Silicon Valley startup “Digital Environment” aims to serve both couch potatoes and experienced athletes alike with the release of Private Coach, the personal training software that claims to bring computerized training advice to a new level.
The program comes with all standard fitness software features including a workout diary, nutrition tracker, exercise and food database, statistics and reports, a feature to set your fitness goals, and the ability to track a wide range of fitness parameters such as BMI or resting heart rate. These features are all of high quality; the calendar, for example, allows for setting up repeatedly occuring events as sophisticated recurring cycles and includes a day, week, month, and two different year views.
However, what truly sets Private Coach apart from the competition is “TrainerAssistance”, a set of unique features to create personalized endurance and strength training plans and to analyze and fine-tune your workouts. If so desired, TrainerAssistance will take an elaborate assessment of your health and fitness history, goals, and preferences such as preferred sports, training times, and available equipment. From this data the software produces a training schedule and “fitness roadmaps” which visually show your current and upcoming training level and the requirements to advance. You always know where you are, what’s next, and why you do what you do.
When “advancing” a level, new exercises or training parameters (such as a lower number of strength exercise repetitions, but with increased resistance) come into play. The frequent change keeps you motivated and prevents your muscles from getting used to certain movements, which can cause progress stagnation. The program even contains a complete module for interval training with the ability to define your own intervals and incorporate them into your training program.
Private Coach looks at the performance and feedback of recent sessions and suggests “target values” for the next one, such as the distance to run, or the number of laps to swim. However, all TrainerAssistance features are optional. If you have already figured out your optimal routine, the program serves as a workouts and nutrition tracker and as an exercise database.
The database itself is impressive. Each of the hundreds of strength, flexibility, Yoga, Plyometrics, and other exercises comes with video demonstration and clear instructions. As for the nutrition part, the database contains many thousands of food items and their nutrients, as well as a separate recipe module which calculates the nutrients of your favorite dishes.
The software calculates the recommended number of calories and other key nutritional values on a day-by-day basis. The software is very detailed here; on the one hand, it takes things like the swimstyle or slight slopes on your bicycle trail into account to calculate the number of burned calories during a training session.
On the other hand, it will look at your consumed foods, job activity and stress level, or other relevant factors (e.g., the current pregnancy trimester) to determine your recommended calories. It even looks at the compounds of your consumed foods to determine how much energy is required to digest them.
This level of detail can be found throughout the program. Private Coach includes some features for which a separate program used to be required, such as a shoe mileage tracker, a GPS data importer (with the ability to create kml files for display in Google Earth), or a PDF writer for various elements such as training sessions or statistics.
From within the application, you can connect to the manufacturer’s server and see if new content is available for a free download, such as hiking trails, exercises, equipment, or food items. You can also upload your own content to the server for sharing it with the community.
If you ever wondered how you can adjust that canned training advice you found online to fit your schedule and lifestyle, here might be a solution.
The program is available now for Windows at private-coach.com starting at $45 for the Personal Edition with a Mac version to follow later this year.