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Summary:

Staying fit is particularly important for those of us who spend our days sitting in front of our computers. Exercise provides many benefits, including keeping your brain working better, improved mood, longer lifespan, increased stamina and reduced risk for many health issues. I’ve written before about […]

Motion-X StopwatchStaying fit is particularly important for those of us who spend our days sitting in front of our computers. Exercise provides many benefits, including keeping your brain working better, improved mood, longer lifespan, increased stamina and reduced risk for many health issues. I’ve written before about how I use technology to keep myself on track and motivated about my fitness regime. This weekend, I ran across a great new fitness tool that uses the GPS functionality of my iPhone to automatically map my workouts and provide me with data including speed, distance, altitude, maps, photos and more.

MotionX-GPS for the iPhone comes in two flavors: a free Lite version with somewhat limited functionality and a full version currently available for $2.99. I used the Lite version for my evaluation, but I’m already thinking about upgrading to the paid version. I gave it a pretty good test with a 1.5-hour, 5.3-mile workout over a combination of city streets and a hike up a local mountain, but there are so many features packed into this app that I wasn’t able to test absolutely everything.

To get started, all you need to do is start the stopwatch, and it starts tracking all of your statistics automatically using the iPhone functionality. The stopwatch screen keeps track of your elapsed time, current speed, average speed, maximum speed and distance. The average speed looks about right for me, but I’m a little suspicious of my maximum recorded speed of 10.1 mph and suspect that it was caused by a temporary glitch (I’m just not that fast!).

Motion-X Map Photo ViewYou can also take pictures from the stopwatch view and the pictures are tagged with additional data: time taken, distance from starting point, altitude, and latitude/longitude. The picture also shows up on the map so that you can see exactly where you were when you took the photo. I’ve had some difficulty getting it to display multiple photos from the workout, but I’m not sure if it’s a limitation of the Lite version, a user error or a bug in the software.

After you finish your workout, you can share it with other people via the MotionX community, Twitter, Facebook or email. I’m not a big fan of sending automated messages to Twitter and Facebook, so I opted for email sharing to test this feature. The email contains data about date, time, distance, speeds, altitude, latitude, longitude and more. It comes with a link to Google Maps to see your route on a bigger screen than the one on your iPhone. The email also has attachments that included my photo, and the data in .gpx and .kmz formats, which can be used to export your workout maps and other information to various mapping services.

The app even includes a compass, which is based on GPS data to determine the direction that you’re traveling. Obviously, it only works when you are moving and the iPhone can determine your direction based on your direction of movement, since the iPhone has no built-in magnetic compass. While I wouldn’t rely on it for navigation, it was an interesting use of the technology.

You can also set up waypoints for your starting points, ending points or key milestones along the way. This allows you to see your movement throughout your workout on the map to keep track of your progress toward a location goal.

The biggest downside to this app is the drain on battery life. I started with almost a full charge on my iPhone, and by the end of my 1.5-hour workout, I had used almost half of the charge. They do give you several tools and suggestions to reduce the battery drain, but I wanted to test the experience using mostly the default settings. I suspect that their tips will help with battery life, but you should probably plan to recharge the battery after your workout.

I love being able to see all of this data about my workouts, so I’m going to keep using MotionX-GPS for my outdoor workouts. I still enter the final time and distance results into DailyBurn to keep all of my gym workouts and outdoor workouts results tracked in one place. Ideally, I would like to see the two services integrate together with a “share to DailyBurn” feature.

MotionX-GPS is available from the App Store. The free Lite version includes full tracking functionality but can’t store as many waypoints or tracks as the full version, and is missing some of the customization features of the full version.

What tools do you use for real-time workout tracking?

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  1. Great review! Regarding battery life, you can press the sleep button on top of your iPhone to turn off the screen with MotionX-GPS running. The app will continue collecting data and your battery should last up to 50% longer! Extend battery life further by turning off Bluetooth and WiFi, and turning down your iPhone’s screen brightness in your iPhone Settings.

  2. RunKeeper is a good application that comes in a free “lite” version and a full version. I am using the lite version now and I think I prefer it to MotionX-GPS (I have that as well) for tracking exercise.

    What I like is its sharing and post-exercise map feature. Sharing is easy by linking to a desktop version of the program. From there you can upload or embed maps of your runs/rides (automatic bit.ly of your runs). And within the iPhone itself you can view an interactive map after your run or ride that shows distance, elevation, time in an interface that lets you drag along the route with your finger.

  3. Looks cool.

    You may also want to try a web-based goal tracker, http://www.goalsontrack.com

  4. Blogging Elsewhere at Fast Wonder: Online Community Consulting Saturday, June 13, 2009

    [...] MotionX-GPS iPhone App For Fitness Tracking [...]

  5. Thank you for this useful information. please more post like this i will visit your blog everyday

  6. Ha! Stumbled here while checking out iphone GPS apps. Saw the image of Mt. Tabor and thought how cool – I do that run!

    Cheers!

  7. I use RunKeeper Pro on the iPhone, and it works wonderfully as a fitness app. It just got updated with interval training workout customization too, with audio cues, which is awesome.

  8. I use the RunKeeper also. iPhone GPS apps really uses up the battery. If I start with a full chrage after 2.5hrs (25km cycle/10km run) I have about 25% battery left.

    You can turn the 3G off and just use 2g (E) and that will save your battery also.

    The RunKeeper seems to only takes GPS samples ever 15 to 35 sec and when I am running on a winding path it doesn’t report the distance very well.

    RunKeeper automatically uploads your data to there side that you can share publically.

    I did a blog post GPS Fitness Tracking With iPhone where I show a couple of my workout pictures.

    I wonder if MotionX-GPS has any plans on adding HR monitoring. RunKeeper doesn’t have it. Now that would really kill the battery!

  9. I’ve avoided getting the iPhone because I know I will get sucked into obsession with the different apps!

  10. I’m getting the iPhone this week. Thanks for the head’s up on a very cool fitness app!

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