Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at BFusion / BFLEX 2009 (Bloomington, Indiana) with: Dan Wilson

Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Initial Thoughts

By Ben Nadel on

If you have followed this blog for a while, you will know that I am a fitness enthusiast. I love going to the gym and moving around some heavy steel (or at least that is my intent). What you might not know is that for the longest time, I have been using an old-school 12-button phone user. I've never had a fancy phone - usually whatever the cheapest phone I could get with the best rebate. Other than text messaging, I am just not much of a phone guy. For Christmas, however, I decided to treat myself to one of Apple's new iPhones. I don't have internet at home, so I figured that for the brief few hours that I am actually not in the office, it would be nice to have an iPhone for light web surfing and email checking.

The iPhone is a pretty sweet piece of equipment. The phone itself, as many of you probably know already, is clearly the weakest part of the device. The browser, on the other hand, while a bit slow, is pretty naughty. The way you can quickly zoom in and zoom out of text areas with auto-width adjustment is really well done and creates a very high quality user experience even with less than phone-friendly interfaces.

Once I got used to the iPhone, naturally I started to think of ways that I could use my ColdFusion know-how to make cool things for the phone, because, as we all know, "anything" + ColdFusion is much more badass. And, since I am fan of weight lifting and I've been really good about my lifting lately, I figured, why not make that first journey into the world of cellular applications one of Fitness.

And so, here are my ideas for an ultra simple, Phase I for my site DigDeepFitness.com. When I think about the fitness application that I would use (as I am my own target audience), I think about what is the biggest challenge when it comes to lifting. For me, it is a matter of the "progressive" aspect of progressive resistance training. Weight lifting, known technically as "Progressive Resistence Training" requires you to always be increasing your weights (or at least trying to). The problem is that when you stop doing that, weight lifting fails to deliver maximum benefits. The hurdle with progressively adding weight to your lifts is that it is crucial that you remember how much you lifted lasted time. If you can't recall previous lifts, chances are you are not going to be adding weight the next time and therefore, not lifting progressively.

After some thinking, I decided that the following were key parts to a successful iPhone fitness application for myself:

  • When entering exercise sets in a given workout, make it incredibly easy to see previously recorded performances on the same exercise. This will allow for consistent, progressively heavier lifting AND will provide mental arousal at seeing goals that need to be beaten.
  • Allow easy recording of sets for more than one lifter as I lift with 0 to 2 other people at a given time.
  • Don't make the entire application iPhone-based. The iPhone is primarily for fitness data collection. When it comes to reporting on your lifting, this should be optimized for real desktop web browsing where things like flash graphs and Excel files can be generated. Don't try to dumb down reporting for the iPhone.

Based on these goals, I have thrown together some small 320x480 screens to mockup the page flow of the Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness application. Try not to concentrate too heavily on the colors or the consistency - these are just preliminary ideas that will get me started on creating the prototype that will have a much cleaner design.

Login Screen

This is the login screen for the Dig Deep Fitness iPhone application. You have the option to select "Remember Me" so that you can bypass the login on future visits (using a non-expiring cookie).


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Login Screen  
 
 
 

Account Registration

If you don't yet have an account with Dig Deep Fitness, you can register right on the iPhone. All you need is an email address and a password selection.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Account Registration  
 
 
 

Account Registration Confirmation

Once you have registered, this is merely the confirmation page. At this point, the system has logged you in automatically for your first session. By clicking on Login Now, you will be taken directly to the home screen of the Dig Deep Fitness iPhone application.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Registration Confirmation  
 
 
 

Dig Deep Fitness Home Screen

This is the main menu / home screen of the Dig Deep Fitness iPhone application. From here you have some setup options and some workout options. The Lifters button allows you to set up lifters for your account (you and the other people you workout with). The Exercises button allows you to set up the list of custom exercises you can select from. The Start Workout button allows you to start a new workout. The Resume Workout button allows you to jump to the end of the previously started workout (if one exists).


