At-home workouts let you exercise from the comfort of your home on your own schedule.
We've tested some of the best fitness apps for specific workout types, intensity level, and overall quality.
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Nearly a year into the pandemic, you've probably at least thought about getting into at-home workouts. Thanks to our home-centric life, most of us are feeling the physical aches and pains of not moving enough throughout the day, let alone feeling stir-crazy and craving the need for movement. Even if you already have a solid workout routine, the winter weather is driving us indoors and most gyms are closed or at limited capacity - making living room workouts the most viable option to get the blood flowing and muscles moving.
The real question isn't why start, but simply where to start. There are literally hundreds of at-home fitness apps. For some, it's easy to narrow down. Perhaps you're looking for workout programs ideal for beginners, or ones that are totally free. If you set a goal of training for a race or specific event, you'd do well with personal training and AI workout apps.
But if you're just looking to spice up your fitness routine, move more, or get seriously fit, you need a head-to-head comparison of every app, free or subscription-based, trainer-focused or not. For this, we've tested a variety of workout apps and, based on workout type, length, level, and content quality, rounded up the best you can use to work out wherever you have a little space around your home.
Since no two apps are created equal, we understood that an app like Obé, which leans on community-building among its users and an energetic trainer roster, is a different animal than something like Aaptiv, an app that uses music for motivation. So, not only did we judge each app based on the testing methodology listed at the end of this guide, but we split them into specific groups to make it easier to pick out an app fit for your lifestyle.
Whether you're a beginner with no equipment who just wants to keep moving or a more seasoned gym-goer who has the gear but needs ideas on what to do, you'll find just what you're looking for.
Here are the best workout apps:
The best for generating unique workouts: Shred
The best for yoga: Alo Moves
The best from a personal trainer: KiraStokesFit App
The best from Nike: Nike Training Club
The best for workout variety: NEOU
The best for muscle group-specific workouts: Tone It Up
The best for community building: Obé
The best for music integration: Aaptiv
Updated on 1/21/2021 by Rachael Schultz: Added price to all apps, checked for broken links and availability, and updated the prices and formatting where necessary.
Best for creative workouts
If you love working out but need help coming up with workouts or don't know how to program your own, you'll quickly appreciate the work Shred does for you.
Pros: A new workout every day that's never the same, able to pinpoint specific parts of your body
Cons: The app requires you to click through every workout move and rest period
Simply choose your workout style (basic, classic, athlete, lean-X, cross shred, tone, or bulk), the duration of time you want to sweat (from 30-75 minutes), and this app provides you with different workouts to do every day. You also have the option for the workouts to be designated as bodyweight, which means they don't involve any additional equipment to complete.
As a person who's well versed in strength training but doesn't always have time to program my own routines, I absolutely love this app. I tell it what I want to work on, even down to the specific body part if I choose, and it provides me with a routine.
Even if you're not so familiar with working out, the app still offers plenty of videos for every single move that is easy to watch and follow. It clearly provides the reps to perform, and countdowns rest for you while providing a motivational quote from a fitness figure, athlete, or expert.
At the end of whatever workout you choose, you have the option to add in a quick cardio and/or a quick shred finisher, both of which are roughly five minutes and cap off your workout with a bang. Some days I chose both and others I chose one or neither. No matter which I go with, I never have a bad workout with this app.
Best for yoga
Choose from over 1,600 yoga, fitness, mindfulness, and skills classes in the Alo Moves app to create your personalized week of workouts.
Pros: Over 1,600 classes with a main focus on training the mind and body
Cons: The large list of offered classes can feel overwhelming for newcomers
Price: $20/mo or $200/yr
You might know the brand as Alo Yoga but its app, Alo Moves, includes more than just yoga classes. You have the option to take classes in four areas: yoga, fitness, mindfulness, and skills.
Yoga features instruction on ashtanga, Hatha, restorative, Vinyasa, kundalini, and prenatal, while fitness covers strength, Pilates, barre, HIIT, stretching, and core. The mindfulness section offers sound bath, breathwork, meditation, and personal growth routines and the skills include sections on how to teach, inversions, backbends, arm balances, mobility, and flexibility.
I liked using this app when I wanted to slow things down a bit. Besides the cardio and HIIT classes, I found most of the classes were calming, and a lot were rooted in yoga. I also enjoyed that the app offered classes that focused on the mental aspect of fitness.
