I’ve already discussed how you should start learning to integrate push-ups into your routine as a fitness staple. That said, recording your progress can be cumbersome (and certainly boring). What better way to track your workouts, adjust to the ease (or difficulty) you’re having, and just make the ordeal a bit more fun, than a push-ups app? I’m also a huge fan of gamification, so an app is a great start in achieving that benefit.
This review is for the mobile app, “Push Ups”, by NorthPark. Specifically, I’m basing my review on the Android flavor used with my Google Nexus 5.
Support for this app appears to be offered via Tumblr for iOS. However, I saw no posts there at the time of writing this review. This seems like an odd way to offer support, but they may just plan to use it for a running change log of new features and fixed bugs on each release.
For Android, there is an [cloak-email email=”firstname.lastname@example.org”]email address[/cloak-email] you can send messages to. This is more fitting, although the address is not a company/professional email address; it’s a Gmail account. I also thought a similar email would be used for the iOS flavor, but I couldn’t find one.
What I Like
There is a lot I like about this app. It has a clean design and though there are ads, they are minimal.
Proximity Sensor Support
The use of the device’s proximity sensor is brilliant. Whether it was NorthPark’s idea or not, it’s still a wonderful use of that sensor. You don’t have to touch the screen if your device has such a sensor. You just need to get close. Sometimes, the sensor doesn’t work (or the app doesn’t record a rep properly), but I’m betting this is more of a device issue (I rarely have issues with it).
Likewise, if your device doesn’t support proximity detection, you can simply tap the screen with your nose or chin for a rep to count. This is a good fallback for automatically logging your reps.
Finally, if you just can’t dip down far enough to touch the screen or trigger the proximity detector (perhaps that would put your elbow at more than a 90-degree angle, which isn’t really a good idea), you can just count the reps yourself, then tap the “Complete” button to log the total.
My wife suggests putting a yoga block (or similar platform) under your phone to raise it some. This still gives you that great feedback of the automatic counter without the need to descend all the way down to the floor.
Easy Progress Stepping
When you first use this app, you will be asked to do as many push-ups as you can. This is your initial assessment. The app uses your single set rep count to determine your initial level (between easy, normal, and hard; possibly more). You may need to skip a day or two after your assessment to allow for muscle recovery.
Each time you complete a workout, the app prompts you to indicate how easy or difficult it was for you this time. The idea here is, you will likely answer “It was right” most days. After you get stronger, you will then select “So easy for me.” The app will adjust (or remain at the same level) the next time you use it according to your answer.
If you ever get to a level that is too hard for you, choose the “So hard for me” option after the workout, and the app will ensure your next workout isn’t so difficult.
This is basic, but it’s all that is really needed for this type of app. You can opt to have the app remind you every x days, at a specific time, to do your push-ups. It’s great for me. I’m always in the middle of something during my workday, but mid-afternoon is the ideal time for me to do this workout. I set the notification time for 3:00 PM and my phone nudges me each day to stop typing and hit the deck for some push-ups!
This app has tasteful audio clips that encourage you as you complete sets. Similarly, after each rest break, a typical sports whistle sounds off to get you back to your next set.
I’m not usually a fan of that sort of thing, but these are very nice sound bits. More importantly, if that isn’t your sort of thing, a clearly visible mute button is present to silence these.
What I Dislike
There almost has to be some things I dislike. The good news is, these aren’t “deal-breakers”. The app works well regardless.
Record History is Lacking
You cannot modify history. I accidentally tapped the “Complete” button on my first set one day, then exited the app to do my workout later. After completing my sets, I noticed that the record graph showed more push-ups than the day before; exactly one set more. I tried to change the record in order to reduce the number of push-ups to the correct amount, but could not.
This is a minor drawback, but you should be able to at least change your total for the day. Granted, their progress algorithm may depend on set rep data. What’s really odd about this is, there is a screenshot with the app listing that shows a screen for “Correction of counts” with -/+ to decrease/increase the count. Perhaps the feature was there and removed at some point.
I’d also like to see some aggregate improvement data. For example, it would be pretty cool to see that I’m improving my push-ups count by 17% each week and 49% each month (on average). Of course, this may be more beneficial week-to-week and month-to-month, as progress should start to plateau over the long-haul. However, I do appreciate numbers like this, and it would be a great metric to motivate me.
Contact Information is Personal (not Corporate)
The company’s email address is a Gmail account ([cloak-email email=”email@example.com”]). This may not bother some/most people, but it just feels less professional to me. This is a free app, so I was more than willing to overlook this in order to give it a try (and I’m glad for it).
One thing to note here, NorthPark is located in Hong Kong, so perhaps they felt that using their business email (if one exists) would be off-putting to North American users, if their third-level domain is “.jp” or similar. Would you trust their work more or less if you saw an email address like, “firstname.lastname@example.org” (not actual)?
I actually could not track down a company website, so this may be a sole proprietor just pushing fitness apps out in his/her spare time.
I have to mention this as a dislike. Ads in an app are almost always a distraction. This app uses ads as a sole form of monetization (there is no paid edition). Banners appear on most screens, either at the top or bottom.
Furthermore, if you can’t get lined up with your screen and you have to tap it with your nose or chin to count reps, you may end up tapping an ad right in the middle of your set. I only did that one time over a few weeks, so for me, it wasn’t a big deal.
On Android, the ads were served from Google Ads (via DoubleClick); therefore, they are targeted to your interests/habits (based on your Google account). If personal ads (also known as interest-based ads) freak you out, you can opt out with Google. For more information about your rights for digital ads, check out the Digital Advertising Alliance.
Now for the final “score”. I give the “Push Ups” app by NorthPark a rating of: [rating-display rating=”8″]