Your Fitness App Has it All Wrong…

…Unless you take into account your psychosocial emotions of the habits you are attempting to change.

Technology within the fitness industry has a few options available to it: tracking data and tracking behaviors (if the person remembers to use it regularly).

Within this mindset, this tech can increase in depth, or track multiple levels of breadth (or superficial data) with respect to the way you change and attenuate behaviors to improving fitness qualities.

There are plenty of apps that can track data, such as sleep quality, day to day readiness for exercising, resting and exercise heart rate, miles logged for running or biking, etc.

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Tracking behavior such as sleep, emotions logged during meals, and even how you feel from day to day will allow you to retroactively look back at your data. If you can understand what you have control over, you are better able to change and regulate these changes to improve quality of life.

Having “apps on apps on apps” all aimed at improving your lifestyle won’t be the determining factor for the footwork necessary for improving quality of life. In fact, it may be the opposite — improving one or two behavior changes that will allow you to create the largest change may improve your quality of life twofold.

As an individual who is working within this industry from both a personal training and strength coach working with athletes, this level of data tracking is very important to me as it will allow me to examine my past techniques and provide best practice for my clients and athletes in the future.

Sometimes it is uncomfortable to change, so these apps are about as useful as buying your significant other a gym membership. Let’s see how the conversation goes when it often leads to, “What do you mean I need a gym membership? Do you not like how I look now?”

Nothing gets accomplished, people’s feelings get hurt, and you’re down a decent chunk of cash for something that won’t be used 10 months out of the year.

Other times it can be as easy as purchasing a free running app, and attempting to beat your previous records from week to week.

However, none of these items guarantee levels of success — none of these items create the results that are the actual point of purchasing said technology.

You can track all you want, and you can improve the effectiveness of your app, but nothing will enable success unless the individual is following the big rocks of success.

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Apps that don’t connect individuals to other live human beings looking for change (which is what the fitness industry relies upon), will be severely lacking with respect to the amount of change that actually occurs.

Sure, I’m slightly biased because I am a professional within this industry. But as long as you improve your quality of life, and you can maintain those results or improve them, the method that you choose is totally up to you — so use apps, connect with people, and make sure your environment supports your healthy change.

Getting uncomfortable is merely part of that process, so allowing for graded exposures to this often uncomfortable process is the best action to take. Fitness apps are merely one more option to have, and sometimes options are not the best way to improve your lifestyle.

Do you have fat loss goals for 2015?

Make it a game, but don’t make it a competition.

Competition implies a winner or loser, and while short term it seems like a good idea, try looking people in the eye and asking them if they want to be a winner or loser if they’ve been attempting to lose fat and weight for the past 10 years. There needs to be a longer evaluation of services rendered in order to communicate this sometimes delicate situation.

A game allows for a literal process to occur — especially in a game that can prove to be fun with achievements and badges, amidst an era of mindless games and apps, this type of gaming can improve behaviors, as opposed to distracting you from your goals.

Looking to increase muscle mass in the New Year?

This goal could include changing how you approach food, or how you approach the gym.

Many men are always looking to increase muscle mass, but I’ve also met a handful of women who cannot seem to put on weight “no matter what”.

And this is a tricky goal because it can come down to behaviors that may not be ultimately true: a fitness app won’t tell you you need to differentiate between eating more protein, less soy based protein, or lifting heavier weights, nor will it inform you how to best alter these behaviors.

Apps won’t guide you along the best path towards utilizing a vegetarian based diet to help improve your muscle growth. Nor will they help you understand how to utilize which lifts to help improve the density of your muscle in the gym.

You can track the amount of information you want, but it won’t improve your ability to digest the correct amount of macronutrients, nor will it goad you into eating past that slight feeling of uncomfortableness.

If 20% of the causes elicits 80% of the effect (see 80/20 rule), then improving how you perceive your goals and meeting these in a realistic manner is probably the most effective strategy you can utilize.

Utilizing apps is great, and for me to say outright in the middle of the “app era” that they aren’t ideal for improving success seems folly, or naive.

But apps do not replace hours in the kitchen eating the correct items for your goals, hours in the gym performing the exercises you need to do to get to your goals, and the constant social stigma that comes along with making attempts at being healthy.

Apps don’t give you that warm fuzzy feeling in your gut when your significant other tells you that you look amazing, nor do apps give you those chills when you successfully hit a personal record that you’ve been training in the gym for weeks, months, and maybe even years on end.

That is work. And work is not magical.

You just need to care enough to convince yourself that the process is worth the goal.

Miguel Aragoncillo is a writer, blogger, dancer, online personal trainer, and strength coach at Cressey Sports Performance. His writing and other work can be found throughout the internet, and his website www.MiguelAragoncillo.com is where most of his thoughts can be found regarding improving quality of life for athletes, dancers, and people of all types. Follow him on Twitter at @MiggsyBogues.

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