Bring your iPad to the gym and stare at something other than the person in front of you

January 6, 2012

Motivation at the gym is hard to come by. Also, if you get caught looking at someone for too long while you exercise, your membership is likely to be shorter-lived than your new workout. Thankfully, there are plenty of scenic iPad apps you can stare at that won’t get you kicked out of a library, much less a gym.

The most recent edition to this growing group is VirtualActive: BitGymEdition (free). Virtual Active goes above and beyond the standard scenic apps by letting the user have an actual affect on what they’re seeing. If you pedal or run faster while you exercise, you’ll blow through one of the app’s 10 locations faster. It’s an obvious concept but one that scenery-driven apps haven’t seemed to pick up on yet. Perhaps that will change if Virtual Active picks up some more press.

Of the rest of the apps that are nice to look at, CoasterExtreme! 3DStereograph ($0.99) comes closest to being consistently visually interesting. While it isn’t affected by how seriously you take your workout or not, it does offer up a front row seat to some crazy roller coasters that you can virtually ride. If nothing else, watching your coaster handle intense virtual loops and hairpin turns is a lot more interesting than watching someone sweat profusely just a few feet in front of you.

If watching a roller coaster while you ride the stationary bike seems a little too intense, there is always the more leisurely AmbienceHD ($0.99). This much more relaxing app has videos and sounds of crackling fires, rain forests, seagulls and thunderstorms. Think of it as easy listening for your workout.

If you’d like the idea of relaxing videos but would prefer relaxing images instead, 3DSceneriesforiPad ($0.99) might be of some use. It’s photographs only, so you don’t have to worry about being annoyed when you see the video loop back around again. Instead you’ll get a dozen or so vivid images to look at while you work out. It’s far from fancy, but it might be good for a change of pace.

There is also a happy medium – scenery apps that aren’t video based but are more than single pictures. Something like the free iGreekIslandsSkopelos app (also on iPad for $2.99) fits that bill. iGreekIslands provides 360-degree panoramic photos of the Greek island of Skopelos. The app has 124 different panoramas, so there’s plenty to look at during a workout. And if none of these apps help you focus at the gym, well, just try not to stare, pal.


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