So I’ve been using the Fitstar and Fitstar Yoga apps for about three weeks now, and I’m loving them! Both apps have a main “track” that adapts and changes based on your feedback about whether moves are too easy, just right, or too hard. They also have “freestyle” workouts that are basically the same every time, which you can add into your week to work specific areas or just change things up. Currently, you run the program on an iPhone/iPad, but a web version is coming soon. Basic functions are free – I’m good with the free “Get Moving” program on Fitstar – and paid versions are $30/$40 per year (I’m doing the paid yoga because that lets me customize length/difficulty of sessions). Since that’s about 2-3 yoga classes, it seems like a bargain to me! But the real advantages have to do with adaptation and motivation. Read on…
Fitstar is great because …
- The tone is pretty lighthearted. It’s not a “GRR! FEEL THE BURN!” mentality. They acknowledge you might shake, and that you might really be “feeling it in your quads,” but it’s encouragement, not drill sergeant admonishment. There are occasional silly jokes and reminders to smile.
- I love that I can turn off the music. (You can also choose your own or use theirs.)
- It figures out what exercises to do, an how many reps of each. This removes a TON of work on my part just figuring out how to exercise – that has been a huge barrier in the past.
- It lets me give feedback about what feels too hard or too easy. Unlike a video, it adapts to my abilities. This increases my “success rate” – if I am asked to do 20 pushups, and that’s too hard, next time, it’ll only ask me to do 10. And if that’s too hard, next time it’ll ask me to do knee pushups or half pushups – an easier variation that lets me feel like I’ve had some success without being a total blowoff.
- Once my baseline is set, it starts increasing the difficulty at a reasonable pace. This ensures I’ll continue to develop beyond my current point.
- It gives me feedback on how I’m doing. “Levels” badges are a huge motivator. These are actual measurements of my strength and give me objective goals to work toward. Leveling up really makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, and that’s a huge motivator.
- I can’t stress how important this is – to feel like I actually have a chance of completing an exercise that is appropriately difficult completely changes the psychological side of exercising. I look forward to exercising. I wonder what exercises I’ll get today. And I pump my fist in the air a couple times per workout when I achieve something I didn’t think I could.
- While I have felt every workout (my muscles feel rubbery for a while afterward), I’ve not injured myself in three weeks. This is actually pretty notable – since I’m not good at pacing myself, I usually overdo it in the first week and have to take time off to heal strained tendons or muscles. I have a little soreness in one heel and one elbow, but it’s more a reminder to warm up a bit and pay attention to form than a “stop and ice this” sort of injury.
On the yoga side:
- This is definitely not an app for beginners. It sequences poses; it doesn’t teach them. You should be comfortable moving between standard poses such as down dog, plank, child, the warrior poses, etc.
- This is strength-building yoga, with some necessary flexibility. This is not relaxation yoga, meditative yoga, or restorative yoga. If you want good nurturing yoga, get Barbara Benagh’s Yoga for Stress Relief. (Or this 3 DVD set)
- It’s not all sun salutations! In fact, I haven’t done a single sun salute to date.
- With the pro version, you can adjust the duration of your session (20/30/45/60 mins) and the difficulty (five levels). I believe those levels take into account your feedback on what’s “too hard” – so if I say side crow pose is too hard, it won’t show up even in my “very difficult” workouts. This creates a lot of different variety on top of the variety that happens as the week-to-week workouts change. This is hugely helpful and motivating – I can just say “give me 30 minutes of hard yoga” and off we go.
- You can see the pose list before starting a workout – makes it easier to choose a workout.