lolo Burn Review: A personalized fitness coach on the iPhone

Since my successful Couch-to-5K program, I have been more intrigued (inundated, even) with requests for app reviews. I rigorously use the ones I select to review in an attempt to get thorough appreciation of what an app has to offer (initial peek here). In part for me, a running/exercise app has to offer some motivation or hook to make me keep using it.

The unusually named lolo Burn was presented as a unique, interactive app. According to the developer, their app is different because:

  • Our app uses a real trainer that talks to you every step of the way, no text to speech engines or scary computer voices.
  • We lay this coaching and motivation over any type of music in real time so you can change songs or change the workout seamlessly.
  • It’s totally interactive. It’s not just a pre-recorded script or a clever studio mix. The user can interact with the app to change the program and the trainer responds.
  • We think the most impressive feature is our tempo shifting. We actually change the beat of the music on the fly to perfectly match the pace of a user’s feet on the treadmill or road. We launched with this feature only adjusting our included fitness music, but we are already working on a way to detect the beat of any song played off the iPod and adjust the beat of a user’s music as well.

And honestly, there is a lot to be proud of in this app. There are also some areas worth improving.

Good:

Encouragement – The female trainer voice is great. She offers words of advice (“relax those shoulders and arms”) and encouragement (“You can do this; your legs are strong”) that seem appropriately placed and diverse enough that they aren’t often repeated in the same workout. During a workout routine, she talks using both numbers and descriptors (“Let’s take this to a level 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. This should feel challengin to moderately hard”) and also gives the goal time (for 5 minutes) and a countdown by minutes, (3 mins, 2 mins) and eventually seconds (30 sec; 15 sec, 10 sec, 5-4-3-2-1). I found this extremely beneficial to push myself to the end of each cycle.

Tempo shifting – As mentioned, the tempo shifting is indeed impressive. Without altering the pitch of the included music, the pace  or tempo  adjusts faster or slower during the workout routine. Even when I thought the pace was too quick and decided to keep my own slower pace, I found that eventually I would be in sync with the music and push myself to keep up with the tempo.

If the pace was too fast for too long, I could lower the level and pace by moving the vertical bar that indicated where I was during the routine. Immediately the trainer’s voice would respond with something like, “All right. Let’s bring it down a little.”

The  experience was flawless.

Improvements:

Resuming a routine — I didn’t notice at first, but there is only a Play and Pause button during a routine. If you press the iPhone’s Home button to exit the app, and then return to lolo Burn, it remains where you left it. At first this seemed beneficial; except that I couldn’t find a way to stop a routine. So when I finished my workout without completing a full lolo Burn routine, I would have to let it play out the remainder before proceeding to the next day’s routine. I hope an update would allow an option of Resume workout or Cancel Previous workout when returning to the app.

Music — Although I like the included fitness music, you’d better like techno-pop like the Pet Shop Boys’  “It’s a Sin” because there’s a lot of it. An improvement would be to include other choices of music genres (Country, Rock, Classical, etc.) to go alongside the fitness music that comes with lolo Burn, since, after a while, I tired of the similar sounding rave-style music. When using your own music, the coach does continue the same vocal pattern of encouragement, but without the tempo-shifting, it’s easy to avoid trying to push to a harder workout level. Also, I didn’t see a way to shuffle the playlist through lolo Burn, which makes my own music more monotonous.

Intervals — The workout times are preset in increments of 15 minutes up to 1 hour. Given the current seamless program, I am willing to forgive this. However, my personal endurance 5K routine has a 5 min warmup, 30 min run, & 5 min cooldown. By choosing the the 30 min workout routine, I don’t get the full 5K run I want to maintain through this app.

Profiles — lolo Burn also limits me to a single profile, and this is where I feel the app greatly needs improvement. If I want to let my wife use this app on my iPhone, I would have to abandon my settings and create a new profile. Then, my own personal settings and progress would be lost (without a sync to iTunes and restore). Also, being able to retreat to an earlier, less intense workout, in my own profile would be helpful (e.g. after taking a week off!).

Overall Experience:

I found lolo Burn to be an extremely easy app to use (although the screen can be difficult to read when running). I find that I use it on my less-than-motivated days to help push me and keep me moving. Where my other running apps excel as timers and workout monitors, lolo Burn adds the personal touch to help encourage me to continue my efforts.

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lolo Burn is currently available in the App Store for $4.99

lolo Burn was provided for review on Just Another iPhone Blog. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

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  • http://isource.com/2010/09/09/lolo-burn-review-a-personalized-fitness-coach-on-the-iphone/ Theresa

    For the pretty new runner who wants this for a regular old ipod nano – is there some way to use this in your itunes library??? couldn’t imagine running with my android HTC phone…

    thanks!

  • Jay

    Theresa,

    Loloburn has been upgraded and now is titled “Beat Burn” in the App store. It’s unlikely that it works on a Nano.