BeatBurn Treadmill/Outdoor Trainer was our first release, so it seems appropriate to dig into some of the thoughts behind our flagship app (which are really the same philosophies concerning everything we build at lolo).
The first interactive personal trainer
When we first entered the crowded fitness app marketplace back in 2010 (crowded even then), we saw a lot of decent ideas, but no one really figured out the basic thing people were looking for - a personal trainer in their pocket. People were searching for a knowledgable fitness source that could guide them through an effective workout, but most had to settle for what was available - DVDs stuffed into app skins, slide shows of exercise photos, text lists of workouts, trackers, and timers. They all had their uses, but the promise offered by apps was somewhat lacking.
I’m not saying we created the perfect fitness app, but we focused not only on the things people wanted, but on the things that would make the often arduous process of exercise more enjoyable. Our goal from the start was to create an app that made people switch from dreading their workouts, to looking forward to them. Ultimately, the only way to get results is to consistently exercise, and our goal was to trick you into actually liking your workouts. Studies have found that when people enjoy their workouts, they snack less later to compensate for all the calories burned. We have decades of experience here at lolo training people, and we continuously research both the physiological and psychological aspects of diet and exercise to help our clients get great results in the fastest time possible.
Fitness the lolo way
BeatBurn is an excellent example of the lolo training philosophy. It’s really the app where we solidified our training style in the first place.
A customized experience
From the very beginning, we took the approach that one size does not fit all. People expect an expensive personal trainer to customize their training program to their abilities, and they should expect no less from a personal training app. We designed BeatBurn (and all our subsequent apps) to take someone’s fitness level and available equipment into account and give him or her a program that is doable, yet challenging from day 1.
Set it and forget it
One of the more frustrating aspects of most fitness apps is the amount of touching required to advance through a workout (many apps have gotten better about this, but plenty of these “hands on” apps still exist). You don’t want to keep handling your phone every few seconds, especially once you get a good sweat going. We wanted BeatBurn to be a personal trainer, which means it should be able to guide you each step of the way without the need to ever grab your phone. Immersion is an important part of enjoyment, and the less we interrupt you with required button presses, the more you can sink into the enjoyment of the workout experience.
Even though you don’t need to grab your phone, sometimes you may want to. Maybe you’re not feeling your best during a workout and need to turn it down. Maybe you’re having a great day and you’re ready for a little more challenge. Obviously the greatest benefit of a live personal trainer is he or she can adjust the program when you’re struggling, ready for more, or simply bored and wanting to change it up. We knew that our fitness clients needed this same level of control so they could feel in control of their own fitness. Not having control of a program that is too fast or too slow for your needs can lead to frustration, boredom, poor results, or even injury. Maintaining that immersion I mentioned earlier is only possible if the workout feels “just right.” You don’t need to touch your phone at any point in your workout, but if you want to adjust the intensity, you can do so with ease.
Another huge benefit of a live personal trainer is that he or she will progressively increase the difficulty of your fitness routine to continuously challenge you as your fitness improves. Without progression in your workouts, you can only advance so far. To truly reach your goals, you need to keep challenging yourself, and this is one the biggest places where most fitness apps are lacking. Quite frankly it’s where most fitness websites, magazine articles, books, DVDs, etc. are lacking. You can get your one workout from these sources, but your body will quickly adapt and the benefits will stall just as fast.
High Intensity Interval Training
As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, high intensity interval training allows you to get better results in a shorter amount of time than working out at a continuous intensity for a longer period of time. Pushing yourself hard for short bursts allows you to burn more calories (including during the rest breaks), it has been shown to instill superior cardiovascular health and endurance gains, and it will cause your body to burn more fat for up to 24 hours afterwards.
I know some people prefer a longer workout, so we included those options in BeatBurn as well, but they still rely on intervals to make sure you get the most out of each workout and to ensure there is enough variety in your workout to keep it interesting (more on that later).
Why music matters
Our unique beat-sync technology is probably one of our best features. For most people, music is already an important component of their workouts, but research shows that music can be far more than just a distraction. Our bodies naturally respond to the beat, and using that driving beat as a training tool will not only make your workouts feel easier, but you’ll get better results.
Dr. Costas Karageorghis, who has spent more than 20 years studying the physiological effects of music during exercise, explains, “Music is like a legal drug for athletes. It can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent and speed and performance by as much as 20 percent.”
