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Hate working out? These apps make cardio fun

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | April 22, 2014
In middle school, I was the only kid who joined the track team expecting not to have to run more than 400 meters at a time (I threw discus and shot put). Even at the early age of 11--before I fully understood what working out even was--I knew one thing: I hated cardio.

BeatBurn is a beat-matching app that uses your own music, so you can listen to the songs that motivate you and still hit that perfect, beat-matching pace. The app analyzes your workout as you're working out and chooses the best songs (based on their BPM) to match that pace. So if you're jogging slowly, you'll get songs that are slower and that match your snail-like pace. If you're running faster, you'll get faster tunes. The app also shifts the tempo of songs to match your pace, so you always feel like you're totally in sync with the music that's playing.

BeatBurn also features an interactive personal trainer to guide you through each workout, so you can adjust your pace accordingly. The app tracks your calories burned based on how intense your workout is, and designs special programs around your personal profile. Lolo, the app's developer, also offers a similar app for the elliptical trainer called BeatBurn Elliptical Trainer and one for the stationary bicycle called BeatBurn Indoor Cycling.

Ghost Race

If your biggest competition is yourself, Ghost Race (free; Android) is the app for you. Ghost Race lets you virtually race against yourself in real-time, similar to the way you can race against ghosts of characters in some old-school video games. The free app also lets you race against friends and strangers.

Unlike most of the other apps I've mentioned, Ghost Race isn't an app for indoor use. Because you're racing against yourself or others, you must be racing on a course, be it a course you find on Ghost Race, or a course you create yourself. What's nice is that this means you can see your progress (and your "ghost") on the course's path as you run. You can actually see where you are and where your ghost is at any given time, which helps to motivate you to, well, run faster! The app has three different settings, so you can race people as a runner, a mountain biker, or a road biker.

Ghost Race's ghosting feature is unique: Other apps can't promise a similar experience, because they work both indoors and outdoors.

Cardio Smackdown!

Don't worry, iOS users: Android users aren't the only ones who can race against friends and strangers with an app. Cardio Smackdown! (free; iOS) lets you challenge your buddies to a real-time smack down via Apple's Game Center.

Unlike Ghost Race, Cardio Smackdown works on both a trail and on a treadmill. Just choose your mode — treadmill, elliptical, outdoor run/walk/hike, or outdoor biking — and then challenge a friend to a simultaneous workout. As you run, walk, or hike on your chosen medium, you'll see your friend's progress alongside yours. It won't be a ghost, like in Ghost Race, but you'll see your opponent's time and distance, and that's probably enough. There's nothing like seeing someone else's workout stats to make cardio into a game.


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