Computing Yourself Fit (Part 2)

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PC support

‘Involving the PC in what you’re doing isn’t critical compared with actually getting off your backside and doing something.’

Description: PC support

Obviously, you can’t take the PC with you while you’re exercising, unless it’s a very small one. And even if it is transportable, jogging while using a screen sounds like a recipe for an A&E visit, or worse. However, there are ways that a computer can be useful in terms of managing your fitness programme and sharing your experience with others.

At the simplest level, you can use a spreadsheet to chart your workouts, what days you exercise and how much you did. Or if it’s a diet that you’re more interested in, then you could use it to note the calories you’ve consumed throughout the day, checking you’re staying within your allotted quota.

But there’s also plenty of software around that’s designed to help you achieve your goals more directly, and perhaps build you a longer-term project for a healthy lifestyle.

They’re generally broken into two categories, fitness and nutrition, with some products overlapping these areas.

Those that focus on nutrition alone are usually built around a basic calorie counter, usually augmented with an electronic ‘coach’ that provides you with eating goals and helps you track your intake quotas. Most of these have many before and after pictures promoting their success, and I’m sure some of them are worth what they’re asking. However, most of this information you can get for free or cheaply, because the internet if often a very helpful place.

For those wanting a digital equivalent of WeightWatchers, there are also many good options around. All the diet clubs have websites with online memberships, and some other brand names can be found that are exclusively online.


In researching this article I found that Sainsbury’s has a rather nifty diet site ( where you can sign up to its club for as little as $115 a year. It seems a very comprehensive site that helps you develop personal meal plans and an exercise regime, and even if you don’t sign up there are some free calorie and exercise calculators that you can use. However, while perusing this site I was struck by the irony that it would like you to pay for its help in reducing the effect of food it might have sold you through its excellent marketing campaigns.

In looking for PC-related fitness products, I came across plenty that turned out to be DVDs, listed on the basis that most computers these days can play them. That’s slightly discouraging, but there are some PC Fitness products that are software and not just videos of other already-fit people telling you what to do.

There are many products around, some of which are better than others at providing a means of connecting the exercise dots. Of the ones I’ve seen, I’d have a look at ProTrack (, CrossTrainer ( and Workoutware (, but there are many to choose from and new ones are being released on a regular basis.

At the other end of the software spectrum are very serious training tools, targeting training for one particular ability or sport. I found one that was aimed purely at speed skaters, and others for those who’d like to take cycling very seriously indeed. These are things that you can consider should you get yourself in the zone of ‘fit’, but for most people they don’t need the degree of control and record keeping that these products provide. Much of this software is directed at coaches who are working with athletes on a daily basis and, as such, is geared towards the sort of fitness goals that get you medals, not into a lower size of pants.

In the final analysis, involving the PC in what you’re doing isn’t critical, as compared with actually getting off your backside and doing something. But even if you just create a spreadsheet to note down what you’ve eaten, or use an online calorie counter, then the equipment is contributing a little to counteract the negative impact of sitting at it for a working day.

Community spirit

Description: Community spirit

One thing that many people who decide to improve their lifestyles talk about is ‘support’, in terms of having people who help provide motivation for what they’re doing. I can be quite easy for some people to regress back to their previous eating habits and fitness regimes (or lack of them) without encouragement from others.

In many respects, I’m the wrong person to talk about this, because I’m personally driven and, as such, never felt the need to have a team of emotional cheerleaders waving their pom-poms and shouting ‘Go Mark’, from the sidelines.

However, I’m willing to accept that some people find it invaluable, and it’s because of the requirement to share their experiences, highs and lows, that organisations like Slimming World and their ilk exist.

Most of them also provide an online presence, so that you can keep in touch with your fellow group members, and often post your progress for others to follow. The latest offspring of this type of linkage is to connect your efforts to social networking sites like Facebook, so people can see what you’re doing, and provide encouragement, hopefully.

Having people say positive things is useful, but you might also get some useful advice from those who have attempted something similar or are further down the road than you. It’s not for everyone, but for those that use social networking, it’s an ideal synergy to create.

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