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Fourteen free fitness apps to get in shape for 2016

There are a ton of free fitness apps out there to help you keep, or start, a New Year's resolution. 

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    Maria Alexandrova performs during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia (Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015). You may not become a ballet dancer by using fitness apps, but they can certainly help you achieve moderate fitness goals.
    Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/File
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New year, new you, right? But before you go signing up for that expensive gym membership or hauling yourself to the nutritionist, remember that you live in the year 2016, and you probably have a smartphone. There are a wealth of free and inexpensive health and fitness apps out there that can help you achieve your New Years resolutions for less, so why shell out the big bucks?

We rounded up the 14 most popular workout and nutrition apps for every kind of lifestyle, so you don't need to spend a fortune to stay in shape in 2016!

Meal Tracking Apps

  • MyFitnessPal  -- Probably the most popular meal-tracking app on the market right now, MyFitnessPal allows you to set daily calorie intake goals and input all the food you eat. It also tracks macros and nutrition, so if you're trying to cut back on carbs, you'll know which foods to avoid and which to double up on. Another thing this app does that I love is track your steps and subtract the calories you burned just living your everyday life. You can also input any exercise routines you did, but be aware that the app isn't very good at tracking calories burned on weight training.
  • Calorific -- This simple app helps you quickly and easily identify what 200 calories of a certain food looks like. With hundreds of pretty pictures and a comparison section that will help you make better meal choices, this app is good for people who don't want to get so technical. Once you know what 200 calories of blueberries look like, it's easy to eyeball it in real life.
  • Lose It! -- Similar to MyFitnessPal, Lose It! allows you to set a goal weight and a daily calorie intake budget, and helps you calculate calories burned from exercise. A great feature of this app is the Challenge section, which allows you to turn your fitness goals into a game. Go head to head with yourself, your friends or even with a group of strangers and keep yourself accountable.
  • Fooducate -- Fooducate rates all the food you eat on a A-F scale based on nutritional value, and some of its ratings can come as a surprise. The nationally beloved Heinz ketchup clocks in at measly D+, and vanilla Silk almond milk is barely passing with a C+. These ratings are especially helpful if you're just starting on the path to clean eating, as many seemingly innocuous or "healthy" foods are actually anything but.

Running Apps

  • Zombies, Run! -- This fun app turns your daily run into a live-action zombie video game. As you jog, the app will tell you the story of your mission through your headphones: you're one of the last surviving humans on a planet ravished by zombies, and running is all that can save you from their rotting grip. As you run you'll gather points and supplies, and you'll be forced to speed up when a crowd of the undead is right at your heels. Everyone I know who uses this app is obsessed with it, and the story alone is worth taking a daily run to listen to.
  • 5K/10K Trainer -- I'm a big fan of these apps, which help you train for either a 5K or a 10K with verbal workout cues. You can also stream your music or a podcast through the app while you run, and the voice commands will still come through loud and clear. I went from lounging on the couch after work every day to actually being able to run a 5K in under 30 minutes, and I'm now about halfway through the 10K version. The best part about this app is the notifications they send you if you haven't logged a workout in a couple days. They're super supportive but still pushy enough to get you up and running.
  • Map My Run -- Pick from thousands of different runs in your city or map your own, and track your calorie intake at the same time. This app is great if you want to explore new parts of the city, and one guy recently took his girlfriend on a run that spelled out "Will you marry me?" so it looks like it's good for really tiring proposals too.
  • Nike+ -- The Nike+ running app is similar to Map My Run in that it uses GPS to track the time, distance and intensity of your run. It also allows you to take a moment to reflect on your mood after your workout, which can help motivate you when you're not in the mood to hit the pavement.

Weight Training Apps

  • Pumping Weight -- A simple, no-frills lifting tracker that analyzes your workouts and nudges you if it thinks you need to be doing leg day more often. The interface is sleek and pretty and the tools are easy to use and customize to you and your workout goals.
  • FitnessBuilder -- This app from PumpOne is has both a free and a $6.99/month version. The free version will give you access to 16 different workouts that are each tailored to you and your lifestyle. Have no access to a gym or weights? Try their equipment-free workouts. Want to start slow? Go with the beginner options.
  • GymGoal -- GymGoal prides itself in being "the most powerful, flexible and professional workout app," and its hard to argue with this assessment when you consider the sheer amount of features it's got. It's not simple by any means, but what it lacks in simplicity it makes up for in flexibility. If you're a beginner, the app will guide you through the process of starting to lift, helping you figure our which exercises and weights fit with your current goals and strength. If you're an old pro, you'll find this app supports actions like drop sets and split routines which few other apps do. It does cost a one-time fee of $5.99, but compared with the price of a personal trainer, that's nothing.
  • StrongLifts 5x5 -- This is as simple as it gets. StrongLifts 5x5 builds all your workouts out of a different combination of five exercises: the squat, the bench press, the deadlift, the overhead press and barbell row. You do three of these every workout, which typically last for around 45 minutes.

Miscellaneous Workout Apps

  • Skimble Workout Trainer -- This app truly has something for everyone. Whether you're into yoga, weight training or cardio, there are thousands of video-guided workouts to choose from. You can download this app if you're on the go, or you can use the desktop version if you want a bigger screen to work from.
  • Sworkit -- With Sworkit, all you have to do is choose a category (strength, stretching, cardio, pilates, or yoga), select how long you want to work out, and go! You'll be provided with both verbal instructions and cues and video demonstrations, and you can even customize your own workout if you want!

This article first appeared at Brad's Deals.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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