The holidays are here again. Time for family, friends and wondering what to do when Grandma pulls that five-stick-o-butter apple pie hot and fresh from the oven. Finding ourselves wedged between the gorging holidays with New Year’s resolutions right around the corner, we’ve all hopefully considered some version of an exercise regimen. Personal trainers, however, can be expensive; running groups are usually full of people already in shape; and surrounding yourself with muscle-bound dudes named Ivan at the local gym isn’t our idea of a good way to start the day. It’s time to take matters into your own hands.

There are a few great workout apps available that measure cardio stats on your smartphone, but the Pear Mobile ($100) takes things a step (pun intended) further. The service provides real-time coaching from a professional trainer based on the Bluetooth heart rate monitor and your iPhone’s internal GPS, ensuring you maximize efforts and results. Don’t have an iPhone? They have a plan for that too.


And don’t be fooled by the hot mom on the box. After completing a 20-minute fitness test to calibrate the software to your heart rate, downloading free plans ranging from a 9-circuit cardio/abs workout to a 30-minute spin means some serious motivation for big time fitness. The voice of a pre-recorded personal trainer accompanies your copious sweating, offering feedback like “slow it down a little and bring your heart rate back to zone two” based on real-time measurements; to keep your mind off the burn, the app also provides helpful TED-Talk-styled health information during the run.

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The heart rate monitor strap takes a little finagling to connect, and the constant Bluetooth and GPS connection steal a few percentage points from your battery’s life. The headphones are extremely comfortable, stay put, are lightweight and provide a decent audio range — you can pump your White Panda album until the coaching engages by simply lowering the volume and speaking surprisingly accurate and helpful information. Stats are tracked well. Thanks to a number of runs over a month my heart zone measurements had to be re-calibrated: I had improved my fitness. Nice. Now where is that apple pie?