Engage in a Daily Digital Detox

The Best Exercise Apps

In the past week alone, I’ve had three people ask me to recommend an exercise app for their phone. In response, I jokingly tweeted that the best app is whatever gets you to put your phone away. And while I was clearly poking fun at the question, there is some truth to my response. Perhaps I am too old school for my own good, but I’m big believer in putting away all handheld devices when it comes time to train. 

Digital Zombies

More and more people are spending an exorbitant amount of time glued to their phones. Ample research suggests that the average person spends several hours each day staring at an electronic device. As a result, many people find themselves struggling to accomplish anything worthwhile despite the fact that they always seem busy.

These people essentially live in a reactive state as opposed to one that is productive. Whenever their phone pings a notification, the fingers go scrambling to see what it is. The temptation is too great to wait until later.

Consequently, it has become increasingly rare for some people to engage in continuous, uninterrupted work. Whether it is social media, emails, or texts, the next distraction is never more than a few minutes away. With that in mind, I am a big believer in putting my phone down whenever it is time to accomplish some real work.

Minimize Distractions

Although I host a website that aids my offline business, I am much more productive when I limit the frequency at which I engage in online communications. The best thing I ever did was to set aside specific times to respond to emails and social media inquiries. Doing so allows me to not only perform better work offline, but I’m also more focused when responding to incoming questions. I’m not doing five things at once and quickly responding to an email in the middle of something else. Instead, I’ve dedicated a specific time to respond to incoming questions.

Relevance to Exercise

If I can improve my business productivity by minimizing distractions, it goes without saying that similar improvements can be realized by exercising without distractions. Speaking as a coach, I have absolutely no tolerance for an athlete who feels the need to check his phone in the middle of a practice or workout. Time spent staring at the screen almost always indicates a lack of focus. And if you aren’t focused, you aren’t getting the most out of your training.

Furthermore, dedicating time to a digital detox isn’t just about focus. I firmly believe that it is beneficial (physically and mentally) to enjoy the world around you without interference from an electronic device. There is so much more to living than what can be seen or experienced through a screen.

Those who disagree almost certainly grew up in a different world from what I experienced as a kid. Speaking as someone who was born in the 1970s, I am extremely thankful that I grew up without the Internet. We never once felt deprived simply because we weren’t connected through electronics. It was much more fun to get outside and enjoy the world around us without being distracted by technology. Even the fanciest Instagram filter cannot compare to what can be captured and experienced with your own two eyes.

Final Thoughts

In summary, I highly recommend that you dedicate a portion of each day to a digital detox. Don’t become a slave to your handheld device. Instead, make a conscious effort to enjoy the world around you. Activity separating yourself from the digital world is time well spent, and the time that you spend exercising provides an ideal opportunity. Use that time to focus on yourself without distractions from the outside world. Whatever is going on in cyberspace can wait until you are done.

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“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” – Seneca


  1. I was born in 1958 and the closest thing we had to the internet when I was growing up was a set of World Book encyclopedias. It’s crazy how people today stare at their phone all the time like it is about to reveal the mysteries of the universe. I don’t even have my phone with me when I’m trying to work out. On a different topic – Ross, if you get a chance, I would like to hear your specific recommendations for the use of the herb Cissus. I looked on the site but didn’t see it. I know you have mentioned it in the past. Thanks for all that you do.

    1. I know a lot of guys who have done well with cissus, but they typically just followed the general suggestions on the packaging as far as dosage and frequency.

      If it is going to work, it’s usually noticeable within a few weeks.

  2. I love that Seneca quote and it’s so appropriate for this post.

    “The best app is whatever gets you to put your phone away”. Put that on a T-Shirt 🙂

    The only time I use my phone during workouts is if I want to record myself performing a movement so I can later study it.

  3. You’re definitely not too old school Ross. If I were to recommend two apps to help people put the thing down, it would be a music player if their workout place didn’t have one set up already, and a round timer if they didn’t already own one. Then I’d tell em to put it on airplane mode and leave it like that for the duration of their workout. At the same time, some way to move while I’m already using a computer for the huge amount of time that I do should be far more productive than anything I can set up on my phone.

    All that said, my fiance and I will be going a week without our computers which will force us to use our phones to keep in touch with people, but there’s so much less we can do with just our phones and we already are more careful with how we manage that time. This should lead us to be more productive by itself.

  4. Nice post.
    2 years ago our televison was destroyed after a blizzard and we never buy a new one. Also we take time without mobile phone. It’s a wonderful experience.
    When I come home from work I train and then my wife and I cook together, eat together, have good time without starring on the smartphone or televison.
    But yesterday I forget to turn off the mobile phone while training and then a call comes in. I lost my focus at deadlifting. So today I feel pain in the neck. I think I have wrench a muscle.
    Your post come to the right time, from now I hold in mind to turn off the mobile phone at training.
    “Peccadillo is punished from god at once” (Don’t know if it right translated).
    Now I read your post and agree with that.
    More people should read your blog with this great posts.

  5. Hi Ross, great post. I was also born in the 70’s and your thoughts here reflect my own. I am always amused by the amount of people I see using their phones in the gym. I welcome that time away from all things electronic especially since my job now puts me in a position of having to use a computer much more. I have recently made a decision in work to not respond to emails constantly, and just have a set time in the day for this much like you have talked about. It has definitely reaped benefits interns of being able to get on with other stuff. I would highly recommend it.
    Love the Seneca quote.

  6. I agree except for my Gymboss timer. Been using the app version a lot more than the actual physical product version. That aside I agree 100%.

  7. People just look for an easy solution to everything. It is much easier to let someone else form a workout plan for you, hence an application that has ready workout plans and it rewards you with just minimum effort. But it is not easy for one to take full responsibility of his/her actions and their outcome, or take their time to study and try what is best for them. For one it is much harder the simple approach, of working hard with certain basic exercises, experience and feel their body and the world around, and see the possibilities of living a better life with their full potential.
    Sandly tech in making people lazy and weak. Our mind is looking to engage us in aan energetic and creative life but most people keep on trying to feel the gap they feel inside with tech, applications and more.
    sorry for the big text

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