iPhone App Review: Oracle Fitness

iPhone App Review: Oracle Fitness

June 13th, 2011 by

An oracle is something with authority, something that tells you what to do. A lot of us need that at the gym, someone to tell us how to use the machines in both a physical sense and how to combine the machines’ functions in order to produce the best future results for our bodies. Normally a fitness instructor or trainer would do this, but to keep a personal trainer involved in your workout can get very expensive. Some gyms include a basic instructional session in their membership but, as I’m finding out for myself, one year later you’ll be doing the same workout and find yourself bored to tears.

Oracle Fitness by AESG Fitness LLC attempts to bridge that gap by giving you an intelligent fitness regimen oracle in the palm of your hand. Unlike other workout apps that ask a series of questions and then hand you one of several pre-programmed routines, Oracle Fitness has a sophisticated technical back-end running that takes your answers and your desired fitness level and intelligently builds a customized workout. Specific machines and equipment can be included or excluded, specific exercises can be added or removed, and you can see your workout several days in advance in order to better plan your sessions.

How It Works

Initially you answer a series of questions about your age, gender, and what days per week you have available to exercise as well as how many hours per day. You indicate your general level of experience with exercise, as well as your current fitness level, and then check off what workout resources you have at your disposal. For instance if you’re working out in your garage you may have dumbbells, a pull up bar, and the ability to bike or jog. Gym membership? Maybe you have all that plus an elliptical, StairMaster, or even include the swimming pool in your workout. You then indicate your desired ultimate goal from your workout, from a list of a dozen or so options. Maybe you’re a woman and want to get toned and trim, or you’re an athlete and want to train for stamina or strength. There’s even an over-50 option, a weight loss option, and many others.

Saving these options sends them to a server that computes a fitness routine based on the factors you have selected. The difference between this and other workout apps is that the routine is generated dynamically for each user, and has a bit of randomization included to keep your body and your mind guessing. I can personally attest to how boring it is doing the same fitness routine week after week.

You can disable specific exercises from within the app or on the “Today’s Workout” screen when the exercise comes up. You can also email the workout from within the app, or just mark the day “off” if your schedule changes and you need to put fitness on hold for a day. You can also adjust your goals and parameters at any time and re-calculate your workout, though the app warns that some changes may not result in a different workout until the following week.

Each workout is also a clickable link on the day that you do it, so that you can see a description of how it’s done and, for some routines, see a video demonstration as well.

Pros And Cons

Oracle Fitness is really a fantastic fitness app, and I can’t stress that enough. It has basically one feature, and that’s to build a workout that will keep you in shape and motivated. Most other apps could simply be replaced by any number of web sites or reference books, since they’re building a fitness routine from a static list of exercises hard-coded into the app itself. Oracle Fitness on the other hand could theoretically have near-limitless supply of workouts depending on your parameters, goals, and changes they make to the database on the back end. It’s a great system, the app is reasonably fast (it is building the pages on-the-fly, so there’s some minor lag while you wait for the data), and the workouts seem varied and effective.

A quick example from my use of the app yields a cardio-intensive bike ride today, I’m off tomorrow, but Wednesday I’m in the gym for some resistance and core work followed by more light cardio. Just looking at the regimen for the week has me excited to go to the gym, and I’m even thinking of the possibilities for when I travel: rather than trying to find a gym I can just un-check all of the items involving equipment and let the app build a workout that I can do in and around my hotel.

The app’s main strength is of course it’s Achilles Heel (we have a Greek theme going on here). If you have no internet connection then you may have trouble pulling up a workout. That may be the best use of the email feature: generate the workout in the morning and then email it to yourself, in case your gym has bad reception.

Overall

Oracle Fitness is a must-have fitness app for people just starting to get in shape, for those who are getting bored with their routine and want something different, or even for anyone that wants to mix things up from time to time and keep their body guessing.

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