Monday, May 23, 2011

Nike Training Club

For the iPhone users out there, I wanted to talk about the Nike Training Club App.  This is a fantastic free program that has an enormous selection of strength training workouts.  And the workouts it has are exactly what I think work best for most people-stability exercises that use mostly your own body weight (some of the exercises use free-weights, but all you need are two 10-15 lb dumbbells and a medicine ball.)  What these types of workouts do is they work multiple muscles groups at once, with a heavy emphasis on your core.  This type of strength training builds very practical strength, as well as improving balance and coordination.

The program is easy and fun to use; first you pick a goal (one of several on a scale of leaner to bulkier), then you pick a difficulty level, then you choose a workout in that catagory.  The workouts are 30-60 minutes long, and it moves you quickly from one activity to the next, switching as often as every thirty seconds.  No one rep is extremely difficult, but you come to quickly realize that a minute of pushups is an aweful lot.  There are breaks, but they are few and far between (like, 2 one-minute rests in half an hour).  This pace keeps you breathing hard the entire time, so not only are you building muscle, but you are getting a solid cardiovascular workout as well.

I've had trouble in the past learning new workouts from digital sources, because often what you will find is a written description with maybe a picture or two.  This can leave you unsure if you are really doing the exercise right.  But the Nike Training Club solves that by giving you high quality video of every exercise, several repetitions shot from multiple angles.  This is really what makes the app work, because it is crystal clear how how to do each exercise.

It also has some terrific interactive features: in the middle of your crazy ivans, a voice will chime in giving you a tip on how to improve your form.  Or when you are almost done with a set of around-the-world lunges, you will hear, "15 seconds left, almost done!"  It feels like you have a personal trainer moving you through the workouts.  And after you finish each workout, you get points, and as your point total increases, you get special titles like, "Challenger" and "Fighter".  This may sound a little corny, but when you are worn out after a killer set, it is a great boost.  Nike recently added a feature that unlocks special workouts once you get to certain levels.  The whole thing is designed to give you the feeling that you are moving forward and setting goals, which is exactly what you want from an exercise program.

Because of all of the video, the App is something like 700 megabytes, so don't be surprised if it takes you an hour to download.  It is totally worth the weight.

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