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Interview With iF Juror Chris Alt: “Fitness Apps Adapt More and More to Individual Needs”

Chris Alt is Art Director and fitness coach in Hamburg, Germany. Here she gives us the inside scoop on wearables as a trending topic in home fitness.

Combining a busy work schedule with 30 minutes of endurance training is a big challenge especially for sport’s enthusiasts. A personal coach may help. And sometimes good fitness apps, which are normally installed on so-called wearables such as smart watches and fitness trackers, could be another solution.

The market for fitness apps is immense and has the right offer for every need. Furthermore, health tracking using tablets or smartphones has become an integral part of home fitness equipment. More and more people are enjoying counting calories digitally and sharing them with friends on social media and through instant messenger services.

A study published by BearingPoint, a management and technology consultancy from Frankfurt/Main, found that the popularity of wearables among Germans has slightly increased in the past years. While in 2017, 18 percent of respondents used a smartphone or tablet for digital health, this figure has now risen to 27 percent in 2019. The study analyzed usage behavior of 1,000 people from the age of 16 up.

One designer who benefits from the fitness industry as another area of focus is Art Director Chris Alt from Hamburg / Germany. Chris was in her mid-40s when she discovered functional training for herself. The origin of this workout training goes back to medical rehabilitation and it focuses on muscle groups and movement sequences instead of individual muscle training. In 2016, the passion for functional training led Chris into a professional coaching career. As a longtime part of the iF community and jury, Chris has proven her keen eye in the categories Apps / Software and Websites over the years.

We talked with Chris about unexpected turns of life, virtual coaches and the challenges in fitness app design.

“I started as a fitness trainer unexpectedly”

iF: How did you start your career in the fitness industry?
Chris Alt: I tried out lots of sports, already as a child and teenager. Riding and triathlon were my favorites. As an adult, however, I started as a fitness trainer unexpectedly. Eight years ago, I was booked as a freelance designer in the city center of Hamburg and trained every lunchtime in the opposite fitness studio. That’s how I discovered functional training as a form of training and learned to love it. When the trainer missed out on his class, I spontaneously filled in. That's how it all started and today I have my own fitness brand, PURE ENERGY.

You offer group courses and personal training several times a week. Is there still time to use fitness apps yourself?
Currently, I don’t have time for additional private training sessions. But I keep an eye on the app market, just out of interest.

iF Awarded Fitness Apps, Smart Watches and Health Trackers in 2020

This smart watch's innovative touch bezel UX allows you to readily access necessary information on an enlarged screen.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 UX

This smart watch's innovative touch bezel UX allows you to readily access necessary information on an enlarged screen.

This fitness watch offers an overview of your daily schedule and guidance in achieving a more balanced life. Novel features include nightly recharge which shows you how well you have recovered from the demands of your day and Fitspark which offers ready-made daily on-demand workouts that match your recovery, fitness level, and training history.
Polar Ignite

This fitness watch offers an overview of your daily schedule and guidance in achieving a more balanced life. Novel features include nightly recharge which shows you how well you have recovered from the demands of your day and Fitspark which offers ready-made daily on-demand workouts that match your recovery, fitness level, and training history.

Extremely affordable yet with rich features and high quality, its slim form factor, light weight (22.1 grams), soft material, and 50-meter water-resistance allow the user to comfortably wear it 24/7.
Mi Band 4

Extremely affordable yet with rich features and high quality, its slim form factor, light weight (22.1 grams), soft material, and 50-meter water-resistance allow the user to comfortably wear it 24/7.

Robust stainless steel bezels, and four design variants make this a sophisticated and personal timepiece, as well as a terrific functional sports, watch.
Suunto 5

Robust stainless steel bezels, and four design variants make this a sophisticated and personal timepiece, as well as a terrific functional sports, watch.

This life tracker that looks and feels like a piece of jewelry. The soft curves provide an optimal and a comfortable fit, especially for smaller wrists.
Fitbit Inspire HR™

This life tracker that looks and feels like a piece of jewelry. The soft curves provide an optimal and a comfortable fit, especially for smaller wrists.

The overall idea was to revolutionize the fitness app market and develop a personal trainer app with the most unique user interface, an interface which is completely different to all competitors in every detail.
Butterfly Coach

The overall idea was to revolutionize the fitness app market and develop a personal trainer app with the most unique user interface, an interface which is completely different to all competitors in every detail.

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How has the app usage behavior changed in your opinion?
The quality has increased in past years, regarding training presentation, the variety of exercises, expert and nutritional tips and sports challenges. Moreover the degree of personalization is constantly increasing. Apps adapt more and more to individual needs and training performance and thus become, thanks to artificial intelligence, a virtual coach. This kind of technological progress is simple and time-saving. Basically, it is perfect for people who have busy work schedules.

What features should a fitness app definitely include from a user perspective?
Good fitness apps are characterized by an attractive design, simple user guidance and high individual adaptability to the user. In the end, it is the many individual settings and fine details that distinguish one app from another. For example the type of training, the presentation of the trainer, individually created training programs, the type of training equipment or the choice of music to match the workout. There is no better or worse in this case. What matters is that every user finds the app that best suits their needs. And it's not easy to make this choice bearing in mind 98,000 different fitness and health apps currently available on the iTunes Store.

What do you think are the challenges in fitness app design?
Above all, fitness apps should be fun. And this can be achieved through entertaining quality content, good and simple usability and an appealing app design. Since users prefer real videos rather than animations, designers should consider the human aspect in designing the user interface. Apart from that, apps should be highly customizable, for example through selection options such as fitness level, language or subtitles, male or female trainers, light or dark screen view, music styles and much more.

Tips on How to Stay Fit at the Office from iF Juror Chris Alt