Monday 16 February 2015

The BitGym App

            Virtual Active has teamed with Active Theory Inc to bring the “BitGym” app to life.  The app gives you access to many of Virtual Active’s hikes/runs/rides to use with your spin bike, treadmill, elliptical or rower. The app is interactive in a way that the VA DVD's aren’t—the app uses the front-facing camera on your iPad or iPhone to track your exercise speed and the video speeds up or slows down accordingly.

            The app itself is free to download but to access the video library you need a subscription, which is $7.99/month in the US or $8.99/month in Canada. (I jumped on the “Founders’ Lifetime Membership” when it was offered on Kickstarter, which I believe was something like $150).


            *a huge library of workouts to ride/walk/run to. Currently, the “trail” library has 23 videos, the “mixed” library has 23 videos and the “road” library has 21 videos. Some of VA’s newest videos are included, including those filmed in Hawaii, Costa Rica, Panama and Patagonia.

            *the ability to customize the length of your ride. Most of the workouts vary in length anywhere from 30-60 minutes BUT the length of your ride really depends on how fast or slow you move. You also have the option of choosing your own workout time—you can choose 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes…all the way up to 120 minutes.  (If you want to do the entire workout at your own speed, just choose the “no timer” option.)

*in-app controls. It’s super easy to pause/re-start/end your ride or to turn the nature sounds on or off. I also love that if you choose to listen to your own music, you can control your iTunes music within the app. Simply touching anywhere on the screen brings up the controls: 

*the interactive-ness. Not only is this a cool feature but it’s also very motivating and satisfying to see the trail or road react to your effort.

*the ability to download the videos. You have the ability to make videos available offline for those times when you don’t have internet access. (With my lifetime membership I have unlimited access to this but I’m not sure if the monthly subscription places a limit on downloads.)

*value. You can’t beat having access to 60+ full-length walks, runs and rides in gorgeous locations around the world for less than $10 a month.


            *no option for a guided workout. Anyone familiar with me or this blog knows by now that I prefer the “guided” workout option when it comes to VA. My inner-Geek loves learning about new locations and I just push myself harder when I have a trainer telling me to speed up or stand up. But of course this is just a personal preference and I know from conversations with other VA enthusiasts that I’m in the minority on this one and that most people prefer the unguided workouts.

*no music. Again, this is a personal preference and many would see this as a pro. None of the videos have music but you have the option of listening to “nature sounds” as you work out. (I think “ambient sounds” would be more accurate since in addition to birds, wind, rain, etc. you also hear cars and other human sounds.) You can also turn off the nature sounds and listen to your own music (see the “In-App Controls” under Pros). While I mostly listen to my own music with BitGym, it would be nice to have the music option.

Overall, BitGym is a fantastic value for anyone who gets bored on their spin bike, treadmill, elliptical or rower. It’s also a great way for people who are new to VA to try out some of their offerings. In case it wasn’t clear, I love this app J

Over the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing some of the workouts that are in the app that I don’t own on DVD. I’ll also be reviewing some of the new downloads from Run Series 6 and resuming my reviews on Bike Series 1.