To the lament of fitness professionals everywhere, using apps for exercise seems to be a trend that’s here to stay.
While using an app to train may not offer the same perks of socialization and hands-on correction attained by on-site training, there are some advantages to using fitness apps to aid in recovery.
The app store is loaded with tools that track sleep & nutrition or can guide athletes through mindfulness and stretching exercises.
Enter the mobility apps: programs designed to improve the mobility and flexibility of the user.
I decided to research and try out two of the top prevailing mobility apps:
ROMWOD Pliability and GOWOD.
Both systems are targeted at CrossFit athletes of any level looking to improve their range of motion.
Of course, we all want to move like Olympic weightlifters, and gymnasts, so let’s see which app will get us there faster.
Part 1: GOWOD
What is GOWOD?
GOWOD is a highly customizable app that takes the guesswork out of warming up and cooling down. The app generates a sequence of warm up and/or cool down exercises. There are videos to demonstrate each drill as well as a timer so that the user knows when to switch sides and exercises.
How does GOWOD work?
When you open GOWOD for the first time, you’re prompted to do a flexibility test. The test shows your level of flexibility and reveals the areas that need the most attention. From there, there are two major functions.
The first function of the app is pre- or post-WOD preparation.
The interface allows you to select the time you want to spend mobilizing, the material you have available (for example, bands, foam rollers, and lacrosse balls), and the exercises in your workout and then it generates a sequence of mobility drills.
The other function the app offers is an option called “daily protocol” which generates a routine geared to develop long-term flexibility.
The app will generate protocols based on the results of your most recent test and after several sessions encourages you to retest to measure your progress.
How long are GOWOD sessions?
Users have the option to choose 8, 15, or 22 minute sessions.
How much does GOWOD cost?
The flexibility test as well as access to the exercise video library are free however other features of the app require a monthly, bi-annual, or annual fee.
The cheapest option is $9.99 USD per month however the best value is the annual subscription which comes out to about $90 ($7.49 charged each month for 12 months).
Who uses GOWOD?
GOWOD boasts several top CrossFit athletes as regular users including Brooke Wells, Gabi Migala, Willy Georges, and of course, five-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser.
Is GOWOD effective?
A good thing about this app is that it provides the user with personalized data. GOWOD regularly encourages you to test and retest your ranges of motion, which gives incentive for users to stay consistent in hopes of seeing their flexibility score improve.
GOWOD is also effective in that it promotes warming up properly before engaging in high intensity training. Warming up and cooling down are the easiest ways to reduce risk of injury, and it’s more likely that an athlete will warm up if they have a programmed routine to follow.
Part 2: Pliability
What is Pliability?
Pliability is a mobility program that releases daily mobility workouts. Once the user selects from one of the preprogrammed movement flows, the video begins, and the athlete is guided through the sequence in real-time with the video’s presenter. Pliability videos can be done anywhere and requires no additional equipment.
How does Pliability work?
Pliability is like a CrossFit program except instead of having a daily WOD, you have a daily “MOD”, Mobility of the Day. Each day a new video that focuses on a certain zone of the body (such as upper, lower, shoulders, psoas, etc.) is released. The app also several “paths”: series of videos to be completed over several days which lead to a specific objective such as achieving the splits or improving sleep.
How long are Pliability sessions?
Most sessions average 20 to 25 minutes, however there is a “quick session” feature with routines of 11 to 14 minutes.
How much does Pliability cost?
For a monthly fee of $13.95 USD, you gain access to the movement library, paths, and daily videos which can be streamed on your computer or phone and downloaded in HD.
Who uses Pliability?
Pliability has an arguably bigger presence given that it has been around longer than GOWOD. It has official partnerships with the CrossFit Games, the Rogue Invitational, and USA Weightlifting. Pliability is used by several big-name CrossFit athletes such as Patrick Vellner, Noah Ohlsen, Alec Smith, and five-time Fittest Woman on Earth Tia Clair Toomey.
Is Pliability effective?
Pliability is effective as it encourages users to dedicate at least 15 or 20 minutes to improving their mobility on a daily basis. With the paths that are offered by the app, athletes are motivated to work toward specific goals that may not be directly related to preparing them for CrossFit, but serve to improve the way they move. An added plus is that you have someone talking you through the videos, which makes the experience feel more like being in a class setting.
The Round up
Considering the differences in functionality between GOWOD and Pliability I would say that:
As an athlete, if you’re looking to make the most of the time you have for warming up or cooling down around your workout, GOWOD is your best bet.
You don’t have to think about how to prepare for specific exercises within your training, just punch it into the app and it’s got you covered.
Each protocol generated is different, but always takes into consideration the flexibility score awarded to the user via monthly tests.
Pliability on the other hand is better geared towards those who wish to focus on improving their general mobility beyond simply preparing for their training session.
The videos guide the users in real time and provide scaled versions of the movements when available.
Additionally, considering the duration of the movement flows and the emphasis on breathing and mindfulness, Pliability is more practical on rest days or when winding down for the day.
Depending on what you value, either app may be the best solution for you.
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