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British Military Fitness's iPhone app My Fitness Instructor is simple and effective. It delivers their training expertise where ever you are. High production values and the quality of the source material make working out not only more enjoyable but more effective.
Spring has finally sprung and the idea of getting outside to exercise is getting more enticing. For most of us that usually just entails going for a run, but a new iPhone app from British Military Fitness (BMF) might be just the thing to spice up your routine and push your body a bit harder.
BMF run circuit based exercise classes in parks around the country with instructors who are past or serving military personnel. My Fitness Instructor is an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that puts one of their fitness instructors in your pocket. After selecting a focus (legs, cardio, etc), intensity, and duration My Fitness Instructor compiles a routine for you, selecting from over four hours of audio.
Pop your iPhone in your pocket, head outside to a park and you're off, working your way through a tough but balanced workout. You'll need a bit of space (about 20 meters) where you can run around and exercise in comfort, any small park will do.
There is currently only one instructor in the app, but you'll be able to download new instructors as they are released. They claim it can generate about 5,000,000 different combinations from the four hours of audio, so you should find that every routine is a bit different. This is great for keeping things interesting, there is nothing worse than getting stuck in a rut doing the same thing day in, day out.
The instructor hits the tone just right, upbeat, encouraging, but never patronising, and the quality of the recording is very clear. I did occasionally find the pace a bit fast, but things will get easier as you get fitter and more used to the workouts. Being randomly generated I was expecting the routines to feel like a bunch of exercises played back in shuffle mode, but this was not the case at all. You'll be warmed up and cooled down, with a structured workout in between that feels like it was purpose built; it's a neat trick that is well executed.
You'll be warmed up and cooled down, with a structured workout in between that feels like it was purpose built.
I hadn't heard of some of the exercises in the routines, but that wasn't a problem as there is video of all of them available which I found invaluable. As with the audio, the videos are clear and high quality, so it's easy to see what you need to do. Of course that does mean stopping to get your iPhone out, but after a couple of routines that stops being a problem as you get the hang of them.
These are serious routines, so if you are just about getting by in Wii Fit then you might want to work up to them, but if you are already a little active then they are a great way to push your fitness routine up a notch. Even on the easiest level I was being pushed quite hard, and burning well over 600 calories an hour (according to my pulse meter) which is more than I normally burn in the gym. While I doubt I'll ever describe working out as 'fun', the routines in My Fitness Instructor are definitely much more enjoyable and interesting than jogging round my local streets.
As well as the routines, My Fitness Instructor can assess your fitness with some tests. The simplest is a heart rate test done at various points during the routine where you tap the screen in time to your pulse, which is easier said than done. It works reasonably well, but I use a pulse meter anyway so it would have been nice to be able to just type my heart rate in, but that's a minor niggle. The other two tests can be done at any time, and have you doing exercises which get progressively harder, with your fitness being assessed by how long you can keep up. The app then lets you track your progress over time on graphs showing your fitness level.
Adding a "2-player" mode to what could have been a purely solitary activity was a stroke of genius.
Of course, all this running around on your own might make you feel a bit self conscious, so if you have a friend with a iPhone you can sync them up and do the routines together, even when you are doing different intensity routines. As anyone that has tried to get fit can tell you, having other people there for mutual encouragement and a bit of healthy competition can be a real boon. Adding a "2-player" mode to what could have been a purely solitary activity was a stroke of genius, although of course you do need a mate with an iPhone to work out with.
British Military Fitness's My Fitness Instructor is a really simple idea, to put their training expertise in your pocket, but it works really well because of high production values and the quality of the source material, and by keeping it nice and simple. This is not a game, but it can make working out much more enjoyable, especially with the very clever synchronisation feature.
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