My initial experience with Fitbod App
As a child I was always active. My youth was spent either playing on the football field or cycling with friends. As I entered my teens, football played a greater role in my life and I regularly played or trained 4–5 times a week.
Roll forward a few years and college, university and part-time work absorbed the majority of my time meaning football soon became a happy memory. To maintain my ideal weight and fitness I chose to join a local gym. My self-planned gym exercises, in addition to my active part-time job, helped me maintain my fitness.
Now in my mid-thirties I’m still an active gym member, however, its these “mid-thirties” that make the gym going onerous. My less active career, alongside my less active metabolism, means maintaining or even achieving the fitness level I had in my teenage years is extremely difficult. Staying in-shape and being in-tune with my body is important to me as my weight and skin condition reflect the general condition of my body. My body tells me when I’m unfit and it shows when I’m unhealthy, so my own amateur workout plans no longer provide the results I need to stay in-shape.
As a result, I needed to search for a new professional fitness app — an app that could hopefully restore the levels of fitness I once had as a teenager and an app that can transform some of my wobble into something more solid.
I explored many fitness apps available on the iOS App Store. I gave each a one week trial at the gym and if I felt there were positives, I’d extend the use into a second week. I won’t discuss the apps I tested and disregarded. Instead, I want to use this post to feedback how Fitbod has satisfied almost all of my expectations going into this process.
Put simply, Fitbod creates a personalised workout plan to suit your gym needs.
A more detailed description would characterise Fitbod as an app that provides a specific workout based on available equipment, cardio or strength preference, muscle group recovery, workout duration and recent routines. It connects with Apple Health, provides an Apple Watch App and sends notifications of rest periods, recent workouts and upcoming workouts. It allows you to customise “your gym”, removing any exercise that your gym does not provide.
An early observation was the easy on-boarding experience. As a user experience designer, I’m aware of the importance that the on-boarding process plays and I was impressed with the simplicity and ease of Fitbod’s initial setup. An on-boarding experience is the initial setup required before a user can start to use an application. Fitbod required body measurements and demographic information to start and this was made effortless via it’s connection to Apple Health. The next step was to choose the body type or fitness goal you’d like to aim towards. The concise title, description and depicting image enhanced the simplicity of this task. Now I’d like to discuss using the app itself.
Variety & Muscle Group Recovery
My self-managed workout is one that soon becomes monotonous. Previously, I used Apple Notes to track workouts for each muscle group. I endeavoured to track weight, volume and reps though the manual overhead of Apple Notes often meant I failed to do so. An additional disadvantage was that this is a self-managed process meaning I only track the equipment I use at the gym. I’m not encouraged to explore different ways of using existing equipment or to explore using new equipment.
Fitbod offers a various amount of exercises with 150+ available. Exercises are category based but these workouts can be customised to include cardio, bodyweight only, bodyweight with equipment and resistance band exercises. It also offers stretching routines, kettlebell and rope exercises.
As Fitbod considers muscle group recovery, it recomends workouts for secondary muscle groups to prevent injury to those recently worked. This feature offers a varied workout allowing me to confidently work new muscle groups each week without the risk of injury.
Fitbod also provides the option for workouts that don’t require machine equipment. This produces a variety of workouts that concentrate on using the floor and dumbbells meaning the app is useful for those operating home workouts. As Fitbod considers muscle fatigue and has an extensive selection of available workouts, each new workout is varied, refreshing and achievable.
Fitbod contains instruction and videos for each individual workout. If opting to watch the video, you’re presented with a 5–10 second looping video of a trainer performing the exercise. If opting to read the instruction, the instructions describe in detail the correct form and posture. As these instructions are presented within the workout itself, there is no need to navigate away from logging your current set or repetitions.
What I’ve learned from this is that form, posture and technique are incredibly important. It’s not the volume of lift, it’s how you lift. Thanks to the instructions my technique has vastly improved which has resulted in improved muscle definition.
The additional education element is due to Fitbod’s extensive exercise list. Offering multiple workout options for the same piece of equipment not only improves my apparatus knowledge but also provides me with a more varied workout.
Fitbod allows generated workouts to be amended during exercise. If an exercise is unachievable, the exercise can be replaced for a like-for-like exercise ensuring the muscle group is still targeted. The volume of weight can also be adjusted during workout as can the number of repetitions and sets.
When nearing the end of your workout, you’re able to delete any exercises that you do not have time to complete or are physically unable to complete.
The Fitbod user interface offers the ability to easily adjust the number of sets, weight or add additional sets if required.
The order in which exercises are completed is not mandatory which helps if equipment is temporarily unavailable. This gives control to the gym goer as it means workouts can be continued without lowering their heart rate.
The variety of workouts and low effort to create a new workout maintains my motivation for working out.
Fitbod also sends ‘exercise day’ notifications which show my exercises for the upcoming session. These notifications can be changed so they’re delivered at a suitable time to increases their value.
Weekly emails present a wealth of information ranging from total volume lifted to the total number of individual sets. Accompanied by info graphics and charts plus indications of new records, these drive as motivating factors to workout the following week. The detail in each email can also be found within each workout in the app itself meaning records can be tracked during training sessions.
Motivation also comes from seeing physical results. It’s a result of the Fitbod app that I’m witnessing physical changes to my body and these positive changes are my biggest driver to continue with this fantastic app.
There are a few adjustments I’d personally change from a user interface perspective.
Greater affordance applied to the ‘start workout’ button.
Reasoning: Now an advanced user, my primary goal is to start a new workout each time I use the app.
Additional detail on Fitness Goal
Reasoning: As a user I’d like to learn more about what’s required to achieve my selected goal. For instance, when selecting ‘muscle tone’ it would be benefit if this described the set volume and set weight needed to achieve the look. E.G this workout often requires a high-volume or sets and repetitions with low to manageable weight volume. The selected goal could also describe or link to typical dietary requirements to help achieve it.
Launch view to be the next workout
Reasoning: As I trust Fitbod to accurately generate my next workout considering my muscle recovery percentage, opening the application on the muscle recovery view does not add a great deal of value. In its current implementation, my first task as a user is to tap onto the next navigation item which is to view my next workout.
Optional light theme
Reasoning: Purely visual but the preference amongst users for dark/light theme is typically evenly split.
My UI Enhancements
I’ve increased the visual affordance of the interactive UI elements. The application now launches on the new workout screen with greater affordance applied to the start workout button. The start workout button positioning is now closely tied to the workout itself. The disadvantage to this however is that it removes the fixed global positioning.
I have hidden the muscle percentages of the new workout behind a downward chevron, these can be accessed if requested. I’ve also applied a light UI to demonstrate how this may appear.
These are only a few enhancements from my own perspective so it would be interesting to hear other users views.
Thank you Fitbod for an excellent application!
The past months have been difficult and upsetting for many and it’s required me to consider my mental health in addition to my physical health. As a result, I’ve started to build my own app that offers fitness workouts like those in Fitbod alongside exercises for the mind and heart to help you feel calm and happy. As the UK is in lockdown, all of my exercises (including fitness) can be completed at home without equipment. If you’re interested, check it out here.