App review: How Nike + Training Club got us back into a fitness routine
Time to shape up
Working out is as much a physical challenge as it is a test of mental strength. Before joining the workforce, six days of Insanity sessions a week (with Sundays for recovery) proved to be entirely possible. On a 9 to 5 schedule, while time is certainly of the essence, it's the thought of doing ski abs and mountain climbers for an hour after a long day at the office that's prohibitive, to say the least. It was tough enough to rack up three workouts a week to keep the dreaded desk weight at bay and body strength at status quo — and that's not even fitting work travel into the schedule.
Hitting the ground running in a different time zone and staying on the ball into the wee hours is in itself exhausting. Who cares for squeezing in an hour-long session at 11pm after a long work dinner, instead of hitting the sheets? The game plan was to get back on track whenever I returned to Singapore, but the ebbing of my workout regime while on the go became an easy excuse to weasle out of the routine even when I was home.
What I needed was something that allowed me to squeeze in a swift workout at night (sans equipment) even when the hotel gym is out of bounds, and without resorting to simply doing five minutes of planking. The Nike + Training Club (NTC) app proved to be the perfect fit. Designed to fulfill different goals — or a combination of — flexibility, strength building and endurance training, it allows you to go as you please or have a fitness regime sorted out for you. Here's why it checked all my boxes desired for staying fit on the road.
Looking to clock in a quick session as short as 12 minutes, that's not just some crunches, squats or planking?
While the NTC app offers a wide variety of workouts anywhere from five to 45 minutes, I discovered that even the shorter sessions ticked off a well-rounded checklist. I didn't find myself forgoing my arms to strengthen just the quads or core. Each workout combines simple and complex movements, with a detailed video and audio walkthrough of how to execute the various sets and monitor your form. It ensured that I got the best out of each session. This snappy workout, favoured by Dutch national sprinter Dafne Shippers, is my go-to after a hectic day, in the face of an unforgivably early morning the next.
Duration: 11 minutes and 12 seconds
What it's good for: Meant to ramp up fitness, Core Control puts the quads, glutes, core and arms to work. Despite its line-up of controlled movements, the majority of sets (like the dead bug and lateral bear crawls) activate multiple large muscle groups all at one go — steadily increasing your heart rate.
Calories you'll burn (approximately): 42
We recommend wearing: The Nike Zonal Strength Running Tights to aid post-workout recovery.
Even when time is tight, count on the app to factor in warm-ups and post-workout stretches to workout responsibly.
It's easy to dive right into the 'meaty' part of a workout when one is hard-pressed for time, but stretching should never be forsaken in the name of clocking in a lightning session. To maintain flexibility and reduce risk of injury, the NTC sessions make sure to kick off with movements that stretch out big muscle groups — designed to also ease you into the more intensive segment that follows after. A workout that I felt was great to get myself back into the fitness groove was the 'Pyramid Rundown'.
Duration: 19 minutes and 12 seconds
What it's good for: A large part of the workout is dedicated to a slow build-up, and it then tapers off with a rewarding cool down session. Your muscles are warm as you segue into the more vigorous sets meant to build up body strength. Focusing on the core, arms and quads, the exhaustive post-workout stretch ensures that you're less prone to injury — or end up nursing a sore muscle for days — even with more intensive movements involved like judo press-ups and flying shoulder presses.
Calories burned (approximately): 75
We recommend wearing: The Nike Zonal Strength Training Tights. The compression fabric offers more support for leg muscles and its mid-rise waist aids the core.
Having the freedom to alter your workout regime whenever there's a snag in your schedule.
Flexibility is key when you're always on the go. The constant reminder that you're falling short of your regime — despite being too tired to keep up — serves as little encouragement to stay on track. It's frustrating, and the temptation to abandon all fitness goals entirely is one that's more than easy to succumb to here. If you've chosen to let the app map out a plan for you and find that the schedule is near impossible given a particularly exhausting week, simply edit the frequency and difficulty to re-generate a more suitable line-up immediately. I also zeroed in on the low intensity workouts — such as the 'Wake Up Call' — as another alternative to stay active on extremely long and taxing days.
WAKE UP CALL
Duration: 25 minutes
What it's good for: The mix of stretches and light sets such as hip burners and walkouts will get you breaking into a mild sweat — a less daunting task to tackle on low-energy days. Conceived by Michol Dalcourt, an industry expert who works with Olympians, it's a great way to up your movement should you be too tired for any high intensity cardio.
Calories burned (approximately): 55
We recommend wearing: The Nike Free TR Focus Flyknit trainers for maximum flexibility in your feet. It is especially useful for movements like split squats and kneeling quadriceps stretches, which require the feet to stay planted firmly on the ground at an angle.
The Nike + Training Club app is available for both iOS and Android. Shop the workout gear at Nike stores.