They have plenty of classes under 30 minutes, and some as short as 10, allowing you to get a quick workout, even if you're busy. You can even create your own workout playlists where you're able to group classes based on a feature they have in common. I even tried the prenatal class with my pregnant sister and it was effective and safe for her.
Best personal trainer-based
Kira Stokes' unmatched energy and her own personal fitness goals keep you coming back for more workouts daily.
Pros: High energy, challenging workouts, plenty of workout variety
Cons: Equipment requirements can hold some people back from using the app
Price: 7-day free trial; $15/mo or $145/yr
Trainer and fitness personality, Kira Stokes, created her own platform called The Stoked Method, and the KiraStokesFit App allows anyone to get in on the program. From full-body workouts and band camp (resistance band workouts) to 30-minute or less body part-specific workouts, there's a lot of variety in the app that any at-home fitness buff can enjoy.
I liked that the workouts were always challenging, though Kira offers modifications so anyone from a beginner to a more advanced exerciser can enjoy them. Her full-body workouts were perfect for cardio days thanks to her consistently high energy in each — this motivated me to hold on for even just one rep more than I wouldn't have otherwise.
Most of the workouts do require some basic equipment like bands, a jump rope, a ball, and dumbbells, though there are some that go equipment free. I recommend adding a Stoked Ladder to the end of any workout for a killer finisher, too.
Best for workout variety
Sweat with some incredible, knowledgeable trainers, who lead you through intense workouts on the Nike Training Club app.
Pros: Each workout is labeled by skill level from beginner to advanced, offers Nike's deep well of personal trainer insight, Free
Cons: Could use more expert tips, especially for recovery and sleep
Get over 200 workouts for free, or unlock the premium version of this app and get that plus full programs led by trainers (versus short videos of individual moves in the free version). There are over 150 exclusive workouts as well as nutrition and wellness guidance to accompany your fitness journey. The workouts include total body, yoga, ab routines, cardio bursts, and more.
Each workout has a level rating consisting of either beginner, intermediate, or advanced. I liked knowing this before picking a workout, as it helped me decide which options to choose from depending on what I was trying to do that day. For instance, I'm more advanced at strength training and HIIT, but beginner to intermediate at yoga.
The app also lists what the workouts are good for, whether that's strength, speed, agility, or others, and whatever equipment you'll need. The expert tips in the premium version on how to do each workout are extremely actionable, even if you feel you're already a master of a specific routine.
Knowing the workouts are coming from an established brand like Nike, and that the instructors are certified and qualified, helps you trust that they're legit. There's truly a workout for everyone at every level in their fitness journey, too, and each is designed to make you sweat (a lot).
And best of all, this high-quality content is all free.
Best for live classes
NEOU grants access to almost 2,000 different on-demand and live-streamed workouts from some of the top fitness trainers.
Pros: Extensive library of live and on-demand classes, full programs, machine-based workouts for anyone with a stationary bike or treadmill
Cons: The app doesn't let you browse by individual instructor
Price: 7-day free trial; $50/yr
NEOU allows you to follow a guided workout program or you can browse classes by concept, which includes 72 different options like Pilates, machine cardio, strength, dance, and Bootcamp. This allows you to stick with a similar instructor or style of workout that you enjoy, or you can switch it up daily.
I loved that not only do you have access to the class library but this app also lets you attend live class, where you can work out with the instructor and class in real-time. This felt slightly more high energy and motivating than if I was just taking a class on my own. I also like being able to follow a specific program from beginning to end — that feeling, once you reach the end, is incredibly rewarding.
The app hosts workout programs from some of the top trainers in the industry, too, and they even have a few machine-based classes for treadmill or stationary bike users. They also offer pre- and post-natal programs, too.
Best for muscle group-specific workouts
Tone It Up offers a huge library of muscle group-specific workouts, as well as a deep community of friendly trainers that make each workout a blast to jump in and out of.
Pros: Intense weekly programs created by the trainers, muscle group-specific classes
Cons: Typically targeted towards women so there are often fewer men in the community
Price: 7-day free trial; $13/mo or $84/yr
Katrina and Karena founded Tone It Up (TIU) years ago and are still going strong with amazing workouts and an incredible community to go along with it. You can choose between a weekly workout program created by the trainers, or an individual workout sorted by the day. And because of the current climate, TIU is offering everyone a free month of full access to the app.
