Review: We're Working Out! The Al Kavadlo App

So, I generally don’t do reviews, so it means if I am doing one I either love the product or I really hate it to the point I need to put it in print so that I can stop being angry about it. Luckily (for you) this is the former.

Over the weekend, I was asked for help by someone who is an avid weightlifter, but due to work commitments (the film industry) she cannot get time to stick to her regular lifting program. I had been aware of Al Kavadlo, arguably one of the masters of modern no-equipment bodyweight training and, through his website, I found his app; We’re Working Out!

First of all, this is one of the nicest designs for a fitness app I have ever encountered. It’s easy to use, doesn’t overload you with info and everything is accompanied by tiny animated versions of Mr. Kavadlo himself doing the exercises. This feature is adorable and earns it bonus points because most apps use videos (often hard to view on a smartphone) or animations that are very much a faceless, generic, super jacked fitness model. This may not affect your ability to understand the exercise, but it certainly endears me to the product.

The workouts are simple, easy to follow and as promised use virtually no equipment. They are scaled based on ability, but you can also choose different types of workouts like 5x5, or 100 reps. These are based on progressive exercises that built on each other as your progress. It also contains some advanced skill based progressions like a human flag program for those of you that have a “hold my beer” streak.

The thing, however (tiny adorable Al animations aside), that sets this app apart for me is that it has assessments. Many programs fail to correctly establish your level first meaning that programs are either too easy or too hard, and this is a recipe for failure. The assessment is simple, here’s a series of movements, complete them with good form and without breaks and you are ready to move onto the next level. This scalability makes the program 10x more effective and really sets this apart from other apps, which generally only count weights, sets, and reps.

Finally, this app is free of macho bullshit. The animations, the language, and even the name “We’re Working Out” is a refreshing change in the face of the image generally presented in the fitness industry, and what else could we expect from an app developed by a man renown for smiling while performing the toughest bodyweight exercises out there.

This app is cheap (about 12 dollars CAD, and you can get all the novice workouts for free before you upgrade), it’s effective and you should have it on your phone, if for no other reason than to see tiny Al doing the toy soldier warm up.

Available on Android and iTunes.

Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
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