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Home Screen  
 
 
 

Start New Workout

If you selected to start a new workout on the home screen, you will be given the opportunity to select the lifters who are participating in the current workout. If you selected this option accidentally, I provide a quick link to instead resume the previous workout.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Start New Workout  
 
 
 

Select First / Next Exercise

Whether you selected to start a new workout or to resume an existing workout, the next step will be to select an exercise to perform. You can select from the drop down of existing exercises or you can create a new exercise right there (via the text input box). You will notice that there is a Back button at the top. If you were in the middle of a workout and clicked on the wrong button, this would allow you to return to the previous exercise.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Select Next Exercise  
 
 
 

Perform Exercise / Add Sets

Once you have selected an exercise to perform, it's time to start lifting! This is going to be a tabbed layout where each user gets their own tab and list of performed sets. The sets are recorded using a simple weight x reps methodology. You can delete sets using the [X] button or add a new set using the New Set button. The most important part of this interface, perhaps, is that below the set inputs there is a list of previous lifting performance on the same exercise. This list is lifter-specific and will allow you to really keep getting progressively heavier on your lifts. At the very bottom of the page, there is an option to delete the exercise from the current workout. Once you have finished putting in your set data for all lifters, you can hit the "Next" button to be brought to the next "Select Exercise" screen which was outlined above.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Perform Exercises / Add Sets  
 
 
 

Existing Lifters

This is just the screen where you can add / update the available lifters for the workouts.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Existing Lifters  
 
 
 

Edit Lifter

When you edit a lifter, I am going to keep this really simple with just the Name. Maybe in the future, I will add email address so that users can have their workout data emailed to them at the end of the day or something. But for now, just gonna keep it to a simple label.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Add / Update Lifter  
 
 
 

Exercise List

When it comes to exercises, I think there will be a list of system-provided exercises which will have the most common exercises that everyone uses. Then, there will also be a list of custom exercises which each individual user can create and use.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Exercise List  
 
 
 

Exercise Detail

When a user adds or updates an exercise, it's basically the same interface - just a name and an optional description.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application Add / Update Exercise  
 
 
 

System Exercise List

In addition to the custom entered exercises, the user can also see the list of system-provided exercises.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application System Exercise List  
 
 
 

System Exercise Detail

The system exercise detail screen will have a good description of the exercise and how it is performed. Notice that these cannot be deleted nor can this list be added to.


 
 
 

 
Dig Deep Fitness iPhone Fitness Application System Exercise Detail  
 
 
 

So those are my initial thoughts on Dig Deep Fitness, my first iPhone Fitness application. I think this will be pretty simple to design and build. I plan on making the Perform Exercise / Add Sets page very AJAXy so that the page doesn't need to fresh when new sets are added or the user moves onto the next exercise. The interface was built with the Human Finger as the primary input device; I am gonna try to keep the buttons big and chunky so that things don't get incorrectly pressed.

Any thoughts? I am pretty excited about this.




Reader Comments

Very cool idea! iPhone apps are cool, but iPhone apps built on ColdFusion are even cooler. Overall I agree with your idea and while I have the body of a "well developed" 12 year old girl, I see where you're coming from.

The only thing I question is having excel formatted data available to the user. Although it would be really easy, I don't see a big value for that, but the flash graphics really speak to me. Keep us updated!

@Jimmy,

The Excel sheet was just an example of an "advanced" feature that you wouldn't want to have to limit to iPhone usage. Basically, I was just trying to drive home the point that the iPhone "Aspect" of the application is only part of the bigger picture and that there would be a standard web-interface that could handle more things such as uploading monthly photos of yourself or something. But, I am sure more on that to come later.

WAIT. You don't have internet at home? I now have more respect for your intelligence. I thought you spend all night working on your ideas and topics. Man you are the bomb!

I just came across this page today and I would buy this application in a heart beat. I just recently purchased the new iphone 3g and have been looking for a fitness application but, there can't fine exactly what I want. But, this is it. When can I buy it?

I could live with with the application just on the phone.

@Christina,

There's nothing to buy at this point. It's still in an early Beta phase of development. Feel free to use it online if you like, and of course, any feed back is always appreciated.

Apple iPhone is simply the best! Its so surprising that you did a coldfusion application without having internet. I should appreciate your excellence and knowledge.
I convert most of my videos to 3gp format and use it in iPhone. Especially sharing videos is really cool.

Great App! Used it this morning for my short-short weightlifting session.
Would you mind sharing the Coldfusion code? I am especially interested in the pop-up confirmation windows and how you integrate database generated data on them.

Thanks for any help you can give!!!

Im just starting to think about looking at maybe buying an iPhone. (see some hesitation on my part?) Anyway, one of the keys for me to buy one would be a good fitness app. This seems that you are on your way. I have long wanted to write my own app (for Palm and have it talk to a Windows app) and I have what I think are some great ideas. I love the fact that one of your very first goals or realizations is that the hand held unit are for data collection. The deskop would be for more powerful processes like graphs etc. If youre interested in some of my ideas feel free to contact me. If it helps I was in the fitness industry for roughly 13 years. I am out of it now but you get the idea.

Regards,

Chris Pilcher
cpilcher@one.net