08/15/2011 01:04 pm ET Updated Oct 15, 2011

Reconnecting Through an App: Hello Sunshine, Goodbye Gym

Like many young, middle-young and not-so-young women, I've been a little bit obsessed with my body since I turned 14. There have been times when the obsession was a quiet voice, saying, "Perhaps you shouldn't eat that pint of ice cream unless you plan on going to Linda Evans for a few hours." There were other times when the voice was much louder, borderline drill sergeant, screaming, "You will put down that delicious Ben and Jerry's and you will run until you cannot run anymore!" Since the discovery of my hips, I've been trying to slim them down, and as a result have spent thousands of dollars on gym memberships where I get toned under bad fluorescent lighting. But now, thanks to my iPhone, and two free Nike applications from the Apple Store, I will never pay another dollar to big corporate gyms that keep me locked away from the sunshine and my community.

It all started when I realized Nike had a GPS app that would track my runs. At first, using it on the treadmill, I held the phone in my hand like some jerk who thinks she is too important to leave it in the car. Feeling like I was going nowhere and inspired by a person running past the gym as I ran in place watching CNN, I hopped off the treadmill and started jogging outside, under the glorious sunshine and among other happy and active world participants. I thought, "Well, I can use the app to track my run to and from the gym, and then use the gym for its weights." I put the phone in my pocket and let satellites do the work.

The first few runs to the gym were hard. The hills in real life are much more hilly than the treadmill, and I couldn't lower the incline whenever I got tired, which sucked. But then, after a few runs and with the help of the Cheer feature on the App, I built up the stamina and confidence to run all the way there, do some weights and run all the way back. And on the way there and back, I started noticing all these cute little shops I normally speed past in the car. There were sushi joints I'd never seen, nail salons, two movie theaters, a cheese shop, all these wonderful mom and pop shops that are super close to my casa.

Finally, I came home and told my boyfriend what I'd discovered, the incredibleness that is our three-mile radius community. I said, "It's like there's a whole world within running distance!" He laughed at me, "You should download the Nike Training Club too, then you don't have to go to the gym for weights."

And in that moment, my life changed forever.

This free application has everything I need. With over fifty different workouts using nothing more than cheap free weights and a medicine ball, which I already owned, I can train with Hollywood Trainer Jeanette Jenkins, who coaches me through an Ab Blast routine that has revealed glorious obliques in my frozen-yogurt-padded tummy. I can do a high intensity, cardiovascular routine with Li Na, a rockin' pro Chinese tennis player who just won the 2011 French Open. I get awesome badges, healthy recipes, and because the app keeps track of how many minutes you workout and awards badges accordingly, I have a workout with Glee's Lea Michele waiting at a thousand minutes, and I can only pray that she will sing just for me.

This app even helped my guy and me become friends with our neighbors. We were bunny-hopping around the apartment holding medicine balls over our heads when residents on both sides of the walls came to ask if we were okay. One even offered us a discounted gym membership, an offer I politely declined.

I have 10 more miles until my goal of 75 miles on the GPS App, then I'm going to reward myself with a new pair of running shoes for sticking with the program. And after a week of getting my a** kicked by the Training App, a week of being more sore than I'd ever been from going to the gym, I called up my place of workout and cancelled the membership. Instead of paying some crazy, exorbitant fee to a personal trainer, who -- for me -- had become more of a cheerleader than a teacher, I can now save money and spend that money enjoying the wonderful community in which I live. So thank you iPhone, Nike, Jeanette, Li, Lea, and everyone who cheers me on when I am starting to slow down. Not only have you helped me shape the body that has been the bane of my existence since 14, but also you've connected me to my community, my neighbors, my boyfriend, and most especially, myself.