Is the Freeletics app spoiling your workout?

I recently got an iPhone 6. I didn’t want to get an iPhone 6. I let the contract run out on my last iPhone about three years ago, and never bothered renewing it. Those three years have been some of the happiest of my life. It’s bloody great, not having a phone. Because it means NOBODY CAN CALL YOU. You might not see this as the boon that I do. But if, like me, you are a miserable bastard that will go to extreme lengths to avoid ACTUALLY HAVING TO TALK TO SOMEONE, it makes perfect sense.

But then business started picking up and it turned out that not having a phone made me look like some kind of backwards village fool. So I relented, and now have an iPhone 6 sitting literally 30cm away from me. Bugger. Every cloud has a silver lining though: if I position it in just the right spot, it doesn’t get any signal. I take a perverse pleasure in buying an expensive item and then willfully ensuring that it can’t work. I don’t know what this says about me, and on balance I think I’d rather not.

ANYWAY. When I got the bloody thing, I am almost embarrassed to report that Freeletics was the first app I downloaded. (The second one was Twitter. The third one was BBC Weather. So basically, I’m a weather-obsessed fitness dickhead with a short attention span. I like that actually, might have it on my gravestone.) I’ve used the iPad version on-and-off a few times, but never really got on with it. Not that I had problems with it crashing or whatever, but for obvious reasons you don’t really want to take an iPad for outdoor workouts. I just stuck with my stopwatch and entered my workouts via my computer. But it was obvious straight away that Freeletics have invested a bit more time on the iPhone app than the iPad version. (I say that: I haven’t actually been arsed to check. It just looks a bit nicer and seems to do more. Quality blogging, this.)

Freeletics would obviously like you to enter your workout information in real time via their app. Ostensibly that is because it gives them your split times, which in turn helps the Coach to come up with the best possible schedule for you. Thing is though… How do we know that that’s actually happening? I’d love to see a little bit of basic feedback from the Coach at the start of a new week. Something along the lines of, “well you fucking suck at burpees you big fat TWAT, look at this! Six minutes to do 50 after a 2K run last week? You make me sick. Here’s a million burpees for you, now fuck off.”.

Ideally this would be delivered by the incredulous tones of a particularly apoplectic Gordon Ramsay.

(Freeletics people, if you’re reading this, you can have that idea for free.)

Anyway, I suppose we should take them at their word and trust that this information is being used to help us get fitter. Or put us through more entirely unnecessary torture, depending on how you look at it.

So far, so good. I’ve used the app a few times with no problems at all. But this, remember, is with a shiny new phone with very little else installed. My wife’s experiences are markedly different. She uses and iPhone 5 (I know, it’s like a year old, HILARIOUS), and can never get through a week without having some kind of issue with the app. A few months ago, it would have a tendency to crash altogether, but this seems to have been fixed now. Most commonly there will be issues with the timer, whether it stops early, appears not to have started (but has), doesn’t flip between exercises…

On the face of it, you’d think that this is not such a big deal really. The main thing, indeed the ONLY thing that matters is that she’s done the workout. But here’s the thing: it is hugely frustrating to expend that level of effort in doing something that is so heavily results based and then not get the correct results. Instead of being on a post-workout high, she’s irritated by the fact that whilst she’s fulfilled her part of the deal, the app has swanned off round the back for a fag and ballsed everything up.

Here are a few comments taken from my Community feed from the past couple of weeks:

“…frigging timer stopped early again too so no idea of real time”

“…app is so slow switching between exercise – frustrating”

“…timer stopped early again”

“…was really 37:52 but app playing up again – so annoying”

“…clock stopped before last run so not a true time”

(By the way, see me after please Sylvester. ‘Frigging’ is a swear word, I think.)

In the interests of fairness, I should point out that the vast majority of posts on my Freeletics feed do not contain stuff about the app causing problems. But it appears to happen often enough to make it worth me stretching it out to a 900-odd word blog post.

So, what about you? Have you ever encountered problems with the Freeletics app? If so, what? What’s your take on it? Do you put it down to your phone getting creaky? Is there anything that you’d like to see in the app that you think would help you get on? Anything there you don’t use that you think is superfluous?

I seriously doubt that anyone from Freeletics ever reads this blog, so there’s every chance that we’re pissing in the wind. But still, it’s good to get other people’s experiences and thoughts about stuff. Isn’t it? YES IT BLOODY IS.


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  • Joseph

    Shaun, This is a timely post as I’ve just switched from Android to iOS this week. The two platforms seem pretty much identical. I only have one day of experience with FL on iOS and so far I’m attributing my issues to me not knowing how to use an iPhone yet. Having said that, I have had a problem on both phones getting the app to recognize my taps when I want to transition from one exercise to the next. Again, I blame myself, in this case for having sweaty fingers.

    Fortunately, I haven’t had the app stop mid-workout. I would be supremely ticked off if that happened. I know some people had an issue with their workout sessions getting doubled due to a bug in the software. That would also be very frustrating. It’s not super expensive, but this is the most I’ve paid for an app. When I’m paying, the bar goes up and I become less tolerant of bugs, especially when I’m sweating like a fountain and needing the app to respond without delay.

    My biggest gripe about the app is that it wants to have an internet connection to start a coach assigned session. I don’t always have good coverage at some of my workout spots. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to do the workout with the app, then upload it later when I have a connection. I think I can work around this by going into the workout menu and manually selecting what I was assigned, but then I have to plan ahead and remember what I was supposed to do before I show up for the workout. Easier said than done.

    Finally, I have to say that overall I’ve been really happy with the app. It keeps me focused on the reps at hand without me having to always know what round I’m on. The timer is big and clear, and so is the area I need to tap (even if it often doesn’t register).

    • Shaun

      Thanks for the comment, Joseph. I’ve got to be honest, I’ve had no real complaints so far with using the app on iPhone 6. Because of how (and where) I do my workouts, I’ve never had an issue with wi-fi connection because I’m always at home. But obviously that’s not the case for a lot of people, and it would seriously irritate me if I couldn’t use the app away from the internet when needed.

      Thanks again Joseph, keep it up!

  • TJ

    No problems with the app, either on the phone or on the tablet (both android).
    The “need to be online” for coach to work is indeed crap and I believe completely unnecessary. Particular for those of us that travel, I don’t want to spend my exercise collecting roaming charges (although come to think of it, there’s a big financial incentive to break your PB to bits right there).
    Also I’ve found the GPS running distance tracking to be unreliable. Compared to other running apps (and GPS watch) it’s almost always out 10% or more. I’ve stopped logging runs real-time with the FL app. The guy telling me my average pace in the most boring tone of voice and with the slight German accent was another good reason.