Three Fitness Apps to Keep You in Shape

That's me, hitting it hard at a local track.
I’m mostly a marathon runner these days, but cross training is definitely important no matter your discipline. Photo by Kathryn Salvatore.

As you may or may not know, I’m a bit of a health and fitness nut. For the past few years, I’ve mainly been into running, cycling, and bouldering. But regardless of what activity I might be into, I try to maintain a certain level of overall fitness with a focus on core strength and flexibility. For that, I generally turn to a host of exercises from planks and crunches to yoga and pilates. Most of these exercises are stored in my head and used almost daily while others (namely yoga and pilates) are part of routines I do from Wellbeats, an on-demand fitness provider that my apartment complex subscribes to.  

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another workout I do at least weekly (usually on my rest or easy running days). I find HIIT to be incredibly difficult to get through without the help of a coach to push me along and shout out the exercises. 

I’ve used many of different exercise apps over the years and have settled on three free apps I think are great for coaching you through the workouts. I’m sure there are 1,000s of fitness apps available, but these are the best for getting in a quick workout. These are different than fitness-tracking apps such as MapMyRun, Strava, and Runkeeper (Strava is my personal fave among this crowd, by the way). 

A few years ago, a study came up that claimed it had found the perfect 7-minute body workout that was enough to get your blood pumping and make you break out into a light sweat. The study was published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal and was popularized largely from an article in the New York Times. Dozens (100s?) of 7-minute workout apps soon surfaced on the App Store and on Google Play. To be honest, they’re all sort of the same, but I found these first two listed below ideal for their intuitive design, workout tracking, and no-frills approach to fitness. 

  1. J&J Official 7-Minute Workout. I hate to promote a branded app, but this really is fantastic. What makes it so great, is it has the 7-minute workout, but you also have the option to add a two-minute warm up and cool down. The audio cues are sufficient to learn the exercises without having to watch the video example and it doesn’t interrupt your music. What’s more, this app has a “smart workout” feature that allows you to select your fitness level and follow along to a HIIT circuit. I have it set to the max fitness level (level 5) for a mix of moderate and hard exercises. The smart workout is usually about 26 minutes in length before adding the short warm up and cool down. Finally, this app includes a library of all the exercises that you can easily browse to either learn the movements or create your own workout. 
  1. Quick Fit. Again, this features the 7-minute workout with video and verbal instruction. The iPhone-only app also features an intense abdominal workout (Quick Abs), 15-minute yoga routine (Quick Yoga), and a fat-burning workout (Quick 4).  
  2. Mammoth Hunters. Mammoth Hunters is more of a lifestyle app based on circuit training and the paleo diet. I’m mostly vegetarian so I’m not quite sold on the idea, but I do admit the workouts are tough and the exercises are unique (have you ever done reptile pushups?). Like the J&J app, this also has an extensive library of exercises to peruse so you can create your own workouts. 

Bonus: Not in the same category as the above-mentioned apps, but if you work a desk job like me, then you may want to download the Stand Up! app, which sends you alerts throughout the day to tell you to, you guessed it, stand up. I have reminders set for every 20 minutes. Although I usually just stand up and sit back down, I’ve found that’s just enough to give my eyes a break and keep my joints, back, and feet from getting stiff. It’s only available on iTunes, but I’m sure Google Play has plenty of similar apps. 

Do you use any free fitness apps I should check out? Please let me know.


Social Media Rundown: Instagram Hits 1 Billion Users, Lunches IGTV; Facebook Subscription Groups; LinkedIn Kudos

The new IGTV from Instagram in use.
Brands and individual creators jumped right into IGTV.

Big news coming from Instagramland: Not only has the photo-sharing platform surpassed 1 billion monthly active users, but it also just announced IGTV. Despite the unspectacular name, IGTV puts Instagram in direct competition with YouTube and further establishes the mobile platform as the ultimate social media platform for creatives.

Looking beyond the major Instagram news, Facebook ponders ‘subscription groups’ and rolls out an initiative to combat the opioid crisis. Meanwhile, LinkedIn is rolling out a new ‘kudos’ feature.

Be sure to check out the Learn section for social media success tips from National Geographic and all you could possibly want to know about IGTV.

Social Media News:

  • With IGTV, Instagram Takes Aim at YouTube (Wired). On IGTV, long-form vertical videos can go as long as 10 minutes (in-feed videos are still limited to one minute). Some creators with large audiences can post up to 60 minutes of video — National Geographic, for example, used its first episode of “One Strange Rock” for its first video on IGTV, all 47 minutes of it. IGTV videos are all prerecorded, but live video could come later. By the way, the app now has more than 1 billion monthly active users. Read all about IGTV and its user growth in the official announcement on the Instagram info center.
  • Facebook Tests ‘Subscription Groups’ That Charge for Exclusive Content (TechCrunch). I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine ever paying to access a special Facebook sub-group — especially $30 bucks a month. But Facebook has apparently already started to letting Group admins charge $4.99 to $29.99 per month for access to special sub-Groups full of exclusive posts.
  • Facebook to Redirect Users Searching for Opioids to Federal Crisis Help Line (STAT). Facebook users attempting to purchase opioids or seeking out addiction treatment will be instead redirected to info about a federal crisis help line.
  • LinkedIn Adds new ‘Kudos’ Feature to Acknowledge the Contributions of Connections (Social Media Today). Despite the negativity from the article’s author, this seems like a nice new feature for giving public praise to a colleague. LinkedIn Kudos is rolling out now globally in the LinkedIn iOS app, and coming soon to Android and desktop.


