The iPhone is an incredibly powerful aid during a workout — or it can be. I know that’s the usual marketing PR you hear about the iPhone, but I’ll be frank and honest with you: I lost forty pounds by using mine to track my burned and consumed calories last summer. At this point, I don’t want to lose any more weight, but I do need to work to keep it off. And I’m always looking for apps that can help me bulk up and still keep the weight down.
That’s where Workout Plan comes in. Workout Plan is more like a to-do list for your workout than it is anything else. It doesn’t help you find new exercises or demo ones that you don’t understand; instead, it assumes that you already know your way around the gym and just helps remind you what your routines are. I’m a big believer in focused apps, since an app that does one thing extremely well can often be better than an app that does several things decently. Workout Plan is one of those focused apps.
Setting Things Up
Workout Plan looks a little bit like a task manager: The bottom bar has a section for Next, Upcoming, Overdue, Complete and Workouts. Most of these are pretty self-explanatory. Anything you just haven’t done ends up sitting in Overdue, Next allows you to quickly check off the next part of your workout, and Upcoming gives you more of a long term view of your workout list. Any element of your workout that you check off sits under Complete.
Creating a workout is as easy as tapping Workouts and hitting the + symbol on the top-right. From there, you just punch in a a name and get going. You can edit your workout name and add a list of activities to it. When you punch in a name, you have to go through the slightly cumbersome process of tapping a small Settings button to change its associate information (like reps, sets, and weight being lifted — or maybe just the distance or length of a run).
When you’re done entering all the different information — for me, my full workout is a combination of pushups, running, crunches and a little work on my upper body strength — you’ll end up with a list. The OCD among us can make sure that the list is in order. For me, I always do pushups before crunches. I have to — I can’t do them any other way (not for any particular reason apart from my general craziness). For whatever reason, I put crunches in first, but I was able to edit the order of my activities and straighten everything out without a hitch.
Taking Care of Business
When it finally is time for a workout, I hope you’ve been paying attention; The app doesn’t send you a notification. It’s a bit of an odd move, since the scheduling calendar within the app is so flexible, and I’m not sure why it doesn’t do it, but it makes it really easy to skip a workout. Frankly, I was wondering why the Overdue tab was so prominent, but I understood immediately when I didn’t get a notification. If you go on vacation, be sure to disable your active workouts so you don’t have to catch up on what you “missed” when you get back home.
Otherwise, it works exactly as you would likely expect. The Next tab cycles through your ordered activities. When I was finished with my decline pushups, I checked it off and my crunches appeared next, so you never have to tap more than one button to get passed an exercise. If you prefer to see a list of everything you have to do, you can opt to check out the Upcoming tab, which displays your workouts in a list. In that case, tapping on crunches let me check it off or skip it, just like I would have if I was in the Next tab still. It adds a couple more taps to the overall procedure, but for some people, seeing the workout list like a long to-do list will be advantageous.
If you skip a workout (by hitting the red X), it isn’t added to your Overdue tab. It’s basically a flexible way the app lets you adjust for a busy schedule. If you don’t have time to do a workout from that day, you can just skip it without punishment. Likewise, if you have lots of time, you can continue into the workouts for the next few days. It’s a little thing that means a lot and is a good indicator of how Workout Plan values the time you put into your workout every day and values you as a user.
The flexible schedule is really just one example of the way that Workout Plan respects the people who use the app. Good design is mindful of the people who use it and seeks to eliminate as many complications as possible along the way. Usually, people call respectful designs “simple” or “minimalist.” For the most part, Workout Plan is all of these things, but it is particularly just respectful of my time. The great-looking interface is a big part of it. Obvious green checkmarks and red X’s that really stand out against the app’s white background are small details, but it’s the little things that make a difference.
The easiest way to describe the app’s interface is that it looks very similar to a modern to-do app, which is certainly praise. Workout Plan isn’t a gesture-based app, which means that some people will say it isn’t as “modern” as an app like Clear, but for others, it means that this app is extremely usable. I tend to fall in the latter camp, where I usually believe (unless there’s a really good reason for it) that making an app’s user interface as visually obvious as possible is good. Workout Plan does that, and it becomes very efficient.
It took me a few minutes to set up my workout, but putting it on a schedule after that was really easy and the schedule really was flexible. Whether I wanted to repeat it once or many times (or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in my case), it was really easy to set up whatever I thought of throwing at the app.
Get to the Gym
Workout Plan is exactly what its title makes it sound like: it’s an extremely functional and well-designed way to work out every day. It’s easy to get it set up, and it’s just a pleasure to actually use it at the gym. Honestly, the fact that it takes me two seconds to check off part of my workout on the phone and move on to the next activity is a huge timesaver. I haven’t found an equivalent app that’s as easy to use anywhere else on the App Store. The only thing I wish Workout Plan also had was notifications for a workout; some of us (like me) are likely to forget when we need to work out as we move on with our busy lives. But otherwise, I highly recommend it to anybody with slight OCD who spends time at the gym. It’s a big time saver.