Regardless of whether you view your mobile phone as the bane of your life or The Ring to your inner Gollum, it’s probably not going anywhere fast.
In fact, for the time being, until smart watches get smarter, you’re going to be stuck with it.
So how can time-poor Dads fight back against these time-sapping, attention-seeking and productivity-diminishing devices that have us walking the streets like zombies, necks crowed and eyes transfixed not on where we are going or the world around us but on a tiny 3″ screen?
Well, at the very least, we can take advantage of some of the health and fitness information and tools they are able to deliver.
That’s only fair, right?
Listed below are some of the best fitness apps for Dads I’ve found and currently use. It’s by no means an exhaustive list but it gives me a start on redressing the balance of power between me and the dreaded device.
1. Stronglifts – 5 x 5 – Freemium (base version free – paid upgrades available)
The beauty of this app, and the program itself, lies in its simplicity. It removes any unnecessary thinking at the gym, which, let’s face it, can be a workout-killer.
There’s no procrastinating about what exercise to do next. No deliberation about whether to use the adductor machine or the lat-pulldown next. You just do as the app says and go home. Heck, it even tells you how long to rest between sets depending on how easy you found it and rings a bell to tell you when your rest is up. In this respect, it’s perfect for Super Fit Dads seeking some additional and serious strength without a huge time commitment.
The downside to this is that it can get a little monotonous just doing the same 5 exercises at a progressively heavier weight every workout. That said, if you want to start somewhere with a strength program and have something of a base already, this is a great place to start.
2. Tacfit Timer (Free)
There are tons of free timing apps available, some of which are more intuitive to use than others.
Tacfit itself was once hailed as the “next big thing” in functional exercise. I’m not sure about where that claims currently lies, although I would imagine the ongoing popularity of Crossfit has slowed its growth somewhat.
Notwithstanding that, they’ve produced a cracking timer which puts eight different time-based workout “protocols” at your ready disposal. I tend to predominantly use the Tabata, Every-Minute-on-the-Minute (EMOM), 30/30 (work/rest ratio) which appear to have been designed with busy Dads in mind – God bless you, Tacfit!
Other great timers are Gymboss and PocketWod, both of which are also free.
3. Strava (Free)
If you’re into any kind of endurance sport, you pretty much have to have Strava.
So I’ll assume that you do and keep it pretty brief.
It has great mapping, is (mostly) really easy to use and by working as a community is great for clubs and teams but also for individuals who need to a little extra help in keeping accountable.
In the same way that Crossfit has brought weightlifting and Olympic lifting more mainstream and, thus, massively increased the average standards in these lifts, I’d be willing to bet that the knowledge that your time, distance and average pace for each endurance session are going to be visible to all in your network has seen seconds per kilometre shaved off the average Sunday long-slow-run.
Other running apps I have used and like are: Runkeeper and Nike Running, both free and easy to use.
5. BT Free (err, yep, it’s Free)
Coach Stowe loves the bleep test. On the beach. He’s cruel like that.
It’s an absolute punisher but gives a true indication of aerobic capacity as well as a benchmark to work against. This is best free version of it I could find.
Be careful of how short a workout it can be though. I once tried to do it twice in one day and was taught a merciless and never-to-be-forgotten lesson.
6. Random WOD (totally Free although packed full of ads)
This is a quirky little number jam-packed with what seems to be an infinite number of workouts that can be broken down by type (i.e. bodyweight, weightlifting, singlets, kettle bells etc).
I love this feature because you can simply switch off anything that isn’t suitable for you at a particular time. If you have zero equipment, you set it to only deliver bodyweight workouts; if you’re focusing on kettlebell stuff, have it only deliver KB workouts.
There is also something simultaneously fun, exciting and trepidatious about hitting the ‘RANDOM WOD’ button and not knowing what it’s going to throw at you.
The downside to this app? It’s full of ads, doesn’t look amazing and the workouts can be really random (much like Crossfit).
So in that respect, it does exactly what it says on the tin.
7. Headspace (Freemium)
We all need to break a mental sweat, too, right?
Ironically enough, given that our mobile phones are responsible for much of the noise and busyness that infiltrates our consciousness constantly, there are a number of apps designed to helps slow down, relax and meditate.
I’ve tried a few and Headspace is perhaps the easiest to buy into and stick with.
By tasking you with nothing more (at least, initially) than devoting 10 minutes of your day to switching off from other “stuff” and centreing yourself to some degree, it provides a little oasis of calm for even the busiest of minds.
In fact, if I had to keep only one app from this list, this would probably be it.
There’s a lot of apps out there and it can be hard to find the diamonds in the rough. Hopefully this gives you a good start.
If you have any others I need to download let me know in the comments section.