A Smarter Way to Work Out: Recommendations for Workout Activities and Free Mobile Apps

Hanna R. Loucas, Washington D.C.

As I’m learning, life as a consultant can be unpredictable—for most, it isn’t classified as a typical “9 to 5” job, which means that it can be a struggle to find a balance. Certain habits that used to be so deeply ingrained in my weekly routine have started to fall slowly out of place as I find myself trying to make sense of a haphazard schedule. For me, working out has become one of those tasks that is often pushed off onto the to-do list for another day.

Many of us already incorporate working out in some capacity since it is healthy not only for our bodies, but also for our minds. I can’t tell you how many times a great workout has boo417455-5-great-apps-for-working-out-at-homested my energy level, mood, and confidence (if you want to read up on some of the other advantages, I’ve included a quick article by the Mayo Clinic here).

Sports and working out have been a component of my life since I can remember (to give you an idea, my parents like to say that I never learned how to walk since I jumped straight to running). However, with full time work and the responsibilities of the “real world,” I’m finding that more frequently I would rather sit on the couch with my roommates and watch re-runs of How I Met Your Mother than put on my running shoes and sprint on a treadmill. Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to work out more regularly, and I wanted to share some tips for what has been working for me:

  1. Plan your workouts for the week in advance – get a journal or a planner and write down what days you want to work out and what type of exercises
  2. Ask friends to join you—it will help you stick to your goals and provide greater accountability.
  3. Work out “Smarter” — at IBM we like to talk about how we are working towards a Smarter Planet, so it only makes sense to apply this to our own lifestyle and choices as well. One tip for working out smarter is to do interval training workouts. So rather than running 45 min at a constant speed, try sprinting for 1 min and jogging for 60-90 seconds. Repeat.
  4. And finally, download a few good workout Apps. Some of my personal favorites for free include:
  • Nike Training App: This is by far my favorite workout app because of the quality and breadth of workouts offered. It allows you to browse through various routines based on your activity level and desired outcome (ie: to tone, to burn fat, to build muscle, etc). During the selected workouts, it instructs you through the activities as you do them and has embedded videos to clarify the moves.
  • Charity Miles: This tracks the total distance you walk, run, or bike and donates money to the charity of your choosing. Adds another level of incentives and can give you the extra push to keep going!
  • Daily Workouts: This app also has a paid version, but I’ve found the free version to serve me well. Similar to the Nike Training App, this program allows you to select workouts based on which area you would like to train (abs, arms, legs, etc). You can also control the workout length, varying from 5, 8, or 10 min. This is a great app if you’re short on time and want to complete a quick workout, but it also has a couple of full workouts available if you’re aiming to focus on multiple areas during the same session. Plus, it applauds after you finish the session, which always makes me feel like a superstar.
  • 7 Minute Workout: This mobile app is ideal if you’re on a time crunch, looking for a full-body workout minus equipment, and need motivation. The challenge is to complete 7 min a day for 7 months, and the app tracks your progress. The great aspect about 7 Min Workout is that it turns it into a challenge, so you receive 3 lives when you initially sign up, but lose a heart when you skip a day (missing 3 hearts resets to zero). It also doesn’t require an internet connection and has voice cues to notify when you should be switching exercises.

Working out can easily fall to the side when you’re juggling a busy schedule, but if you plan ahead and utilize the technology we have at our fingertips, you’ll find that it can become embedded into your weekly routine.

Hanna Loucas is a Consulting by Degrees consultant based in Washington, DC. She graduated from the College of William & Mary in May of 2014 with a BBA in Marketing and is using the tools gained from her education to inform her role as a Strategy & Analytics consultant. On the weekends, she likes to try cooking new recipes and play soccer on the National Mall.

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