(Hey peeps! There’s a new review of the updated app! Check it out here! -Chris)
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the You Are Your Own Gym program from Mark Lauren.
I’ve had the book for over 6 months now, and it’s great. I love the programs; I love the exercises; I love everything about the book.
However, I’m no gym rat. I really suck at counting reps, or keeping track of my sets (is this the fourth time through or the third?) and I find it incredibly awkward to time intervals, especially where I need to rest for a certain length of time. Working those fiddly little buttons on the timer, resetting it every 30 seconds, drives me nuts.
Not only do I suck at monitoring my workout, I’m also incredibly cheap. Up until about a month ago, I could count the number of mobile apps I’d paid for on less than one finger. Yup, that’s right, zero. If it costs money, I’ll spend time looking for a free version (or building my own).
But that all changed when I spoke to my friend — who hadn’t bought the book — showed me the You Are Your Own Gym App on his iPod Touch. I was amazed. This little app seemed to be just what I needed to keep my workouts on track. So I went home, pulled out my brand-spanking new Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray, and bought the app, which cost me a whopping $1.99.
It’s the best two bucks I’ve ever spent. I wouldn’t say that the app is a replacement for the book; in fact, the book really is required reading to give you the physiology and nutritional background of the program, as well as explaining the exercises — and their variations — in further detail. However, the app really is a godsend for those of us who work out solo and need something to keep us on track.
I know you want a closer look at the app — let’s go!
The main screen is quite straightforward. Pressing Menu from this screen will bring up the application settings, where you can turn some vary basic workout options on or off: Variable Set Ladders, Show Workout Summary, Capture Reps, and Animate Gallery Transitions. Pretty straightforward stuff. The main selections here are Exercises, Training Tools, News & Social, and Based on the Best Selling Book. Since the last two menu items are just links to Facebook and Amazon, respectively, we’ll just skip those. The real meat of the program is in the first two selections, so we’ll look at those two in more detail.
Mark Lauren subtitles his book You Are Your Own Gym as “The bible of bodyweight exercises”, and this section of the app is pretty much your portable bible of bodyweight exercises. The exercises are grouped into the four main categories: Push, Pull, Leg, and Core. There’s also an All section, which just collects all of the exercises into one big alphabetized list. The only thing missing here is a Search function, but you can easily scroll through the exercises to find what you’re looking for.
Selecting an exercise brings you to the Variations screen, where you can select the difficulty level. Depending on the exercise (and how masochistic you are), you can select from Easy, Semi-easy, Moderate, Semi-hard, and Hard. Once you’ve selected your difficulty level, the exercise is presented to you as a series of illustrated slides, where a series of photos and a text description takes you through the movements of the exercise. You can slide back and forth through the images, or you can also click for a more detailed text description of the exercise.
It’s a really handy reference, and I think the app actually is better than the book at showing the individual movements of the exercise. There’s something about being able to slide through the photos and seeing the exercise come alive that really helps you understand the proper way to execute the movements. Rumor has it that the next version of the app will have video for each of the exercises. I can’t wait for that addition!
“Well, that’s all well and good,” you say, “but what about the part where it’s become your best workout buddy?” Just you wait, peeps — that magic happens in the individual program section!
This is where the app really shines for me. The core of You Are Your Own Gym revolves around a set of predefined programs that will help you move up the fitness ladder at a pace that works for you. These programs are replicated in the app, but the app takes the programs to a level that you just can’t achieve in a book. It’s almost like having a trainer, timer, and exercise reference in your pocket. It’s probably the closest I’ve seen to perfection in a compact exercise app.
Select a program from the list provided; you can choose from one of the classic 10 Week programs that Mark Lauren features in his book, or you can select a Quick Workout where you can set the difficulty, the time limit, and let the app take you through a circuit of exercises tailored to your fitness level. Pure genius.
One of the really nice features of the You Are Your Own Gym program is the ability to swap around exercises in your programs; a feature that Mark Lauren himself encourages. The app doesn’t let you down in this respect; once you have selected your 10 Week program and your list of exercises shows up on-screen, you can modify each individual exercise, or difficulty level, in the routine to tailor it exactly to your needs. Not interested in modifying anything? Then just hit “Start Workout” and you’ll be escorted through the entire workout.
During your workout, a timer keeps track of how long you need to perform each exercise for, along with a verbal warning when there are 30 seconds left for your current reps. If you’re doing ladder workouts, the app will also keep track of your ladder rep counts so you don’t have to. For me, this feature alone makes the app a must-have. In my exercise-induced brain fog, I can never remember if I am supposed to ladder up to seven reps…or was it eight? All I need to do is hit the “Completed Reps” button and the app keeps track of all that for me. Bliss.
The app also boasts a set of really cool and flexible timers. You’re given an Interval timer, a Superset timer, a Ladder timer, a Stapper timer, and my all-time favorite, the Tabata timer! Each individual timer allows you to modify any and all of the timer parameters — reps, sets, and duration — in order to fit whatever type of workout you’re doing.
It’s apparent a lot of thought has gone into this app, and I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground about the next release of the app which I believe is slated for later this year. If the first YAYOG app is any indication, the next generation app is sure to become a regular part of my workout as well.
If you’re looking for the book, it’s available from Amazon. I highly recommend that if you’re looking to follow the program, get the book as well. The book and the app are excellent companions for each other.