.5 stars.

 Why Do You Need This App Rating = 5     Walking, jogging and running are good ways to maintain your health.  Find the level that suits you.

How does it work? 

  1. The purpose of the app is to get you to learn to run a 5K (3.1 miles).  You do three workouts at week.   In a 9-week time, it will coach you to being able to jog or run the complete distance.  In the beginning, it varies walking and jogging.   There’s a bar at the top that shows you how many workouts you have completed and how close you are to your goal.
  2. Your first step will be to click the settings button in the bottom bar.  Choosing your trainer will be one of your first steps.  Constance sounds like she might offer you kind encouragement, Billie sounds just a little tougher and Sergeant Block gives you that full military, no-excuses kind of instruction.  I went for Sergeant Block during my testing.   You also set the volume, music options, audio cues and GPS here.
  3. Once you complete your setting choices, simply push the “go to workout” button.  You start with a brisk five-minute walk and then vary between walking and jogging/running.  The timer in the center is very clear.  As you go along, your trainer tells you when to switch from walking to running.   The screen shows you the distance, average pace and a visual cue as to your next stage.
  4. You can listen to your exercise playlist, which makes the time go more quickly.
  5. You can log your workout in a journal and post it to Twitter or Facebook. There are various faces to choose from to represent how you feel after your run.  They vary from happy to crying.  In addition, you can put a comment into the field.  You can also see a map of your run from this screen.
  6. One of my favorite features is the Search for other 5K events.  They are somewhat addictive and once you have completed one you want to find others.   Some of the races offer discounts if you sign up through the app.  With your GPS setting on, it finds races near you.

This app was the winner of the 2012 Appy Award for best Health Care and Fitness App.  I can see why.  It has a beautiful display, it’s easy to use and it’s just plain fun.

Small word of caution – there are a couple of apps with similar names.  Just look for the name and the matching icon.   The others may be great apps, I didn’t test them and this review only reflects the features of this particular app.

Devices:   This app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.  It requires iOS 4.0 or later.    It was developed by The Active Network, Inc.



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