Editor's note: All versions of PumpForLife Level 1 (Mac/Windows, Female/Male) sell for US$59 (which roughly converts to AU$78).
Some may balk at PumpedForLife's US$59 price tag -- and I don't blame you -- but for fitness-minded iPod users looking for easy-to-follow routines, this software hits the mark. In fact, Treo users can get on board, too: this software is compatible with any devices that display JPEG photos. Just be careful not to get tangled up in your headphone cord while you get pumped up.
PumpedForLife includes a four-week workout schedule.
PumpedForLife is really just a series of pictures separated into various routine folders -- Level 1 (weekly and daily schedule), Cardio Intervals, Cross Training, Hatha Yoga, Strength Day 1, Strength Day 2, and Strength Day 3 -- so the installer merely copies these over to your My Pictures folder (on a Windows machine; it's also Mac-compatible). The images take up about 19MB of space and need to be transferred to the iPod via iTunes, as with other photos.
Each week is slightly different. Workouts are scheduled for Monday through Saturday, but you can vary them as you see fit.
Level 1 of PumpedForLife consists of a four-week training program; each week has six days of working out and one day of rest. As there are six routines, you do them all each week, but the cardio/yoga workouts move around in the week, and the strength training days each require different reps each week. All of this info is clearly laid out in the various slides.
The PumpedForLife slides are excellently illustrated.
The slides themselves are brightly coloured and very easy to follow. The cardio routine starter image gives you a choice of six activities -- bicycle, jump rope, elliptical, stair climber, rower, and treadmill -- accompanied by an image of each, which could be handy for newbies who know nothing about fitness equipment. Then, you get a slide that gives you target heart-rate levels for different age ranges. This routine uses heart-rate levels to assign intervals, so each of the following slides shows an amount of time accompanied by a heart-rate goal percentage. The downside to this method is that you must use a heart-rate monitor to achieve the best results--the intervals are fairly short, so taking your own pulse is more than bothersome. All told, the cardio workout lasts a manageable 35 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down.
Moves are clearly laid out. In certain cases, shots from several angles are provided so that you can ensure the correct form.
During testing, I mostly used the strength training routines, which were very easy to follow, thanks to excellent illustrations and explanations. Each move includes two slides: one that superimposes written instructions over a background of the move, and a second that shows the move itself in steps. In a few cases, I found the order of the workout to be a little off -- exercises using the same equipment weren't necessarily adjacent to each other in the lineup. However, the variety across all three strength training routines was excellent. Each circuit took about 40 minutes to complete.
I didn't try the yoga routine, though it, too, is admirably illustrated. But it probably takes some practice to get the hang of the moves, since constantly looking at your iPod might impede the flowing nature of yoga. This particular workout would benefit greatly from audio cues.
All in all, I'd recommend PumpedForLife to people who are in decent shape -- it's slightly challenging -- but need some easy-to-follow routines for the gym. It'd be nice if a gym membership wasn't necessary, but the variety of equipment pretty much requires it -- unless you have a weight bench, a bar, free weights, a stability ball and resistance bands at home. The manageable length of the routines is definitely appreciated. Of course, the real test of this software is what kind of results you achieve over the four-week training period. Based on the variation and difficulty, chances are that you'll get visible results within a month -- provided you don't cheat or skip days. Leave feedback about your experience in the user comments section.