Working out takes motivation, and apps can help -- with habit building, progress tracking, competition, community forums, or even a storyline. My personal favorite, Zombies, Run! 5k Training, helps you build fitness over a period of weeks as you get invested in your role as a hero helping a UK town after the zombie apocalypse. The developer, Six to Start, may have another winner in Superhero Workout, to be released for iOS on Wednesday, August 20. An Android version is "coming in fall."
Superhero Workout isn't, as it sounds, about pulling on your tights and leaping over a series of increasingly aerobically challenging buildings. Instead, it puts you in the role of training to use a combat armature to defend the world against aliens. Your jabs and crunches and jumping jacks are translated by the imaginary battle suit, the AEGIS One, into defense against missiles, power for your suit, and such.
The app counts your moves and calories by motion tracking via your smartphone or tablet camera. There's also big-screen integration with Apple TV, which sounds even better, though it's optional. (Google Chromecast support may be coming in the future.) According to Six to Start, there are 20 missions, involving 12 "high-intensity" workouts of about 20 minutes each -- all body-weight exercises, no special equipment needed -- plus you can create your own custom workouts as you go in Battle Workout mode.
Six to Start definitely knows how to make apps that use your imagination to hook you into an exercise program. The 5K app I mentioned is a prequel to the extremely popular Zombies, Run!, and the company has also done an ambitious spy-themed app called The Walk that was funded by the British Department of Health.
So, Superhero Workout ($4.99, £2.99, AU$6.49) comes out tomorrow. How does it look? Speaking as someone who wears a Runner 5 T-shirt to bed, I'm going to be really objective here and say a-ma-zing. Check out the video.
If you lucky iOS users try it, come back and tell me how it goes, and I'll do a few reps of writhing with envy.