Dr. Karageorghis has identified three factors concerning why music can have such a positive impact on exercise performance:
1. People tend to move in time with synchronous sounds. Everyone has felt this at one time or another. Whether you’re bobbing your head in time with the music or hopping out of your chair to dance along, we instinctively respond to a strong beat. This same instinct can cause you to reflexively push harder and perform better during exercise. In fact, in our testing on stationary bikes and elliptical machines, we found that people naturally fell into the exact pace associated with that beat without us ever having to tell them how fast they should go.
2. Music tends to arouse people to action. Songs with a strong beat make people want to move rather than sit still. Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to exercise, but a driving beat can help increase your subconscious desire to get up and move. Every little trick helps!
3. Music tends to distract the exerciser from discomfort. Not only does an up tempo beat drive your desire to push yourself harder during exercise, but it also distracts your brain from that exertion. This means that even though you’re working harder than you normally would, the effort will feel easier.
It all adds up to one powerful fact, when you workout to music at the proper tempo, you will feel more eager to move, you’ll push yourself harder than you would otherwise (leading to faster results), and you’ll actually feel good as you do it. Beat-sync is more than just a fun gimmick, it’s a powerful tool that will help you reach your goal.
Most people don’t push themselves on their own
We’ve seen some copycat apps pop up since we created beat-sync, but they’re still missing the point. Starting to workout and then having the app match the pace you chose is backwards. To get the biggest benefit from your music, you want the beat to set the pace you should go so that your body naturally falls into this more challenging pace.
Your body has evolved to consume as many calories as possible and burn as few as possible, and it has all kinds of defense mechanisms to make sure you don’t push yourself to hard. Studies have found that most people underestimate how hard they are exercising. It’s why people go to a personal trainer or join a group fitness class or hit a boot camp, because they need someone to push them hard enough to actually get results. This is where the other tempo shifting apps get it wrong. BeatBurn changes the beat of your music to match the pace you need to go if you want to get results.
We’ve had hundreds of people tell us they never felt like they got a good workout on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical machine before, and then they tried BeatBurn and were shocked by what a great workout it was (and by how easily they got through it). Like I said in the beginning, we tricked their brains into enjoying their workouts so they could push themselves hard enough to burn some real calories.
More than just music
Music is a big factor in how we distract your brain and make the time fly by, but it isn’t the only bit of research we used to refine BeatBurn and the lolo training philosophy. We looked to research from those like Ryan Rhodes, a professor of behavioral medicine at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, who has co-written several recent reviews and conducted numerous exercise-intention experiments. His findings show that the key to long-term commitment to fitness requires finding a mode of exercise that offers novelty, variety, and competence.
Keys to Fitness Commitment:
1. Novelty: Our brains crave novelty. Anything new is automatically more interesting than the familiar. When this comes to BeatBurn, we made sure that you never do the same workout twice. Every workout is built on the fly to maximize variety, and to allow you to interact with the workout and change what comes next at any time. Doing the same workout day after day will get boring fast, and that could cause your commitment to fitness to slip. If you never have a chance to get bored with your program then you’re far more likely to stick with it long term.
2. Variety: Novelty and variety go together in a sense, but there is an important difference. If you had to continuously run for a randomly assigned time of anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes each day, it would be novel, but it would still be pretty dull. Variety refers to how frequently things change within the workout. We make sure to keep each workout segment short so that your mind never grows bored with what you’re doing. Constant change is key to making the time fly by each workout, and the perception that time is flying by greatly increases the enjoyment. Time flies when you’re having fun after all.
3. Competence: Competence refers to how competent you feel at that particular activity. It’s why running and walking are typically the go-to exercise choices for most people. Even if they don’t enjoy it, they know how to do it and don’t feel lost, confused, or foolish while they workout. On the flip side, it’s also why many beginners avoid lifting weights. Since most people don’t have any knowledge base concerning how to lift weights correctly, they avoid the emotional discomfort that may come from doing something foolish (especially in front of others in a gym). Whether it’s walking or performing olympic lifts, we make sure all of our lolo apps are loaded with all the information people need to perform each workout with confidence.
Enjoy what you do and you’ll do it more.
People drastically underestimate the importance of enjoying their workouts. The more it feels like drudgery, the more likely you are to eat something unhealthy afterwards to reward yourself for all that suffering, plus you’ll start finding more and more reasons to skip future workouts. Our focus with BeatBurn (and with all of our fitness apps) is to make the effort of burning calories and improving your fitness as enjoyable as possible. We’ve done the research to make sure you get the best results for your effort, all you have to do is enjoy the ride.