This New Fitness App is Like Your Own Personal Trainer (and It's Free!)

A get-fit strategy you can carry in your pocket.
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Simone Olivero
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A get-fit strategy you can carry in your pocket.

Resolution time has come and gone, and now that we've all vowed to get more fit this year, is anyone else struggling with how to get started? 

Me too! So when a friend suggested seeking out a personal trainer, I decided I'd give it a shot. Except for one problem—pop into your local gym and your jaw might drop when you hear how much a personal trainer costs by the hour. (Think $60+ per session.)

Then I heard about a fitness app that I could try instead. The Nike Training Club app (or N+TC for short) is like having your own personal trainer on the go. And did I mention it's FREE?!

Nike NTC app

The N+TC app lets you choose one of four fitness goals.

Available for iPhone and Android, this app lets you choose from a whole range of four-week training programs to help you achieve specific goals—be it getting lean, getting toned, getting strong or getting focused. 

Once you choose a program, each has a number of different interval workouts, with videos and voice motivation to help you through. So it's perfect for busy people (like me) who don't always have time to make it to the gym, or may only have 15 minutes to squeeze in a quick workout. 

No equipment is required, either—though there is the option to use weights, tension bands or a medicine ball if you want to the workout up a notch. Basically, you can use N+TC pretty much anywhere with just a few feet of space. 

Nike NTC app

The basics to get you started: gym clothes, weights (which are optional) and your phone.

I'm always skeptical about hidden costs, but the app really is completely free. There is no trial period nor extra charges to access certain parts of the app. All of the workouts and programs are available and ready for you to download. Because each workout is downloaded individually, you also don't have to worry about using up a ton of memory on your phone.

The first step is to choose your fitness goal:

Nike NTC app goals

Choose a program based on your fitness goal.

Then, choose a level based on how often you exercise: beginner if you work out between four to five times a month, intermediate for two to three workouts per week, or advanced if you exercise even more. 

Once you've got your level, you can choose from a whole list of interval-style workouts that vary in length. 

Nike NTC app workouts

The range of workouts, from short to long.

If you're not sure what to choose, there's a featured workout each week, which is usually a good place to start. Once you get the hang of things, you'll be working up a sweat before you know it.

Nike NTC app featured workout

Start with the featured workout.

Okay, so what do these workouts entail? Ranging in length from five to 45 minutes, each workout involves a series of movements that you do one at a time for 60 seconds each. Depending on the goal you picked, these can be high-intensity moves such as burpees, running or skipping, or low-impact yoga- and pilates-inspired exercises. Some workouts suggest using accessories like small hand weights, tension bands or a medicine ball. If you have these, great! But like I said, you can easily do the workout without them.

The app will introduce you to each drill with a video that demonstrates how it should look. Once you've got the hang of it, it's your turn, and a stopwatch will count down the seconds while the trainer shouts out motivational phrases like “don't give up!” and “keep pushing!”. Once the 60 seconds are over, it will beep and move on to the next drill until you've worked through the whole series a couple of times. I couldn't believe how much I was sweating within the first three minutes!

Nike NTC app

The app will beep at 60 seconds to signal that it's time to do the next drill.

The workouts are regularly updated, and each month there is another featured workout, often designed by a star athlete. For January, it was the Tabata Toned workout, featuring six up-and-coming female athletes: Lea Wallace, Michelle Wie, Leticia Bufoni, Marlen Esparza, Morgan Lake and Kyah Simon. This high-intensity workout focuses on six core moves (lunge, squat, push, pull, bend and rotate) using a two-to-one ratio of intense work (i.e. 40-second sets with a 20-second rest) in order to challenge the anaerobic system and improve coordination. The entire workout is an intense 12 minutes long, which may sound short, but I guarantee you'll be sweating (and hurting) by the end of it.

Nike NTC Tabata athletes

The creators of the Tabata workout: Lea Wallace, Michelle Wie, Leticia Bufoni, Marlen Esparza, Morgan Lake and Kyah Simon.

One of the coolest things about the N+TC app is sharing your workout with others. Who doesn't like to brag about their awesomeness? Sharing also makes you feel more accountable to your goals because you know that people are watching. Here's how it works. 

Sharing happens in two ways. When you sign onto the app, you'll be asked to create a profile that will link to any other Nike+ app you may already be using (such as the Nike+ Running app or Nike+ Fuel Band app). Your profile will keep a tally of how many workout minutes you've completed and any Nike Fuel earned. 

(I'm sure you're wondering what the heck Nike Fuel is? Basically, it's a system for measuring movement that gives you points anytime you're active. Some people like the competitive nature of having a point system to track their movement, but if you're not interested in that, just ignore this part.)

Your profile has a link where you can add friends. These can be people you actually know (you have the option to directly connect to your Facebook account) or other people using the app—Nike+ currently has a digital community of more than 65 million women! The point is that you can check out which workouts other people are doing right through the app, as well as show other people what you're up to and how you're progressing. It's a great way to be accountable for your workouts and to cheer each other on digitally. 

Nike NTC app

Even when you're working out alone, you can feel connected to a whole community.

Another way to share is to post your progress onto other social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. Once you finish a workout, just press share and an automated message detailing your workout can be posted straight onto your wall or news feed. Again, the idea is to share how hard you're working out so friends can cheer you on and make you feel more accountable to your goals. According to Nike, N+TC users who share their workouts more than once during their first month of using the app end up doing 80 percent more workouts in that same month! 

If I’ve learned anything from falling off the wagon with workouts, it’s that you need accountability in order to keep up with your goals. If no one’s watching, no one will know when you skipped your workout for season three of 'Gilmore Girls' (guilty as charged!).

How To Try the N+TC App

The Nike+ NTC app can be downloaded from iTunes for iPhone or is available on Google Play for Android. 

If you're in Toronto, Nike trainers offer three free classes each week at the Academy of Lions with workouts taken from the app. It's really fun—kinda like doing the app with a bunch of people all in one room to great music. 

Have Your Say

Have you checked out the N+TC app yet? Any other fitness apps you love?