I enjoyed the fact that you're able to filter each workout by specific muscle group, the amount of time you have, or equipment available to you at home. The full workout programs offer a great way to stay committed to an ongoing routine, too. On days where I didn't have enough time to get through what's allotted, I could swap in a shorter workout and still break a sweat — which is always better than skipping entirely.
The app also lets you save your favorite workouts so you can do them again at a later time and even features an entire nutrition tab that has numerous recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The TIU community offers plenty of support, as well, and encourages members to share their progress for uplifting feedback.
Best for community building
Obé offers intense, 28-minute workout classes led by instructors that care as much about creating positive relationships with members as they do the classes themselves.
Pros: Live workouts all day long, attentive instructors who help motivate members
Cons: Programs are created by grouping specific workouts from the on-demand library, not new ones
Price: 7-day free trial; $27/mo, $65/3 mos, or $200/yr
Unlike other apps where the main attraction is the library of on-demand workouts, this app offers live classes all day long. The obé site lists the upcoming schedule up for the week, so you know exactly what's coming, and it also lists the specific class type and equipment needed, too. Can't make it to the class you want? Obé still has on-demand workouts to choose from at any time.
There are up to 14 live classes daily, and I liked being able to schedule them ahead of time. The app even allows you to add them to your calendar to help hold yourself accountable to tune in — I live and die by my calendar, so this was extremely helpful. The instructors talk directly to members, by name, who tune in live during each class which helps give you the motivation for a mid-cardio burst or plank hold.
From boxing and sculpting to strength, dance cardio, and barre, you're bound to find a class (or two, or three) you like. The app has full programs to follow, too, if that's something you prefer.
Best for music integration
If you love to workout along to the beat of your favorite music, Aaptiv lets you do just that.
Pros: Perfect for machine cardio workouts where you don't normally watch videos, recommended workouts can be tailored to your specific fitness goals
Cons: No videos
Price: 7-day free trial; $15/mo or $100/yr
Not only do Aaptiv workouts come with an included playlist, but they're guided audio workouts versus visual ones. So, if you're not a fan of watching a video and working out along with it, you can just play the workout and do it along with the instructor's voice, with music in the background. It's great for cardio workouts, where you're usually just listening to music anyway.
I especially enjoy Aaptiv for its treadmill workouts. I typically just put on music when I run on the treadmill anyway, so this app is so perfect because not only do I get the music, but I get a trainer in my ear, too. This helps direct my workout so I don't have to try to keep track of when to speed up or slow down if I'm trying to replicate an interval session. It's a lot easier than watching a clock on my own, too.
The trainers are all very motivating and you can also let the app know your workout goals and music choices so that recommended workouts are tailored specifically to what you're striving for.
How we test
Each app featured in this guide went through multiple rounds of testing to assess how well it stacked up across these four categories: workout variety, motivation, ease of use, and variety. Here's how each category specifically factored into testing:
Workout variety – Doing the same handful of workouts gets boring quickly and because of that, can lose its ability to motivate you to workout even quicker. An app with a wide variety of classes, class types, and even instructors, goes a long way toward allowing you to look forward to turning it on each day and for keeping up with your routine fitness.
Motivation – Motivation can be presented in a number of ways, be it the gamification of accruing stats like calories burned or steps taken, a motivating lineup of trainers pushing you toward the finish line, or a good selection of tunes. Those the specifics vary, one thing is consistent: When an app doesn't have a noticeable method for motivation, it's far less enjoyable to use.
Ease of use – How easy an app is to use comes down to not just the simplicity of the app and what it offers, but also how straightforward it is to navigate its interface, find new workouts, and explore what else it has to offer. Having the ability to stream or cast the workouts to a larger screen (like a TV) is also a nice touch.
Value – As at-home workouts continue to gain popularity, it's natural to view the monthly dues for a premium app as your new gym membership. But with so many options available, assessing which app is more valuable than another isn't always straightforward. When considering this category, we evaluated not just its monthly cost but also how much variety it offered, both in terms of workout types and new content, its reusability, how well it suffices at a monthly workout companion, and if it's capable of actually supplanting your need for a physical fitness studio.
Read the original article on Insider