In my quest for washboard abs, I came across Nike+ Training Club (NTC). The exercise app, a sister to the popular Nike+ Run Club, is a free downloadable app from the popular fitness brand — presumably to lure us into buying more of their workout clothes.
Basically, this program walks you through whatever exercise you’re supposed to be doing, all with visuals, audio narration, and even encouragement! But, what’s so great about NTC is its exercise variety coupled with an interface that allows you to find one that works for your needs. Nike’s athletic apparel is no joke and apparently, their workout apps aren’t, either.
You can create workout plans
There are four options to choose from: Start up, to get you on the right road to start your fitness journey; lean fit, to push endurance; bodyweight only, for exercising without weights; and gym strong, a lifting program.
Choosing one entails a quick setup. The app asks about your normal exercise routines, activity levels, and details about your body. There’s an option to include running to your workout and it lets you pick what your start date would be.
An exercise plan is then built for you based on info you input, complete with a workout schedule and what program you’re supposed to do on each specific date. This highly customizable option leaves you with only one more thing to do: the actual exercising.
Or specifically curate your exercises
If you’re a little picky with your workouts, or if you’re a strong, independent woman who can make her own workout plans, you can just choose specific workouts for each time you do a session.
NTC offers handpicked exercises in their “Picks for you” section but you can also browse each workout by focus, whether they be for strength, endurance, or mobility; or type, whose choices include yoga, athlete, no-equipment, short workouts, and classics.
There are also different intensity levels!
Because NTC recognizes the wide range of people who use their app, each option is categorized into one of three groups: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. This makes it easy for you to gauge if your exercise choice is actually doable for your fitness level — and mind you, the intermediate to advanced levels are no walks in the park. You will get challenged; something I look for in fitness activities to prevent me from getting bored with my workouts.
Each workout preview allows for the user to see the duration and intensity for each one. A quick overview will also show you which parts of your body they’re good for and what equipment you’d need. NTC also gives a quick rundown of each specific exercise for a selected workout, presumably to let you know what you’re in for (which also means no backing out).
Unlike those genetically blessed to be over 25 without a slowing down metabolism, I — like the rest of us fitness pariahs — need to take extra effort to make sure I get exercise in. Although I have gotten significantly better with my fitness routine, I still struggle to find the best and most convenient way for me to exercise despite a hectic and random work schedule.
I’ve always said that consistency is the key part in getting fit but from personal experience, it’s very hard to keep an exercise routine when scheduling, traveling, and general life scenarios keep getting away. NTC is a quick solution to all these issues: It allows me to work out anywhere and anytime I’d want with just my smartphone in hand.
For a free app, I honestly did not expect this many options. I was pleasantly surprised by the exercise variety offered and how easy it is to actually find something that would work for whatever circumstances or limitations I had at the moment.
Although I still do not have those washboard abs I dream of, I now exercise more than I used to and althleisurewear, unsurprisingly, is now something I live for.
[irp posts=”13958" name=”Fitbit Alta HR review”]
Even Microsoft listens to your Skype and Cortana recordings
Absolute privacy is a myth
A couple of weeks back Apple admitted it listens to accidental triggers of Siri to analyze and improve user experience. They also added that none of the recordings are associated with the user’s identity. However, contractors tasked to listen to these recordings admit coming across clips that revealed personal data.
Now, even Microsoft admits it uses human contractors to review its users’ audio. The list of “listening” companies also includes Amazon, Facebook, and Google. If you want absolute privacy, going off-the-grid may be your only option.
Microsoft uses third-party contractors to listen to your voice conversations on Skype and virtual assistant Cortana. The updated privacy statement says a human review is used to help build, train and improve the accuracy of its artificial intelligence systems.
While other companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple have suspended these collections, Microsoft says it will “continue to examine further steps we might be able to take.” In simpler terms, “Screw you, we’ll continue doing it.”
The company also says the recordings may actually be subject to “transcription of audio recordings by Microsoft employees and vendors.”
Users are increasingly worried about online privacy since the Cambridge Analytica scandal was revealed. Technology companies have a huge chunk of our daily lives and many aren’t comfortable with it. Especially when privacy policies are complex and security loopholes are widely abused.
Facebook will have dark mode for mobile
Things are looking bright for our eyes
Facebook is working on Dark Mode for mobile
I wrote a blog about this: https://t.co/X5tAZuIlPz
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) August 12, 2019
Wong came across the unreleased dark mode for Android by looking in the code underneath, indicating that the tech giant has recently started implementing the feature. However, it seems that Facebook’s dark mode is still in its early stage of development.
By “early stage of development”, this is what I mean
Only the Groups tab is looking good for the demo at the moment 😅 pic.twitter.com/L1SHaWlSk1
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) August 13, 2019
While some users declared having it already on Facebook Watch, Wong emphasized that the dark mode is underway across the whole Facebook app.
There are no words yet from Facebook regarding dark mode nor its timeline for implementation. However, things are looking bright for our eyes that are hurt by bright lights should the tech giant implements the much-awaited feature. It’s only a matter of time before we embrace the dark.
Creative hacks to improve your Instagram Stories
Using only Instagram and native phone apps
Instagram has become an outlet for a lot of creatives over the years. It’s evolved from a platform where we share mundane photos of food and moods to hyper-curated grids — until Instagram Stories was introduced, that is. If you’re one of those people who barely post anything other than stories, here are some easy and not-so-simple ways on how they can look better so you can tell your stories better:
Use the native camera app
Most phones released in 2019 now have at least two different cameras — a combination of wide angle and telephoto, or wide angle and ultra-wide angle. Some even have up to three or four in total. Take advantage of these lenses by taking your photos on the native camera app instead of going straight to Instagram. By using an ultra-wide angle lens you can fit more in your shot without walking several steps backwards. If your phone has a built-in night mode, your low light shots will also turn out much better when you take them using the camera app instead of Instagram’s camera.
“Wrap” your caption around shapes
If your caption is a bit long, get creative by wrapping them around your subject’s shape. If you have a photo of food or coffee for example, you can type the letters one by one around the plate or cup.
Apply your video camera’s built-in filters
Smartphone cameras are getting more and more features each year. On the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 for example, there’s a feature called Live Focus Video where you get a TV glitch filter. This adds a retro, vaporwave aesthetic to your videos without having to install a third party app.
Make your subject pop by doodling around it. You can add dots, lines, hearts, stars, or broken lines around it — whatever you can think of! Doodles can also add a better narrative to your story than captions when Spider-Man appears out of nowhere for instance.
Animate your captions
By simply adding small GIFs like stars around your caption, or integrating word GIFs into your caption can make it look like it’s animated. If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note 10, you can also get animated handwriting with the S Pen using the phone’s native editor whether that’s on a photo or a video.
“Mask” your subject
Another way to make your subject stand out is by “masking” lines or handwriting behind it. Simply write over your subject using any of the pen shapes, then erase parts of the lines or handwriting to make it seem like it appears over and under the subject.
Mix fonts with your handwriting
Instagram’s font selection may be limited but doesn’t mean your imagination should be. Pick any font to write your caption with — ideally anything but Neon — then pick one word to replace with your handwriting. You can also play around with tracking by simply adding spaces in between letters.
The trick in making your Instagram Stories look better is to not overshare and not overdo any of the effects. Just because you can add GIFs doesn’t mean you should plaster the entire screen with them. While it should feel more raw than your posts, be more purposeful in what you share — always try tell a story whether you’re sharing a photo or a video. It’s called Instagram Stories for a reason.
How do you make your Stories different? Share your tips with us in the comments section below.
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