  • The 4 Lessons Any Brand Can Learn from Nat Geo’s Social Media Success (Hootsuite). As it turns out, National Geographic is the largest non-celebrity brand on Instagram so they’re clearly doing something right. National Geographic’s social strategy is based on four core guiding principles: Stay true to your brand, go immediate (or live), harness the power of “wow,” and embrace new technology.
  • IGTV: The Ultimate Guide to Instagram’s New Video Platform (Later). This article from Later (the company that provides NEJM’s Instagram landing page) has the main points you need to know about IGTV. If you need to go deeper and enjoy a tidy list, Hootsuite has a nice roundup of the technical aspects and more.

What do you think of IGTV? Seen any good ‘shows’ yet?

Social Media Rundown: Social as a News Source Falls; Facebook Demands Consent for Email/Phone Ad Targeting; IHOP Pulls a Social Media Stunt

It’s been an exciting week in the world of social media, from IHOP flipping the ‘P’ in its name to a ‘B’ in the name of burgers to the harrowing trip of a brave little raccoon to the top of a 23-story building in St. Paul, Minn.

The MPRraccoon scales the 23-story UBS building.
The MPRraccoon was the hero no one expected.

Besides all that, there’s a new report out that says people are turning to social media — specifically Facebook — as a news source considerably less than in the past. Read on for more news in this week’s Rundown.

Social Media News:

  • After Years of Growth, the Use of Social Media for News Is Falling across the World (NiemanLab). People are turning away from Facebook for news. In the U.S., 39 percent of people said they used Facebook as a source of news in 2018, down 9 percentage points from 2017. But messaging apps are picking up the slack. This article is a nice breakdown of a new Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
  • Facebook Demands Advertisers Have Consent for Email/Phone-Based Targeting (TechCrunch). “Starting July 2nd, advertisers will have to declare whether contact info uploaded for ad targeting was collected with proper user consent by them, one of their partners or both. Users will be able to see this info if they opt to block future ads from that business. Facebook had always technically required consent, but it hadn’t previously done much to enforce those rules.”
  • Twitter Wants to Send You Personalized News Notifications (The Next Web). The mobile notifications will be personalized based on user interests. You know, just in case you’re not currently getting enough notifications on your phone.
  • LinkedIn Improves the Relevance of Its Feed with Hashtags (We Are Social Media). You can now personalize your LinkedIn feed with the hashtags you’re most interested in following. This small change should make hashtags more important to include in LinkedIn updates. Hopefully people — and brands — don’t go overboard.


  • Internet Flips out after IHOP Turns the Letter ‘P’ to a ‘B’ for Burgers (ABC News). IHOP officially announced the limited-time name change Monday morning after teasing it on social media asking users to guess what they thought the name would “b”-come. IHOP’s peers were quick to poke fun at the stunt with perhaps the best zinger, of course, coming from Wendy’. As with any social media or PR stunt such as this, there are always lessons to be learned.
  • How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy in 8 Easy Steps (Hootsuite). This Hootsuite post takes you through an eight-step plan to create a social media strategy. From setting goals to running a social media audit, this is a pretty comprehensive blog post, but without being overwhelming.

What social media news caught your eye this week?

Social Media Rundown: Lots of Facebook Headlines; Instagram Algorithm, Explained; Building Social Proof

Another week of news regarding Facebook privacy concerns and other negative headlines for the battered social media giant. It’s OK though, I’m sure we’ll all keep using the social networking site like nothing’s wrong.

Mark Zuckerberg takes a sip of water before Congressional questioning.

Also, be sure to check out the learn section to see how the new Instagram algorithm works, ways to build social proof, and how to make sure your social media marketing is in line with Facebook’s priority of making sure time spent on Facebook is time well spent.

Social Media News:

  • Facebook Says It Accidentally Let Anybody Read Private Posts From 14 Million Users (Business Insider). Facebook discovered a “software bug” that caused millions of status updates that were intended to be posted privately among friends to be public. The bug affected 14 million users, between May 18-27. Affected users will be notified and asked to review their posts from that period.
  • Facebook Will Remove the Trending Topics Section Next Week (The Verge). After a couple years of controversy due to Facebook editors curating the headlines, the company has decided to ditch the trending section. Other ways to deliver news, including breaking news labels and a section that collects local stories, are currently being tested.
  • A New Privacy Problem Could Deepen Facebook’s Legal Trouble (Wired). A New York Times article revealed that Facebook had deals with phone manufacturers that gave them access to personal data about users and their friends in order to re-create a mobile version of Facebook on their devices. Information included relationship status, religion, political leaning, events they planned to attend, and whether the user was online. Facebook disagrees with The New York Times.


  • The New Instagram Algorithm Has Arrived – Here’s How it Works (Later). This could also go in the news section; Instagram recently invited a group of reporters to explain how the feed algorithm works (TechCrunch among that group). The short version is that the algorithm focuses on three core areas: interest, timeliness, and relationship. Secondary factors include frequency, following, and usage. If you’re an IG user, you probably won’t see any posts from several weeks in the past anymore.
  • Why You Should Be Using Your Content to Build Social Proof (Convince & Convert). In this blog post, the author outlines three ways to build social proof: release content consistently, create incentives for people to share, and measure success.
  • How Facebook Marketing is Changing (And How to Be Prepared) (Buffer App Blog). Rather than prioritizing content that might grab a user’s attention, but drive little interaction, Facebook favors the content that sparks conversations and brings people closer together. This helpful chart sums up what Facebook is prioritizing:
Signals that affect Facebook News Feed rankings.
Facebook wants more ‘meaningful interactions,’ as this chart outlines. Image: Buffer.