The Best Fitness Apps and Tech for Pros in 2021

The public’s perception of fitness is transitioning toward a more holistic perspective. Given the extreme circumstances of the past year, many people are realizing the interconnectedness of their body, mind and spirit. The fitness industry’s perception of the public is growing/shifting, becoming more agile in how services are made available and the very idea of “fitness” is expanding into a more holistic health understanding of wellness. These factors have also created a shift in the development of fitness apps and technologies as well.

Consider these recently published trends:

  • The pandemic has adversely affected the mental health of all; 64% of respondents to a recent survey felt that the COVID-19 situation had worsened their mental health. To counter this, the adoption of well-being-oriented digital apps focusing on mindfulness and meditation boomed in 2020.
  • The same survey revealed that 42% of respondents reported using these apps at least once every two days, and Club Industry named mental wellness as the number 2 trend of the year, with gyms offering more holistic classes and with wearables offering more options to track stress-reduction efforts.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine’s Worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2021 identified online training as number 1 and wearable technology as number 2. Technology is reaching those who not only want to get fit, but those who have chronic conditions as well.
  • An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association states the silver lining of this crisis (COVID-19) is that it has accelerated the delivery of remote care for those with chronic conditions.

This new environment for 2021 and beyond, one where people are seeking wellness and well-being, swings the door open for a more complete approach for certified professionals. To determine which app and tech is best for your professional practice, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which app will be most appealing to my clients?
  • How many times a day or week will my client use/interact with the app?
  • Which apps will provide a deeper, more relevant connection opportunity for me with my client without increasing my time/schedule commitment?
  • Which apps/tech, when applied in asynchronous ways, can be a critical element in freeing me from the “trading time for money” model, while increasing the client’s perceived value of my services?  

I tapped into my previous career in the IT field and my nearly 10 years of experience designing and delivering health coaching and personal training in a 100% virtual manner to select the following apps and technology. However, the real determinant of which app or tech is best for you, and your business, is you.

Best Apps/Platforms to Deliver Your Full Services

Trainerize is a platform designed for health and exercise professionals and includes workout and nutrition planning and tracking, in-app payment processing and client management. This platform offers habit coaching functionality and support, including a library of habits delineated by pillars of health. Video workout streaming and coaching capability also is offered and supported within the app/platform. You can get started supporting multiple clients for less than $5 a month and it is available for iOS or Android and on Apple Watch. You can choose to brand your Trainerize app with your custom logo for a one-time set-up fee of $99, which is a powerful and affordable option to extend your brand if you’re a small or single-person operation.

Healthie is an all-in-one practice management and telehealth tool for wellness professionals that provides scheduling, telehealth/virtual care, including video chat w/individuals or groups and secure video consults, secure chat messaging, charting templates such as SOAP, client forms with e-signature, payment processing and bill generation. Client education sessions, including document sharing and video capability as well as HIPAA compliant, is included. You can start supporting multiple clients for less than $30 a month.           

Best Apps to Engage Your Clients About Nutrition

Lose It! is one of the most widely used weight-loss apps and is designed to help people lose weight through calorie counting. The free version allows the creation of a weight-loss plan based on body composition and activity level, and progress is tracked through calorie counting and exercise. Friends can be added and the app syncs to Apple Health and the Apple Watch. An annual fee of $39.99 provides advanced tracking of macronutrients and more. If the client adds you as a friend, you may have connection opportunities related to their food choices and plans.    

ATE: The Mindful Food Journal is a visual, mindful and nonjudgmental approach to building a more meaningful relationship with food. This app makes tracking each meal as simple as taking a photo. Rather than calorie counting, it promotes self-awareness as a path to an empowering relationship with food. Friends can be added, and it syncs to Apple Health and the Apple Watch. Users can gain premium access for an annual fee of $44.99; however ,it is free when they are connected to a coach. Coaches are provided a dashboard to see their clients’ progress in real-time, private and group chat and other functionality starting at $30 a month for up to 10 clients. Open-ended questions, reflections and experiments are part of this app to increase coach/client engagement.   

SuperCook is a recipe discovery app offering a personalized menu of recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand. This is both a free app and website and it is a wonderful tool to engage your client’s curiosity about food and nutrition. For example, for clients who struggle to devise ways to cook/prepare “healthy” foods, this app offers a nutrition breakdown of recipes.

Best Tech Wearable to Track Movement and Beyond

The two best overall wearables are the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Fitbit Sense. Both include comparable tracking of fitness and health metrics including innovations such as ECG and blood oxygen. Fitbit is now owned by Google, so both watches are supported by two of the largest technology companies. In general, the Apple Watch usually runs about $100 more than the Fitbit, which offers a much longer battery life. Apple just launched Apple Fitness+, which offers expert-led workouts integrated with metrics from the watch, such as heart rate. The service is provided free for three months with the purchase of new Apple Watch, while existing owners receive one month of free service.

Best Meditation and Mindfulness Apps

Calm is focused on relaxation, meditation and sleep, with a “mission to make the world happier and healthier.” This popular app offers guided sessions, breathing exercises, visualizations, sleep stories and music designed to assist focus and relaxation. Calm is offered for one year at just under $70.

Headspace presents mindfulness and mediation as a learnable process to relieve stress and anxiety, increase positive moods and focus, and improve sleep. This app offers a wide assortment of mediations and guided sessions, providing structure for the less experienced and space for the pros. Headspace is offered for one year at just under $70.               

Clients crave engagement and wellness partners with whom they can venture forward to achieve their health and wellness goals. Whole people are in need of whole solutions, so position your practice to move beyond transactions and into transformations by committing to serve the whole person.

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