23 June 2011

Android Apps: Cardio Trainer/Pro

There are a plethora of apps available for your smart-phone to track your workouts. All of them have the same basic features such as GPS mapping, speed, pace, the ability to share with (and potentially annoy) your friends on twitter and Facebook, etc…

Cardio Trainer for the Android adds a couple of features that I found to be worthwhile and entertaining.

To start out, there are two versions available. The free version, and the feature-packed pro version which will cost you $9.99*.

For standard workouts, you click on the “start workout” button and select the type of workout - out of a fairly extensive list - you will be participating in. One nice feature of Cardio Trainer is the fact it has an “auto start” countdown, so you have a user-programmable amount of time to stow your phone in a jersey pocket, or wherever you keep it, and mount your bicycle before the workout starts.

While in the workout mode, you can choose to have an audio notification tell you how far or how long you have gone, and how many calories you have burned. You can also enable it to randomize your audio tracks on your phone for some in-exercise entertainment.

One of my favorite features is the auto-pause. If the GPS notices that you haven’t moved your location in a certain period of time, it will automatically pause your workout, and restart once the GPS indicates movement. For those of us who forget to turn our wireless bike computers back on after a rest stop (who, me?) this is very handy.

After the workout is finished, you have the option of posting your workout to twitter and Facebook (bragging).

The history screen offers another one of my favorite features although this one is more of a “gee-whiz” instead of anything useful. At the top of the history screen, there is a globe that says “how far” under it. Clicking on it gives you a google map with a blue circle on it. The circle represents the total distance of all your workouts, and how far that distance is from your current location. Like I said, “gee-whiz”, but it’s still kind of fun to see a graphical representation of your distance, instead of just numbers.

Upgrading to the Pro version gives you access to specific workout routines, such as time, distance, and calorie goals as well as interval training and the ability to race against yourself. I haven’t used the interval training yet, but I really like the race against yourself feature. It works just how you would guess, it times you against a previous track from your history and gives you updates as to your position in relation to your previous time/speed.

It also has the ability to integrate with a Polar WearLink+ Bluetooth heart rate monitor if you have one (I don’t, but would be willing to review it if anyone from Polar is reading this).

There are other features, such as the ability to set up a workout program to help you achieve a weight loss goal, a widget to place on your home screen, and the ability to see what your friends are up to.

Is it worth it? I really like the auto-start/auto-pause feature that is available with the free basic version, but I don’t know if the “Race against yourself” and the other workouts are enough to justify the $9.99* price tag to me. You can find Cardio Trainer here, and the Pro version here.

*disclosure: I did not pay for the Cardio Trainer Pro. Each day, Amazon offers one paid-for app for free download, and I downloaded this app on the day that it was offered for free.

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