Following the explosion of social media in recent years, it seems that nearly every daily activity — including shopping, news, books and entertainment — has shifted to a digital platform. The fitness sector is no exception.
Take a minute to scroll through your app store, and you’ll undoubtedly find hundreds of fitness, health and wellness apps, providing you with personalized and guided workouts to help you along your fitness journey. Whether you’re a runner, a cyclist, a yogi or even if you’re brand new to working out, there is bound to be an app that is catered to you.
In a fast-paced world that largely prioritizes productivity and efficiency, it’s no surprise that many people are deciding to go digital with their fitness, allowing them to work out at low costs, and a low time commitment in the most convenient way possible. However, in the midst of the thriving Austin fitness scene, how much have these fitness apps really changed the fitness world or impacted the fitness industry? With workout classes, gym memberships and personal trainers — as well as hundreds of fitness apps — readily available throughout Austin, people now have the choice to go the digital route or choose a face-to-face workout experience.
Before deciding which route to take, it can be helpful to weigh the pros and cons of both. Whether you decide to attend workout classes in a studio or use a fitness app at home, it’s important to choose the option that works best with your schedule, budget and personal needs.
One major difference between using fitness apps versus fitness studios is the cost. Most fitness apps are inexpensive or free, allowing users to work out on a relatively low budget. Apps like Nike+ Training Club, Strava and MyFitnessPal can be downloaded for free, and some of the top paid apps in the app store include Full Fitness: Exercise Workout Trainer, Couch to 5K and Pocket Yoga, each of which can be purchased for less than five dollars.. In comparison to fitness studio memberships, which can often range from $50 to $200 per month, fitness apps give you the ability to save a considerable amount of money.
Additionally, fitness apps give users the flexibility of working out anytime, anywhere. If you’re struggling to balance a busy work schedule and only have a small window of time to dedicate to working out, many fitness apps give you the freedom to work out on your own time, even if that means during your lunch break or 15 minutes before bed. Apps like Johnson & Johnson’s Official Seven Minute Workout — which provides a wide variety of exercises and guided workouts — allows on-the-go users to stay fit, even on a tight schedule.
Another enticing feature of fitness apps is their ability to “gamify” your workouts. Tapping into the part of our psychology that finds satisfaction in achieving goals and completing tasks, apps like the “Activity” feature on the Apple Watch encourage users to work toward personal goals or compete in virtual competitions with others. As users burn active calories throughout the day, the “Activity” app shows the user their progress through a series of three nested rings: a blue ring for “Stand,” a green ring for “Exercise” and a red ring for “Move.” The more active calories users burn the closer they get to completing their goals, achieved by closing all three rings. Users are able to earn badges, achieve “activity streaks” by closing their rings multiple days in a row and compete against their friends. Although the “Activity” app is a simple concept, many users find this feature to be incredibly motivating in their day-to-day fitness.
Another example of “gamifying” fitness can be seen in the popular Fitbit app. Throughout the day, users wear the Fitbit wristband — which is synced to the app — and it records movement, tracks calories burned and counts steps. By turning fitness into a sort of game, the app is able to motivate users to view fitness not as chore, but something that can be both enjoyable and fulfilling.
On the other hand, you may find that attending a workout studio is a better fit for you. One major perk to choosing a face-to-face fitness experience is the community aspect. According to Christina Jarboe, health and wellness coach and front desk associate at Ride Indoor Cycling, many of her clients would agree.
“People are very stoked about showing up to a class. It’s all about the energy,” Jarboe says. “It’s the energy and the music that the instructor’s play, it’s the community vibe that you get from being at a studio, it’s the community events that we host, it’s that we bring riders together, it’s showing up and seeing someone you haven’t seen in a very long time…that’s what people look for. They look for that connection and that relatability.”
If you consistently attend the same studio or workout class, you’re bound to meet people who also love to be active. Having a community allows you to connect with others who share similar fitness goals and will help support you along your fitness journey.
“You can find [community] in a fitness app, sure. If you are determined and have that right mindset,” Jarboe says. “But you can also be having a [bad] day, go into Ride, and completely turn around your full day by someone saying something nice to you or just having that one moment and that one song that made you have a breakthrough rather than a breakdown. It’s really hard to turn a mood around by doing an at-home workout.”
Another benefit of working out in a studio is the accountability. If you purchase a membership or class, and you have a community to keep you accountable, you are far less likely to skip out on your workout. Using a fitness app at home, it can be tempting — and all too easy — to close out of the app, tell yourself, “I’ll workout tomorrow” and end up sitting on the couch. However, attending a fitness studio pushes you to make a commitment to yourself and to others that you will show up to class and be ready to work hard.
Additionally, Jarboe explains that a face-to-face workout in a studio can potentially fix incorrect form.
“Form and technique can be recognized by an instructor — that can be pointed out, that can be fixed and corrected,” Jarboe says. “However, when you’re working out at home, you might not have the mobility to see what an error could be in your technique or form.”
Certified trainers and coaches can help fix errors before they happen, thus preventing future injury and helping you to perform your workout with the best results.
After considering the pros and cons of each, you may decide to go the digital route with fitness apps, or perhaps attending face-to-face workout classes is more of your style or you may even want to try out both. In the end, it all boils down to personal preference. As we progress further into the future of technology, fitness continues to follow suit, but workout studios continue to play a vital role in the fitness scene, especially in Austin.
“I definitely think fitness will go further digitally. I think as electronics and technology furthers, I think fitness will, too,” Jarboe says. “But I think there’s something so special about the in-person training…I don’t think in-person instructors will ever have a really tough competition, because some people just like to be in-person, but [fitness apps and fitness studios] both provide great workouts.”