I am a card holder member of the Club Living Room. Don’t get me wrong: I used to go to the gym at least three times a week. But when I started working – and exercising – from home, I converted to Islam. Mostly because of fitness apps.
These apps saved me money, and fit just about anywhere in my messy schedule. Even with a return to personal workouts, I plan to keep it in my routine. For most people, regardless of age, fitness level or amount of disposable income, the smartest path to fitness is through the app.
Sure, connected gym devices offer an integrated, distraction-free social experience full of sensors. But they have high upfront costs as well as a monthly subscription, and they often run proprietary software that doesn’t work with other content providers.
On the other hand, fitness apps can be customized to work at home or in the gym, with or without equipment, as well as outdoors. They can make exercising from home, or wherever you are, easy, fun and effective – as long as you choose the right exercise. The number of choices is massive: App Annie, a mobile analytics company, estimates that iOS and Android app stores will have at least 71,000 health and fitness apps worldwide in 2020.
What should a good fitness app offer? And how do you use an app to create a good, sustainable exercise routine?
“Fitness is not one-size-fits-all. A good application will take this into account by offering variety,” said Zacoia Lewis Trammell, associate professor of kinesiology at Cal State Polytechnic State University, Pomona. and intensity and style that allows you to choose, depending on your needs and level of fitness.
The most important aspect of the fitness app is that it offers exercises that you love to do, according to Amy Leighton, associate professor of physiology at Columbia University Medical Center and a member of the Peloton Health and Wellness Advisory Board, or combine something you like to do. Exercising – for example, watching TV while using an indoor cycling app like Zwift.
“Self-efficacy,” or the belief that you can successfully do what the program requires of you, is another important advantage, says Dr. Layton.
After testing dozens of different fitness apps, I have a few tips of my own:
• Free YouTube content and free trials can help you see what type of exercise you enjoy before committing to the program. (On iOS and Android, you can cancel the subscription right away to avoid being charged.) However, a paid subscription can mean a better experience and a greater commitment.
• During an activity, turn on Do Not Disturb. The email popup can quickly interrupt your workout. (On iOS, you can even set up Focus Mode for fitness to let the really important things get through.)
• Access to downloadable chapters is useful, especially for frequent travelers or people with poor internet access.
The following apps, my favorites over the past year, take all of the above into account. They kept me occupied with many different types of workouts, as well as warm-up and cool-down options to prevent injury. But, of course, working out is a very personal activity, so try before you buy – all of these platforms offer a free trial.
it’s for: Fitness enthusiasts motivated by music
the price: $13/month
platforms: iOS, Android, Web, Apple AAPL 0.10%
TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Android TV
Peloton offers a lot more to its app subscribers, customers who don’t have a company bike or treadmill. Join multiple classes that are streamed live daily, or download on-demand exercises without an internet connection. Music-themed app’s Artist Series workouts are the best: try BTS riding, AC/DC full body strength classes, and Beyoncé dance cardio. Guided outdoor tracks and trails are also available. You can connect the heart rate sensor via Bluetooth or Apple Watch to see the Search Result based on your heart rate zones. App users cannot see how their metrics stack up against other members on the Peloton leaderboard – this is exclusive to people who own his equipment.
it’s for: those that focus on vigilance
the price: $20 per month or $199 per year
platforms: iOS, Android, Web, Apple TV, Chromecast
The Alo Moves library is full of content for people who prefer to move around on a yoga mat. From challenging yoga to epic audio bath meditation, the app houses a range of classes. There are also Barre, Pilates, and strength exercises. I do not know from where to begin? Join one of the Alo Moves chains, which includes a virtual yoga retreat on the island of Santorini. If you can’t be in Greece, take your workout abroad: any class you bookmarked can be downloaded offline.
it’s for: people who want to plan
the price: $20 per month or $120 per year
platforms: iOS, Android, Web
Sweat is a personal training app based on 37 different programs ranging in length from 2 weeks to 24+. After you select a program, the app plots your workout schedule on a calendar. Instead of a studio-style guided workout, Sweat collects personalized workouts for each exercise. You can enter the equipment you have access to, choose your playlist, select a pre-workout warm-up, and replace any exercises that are too easy or too difficult. And if you need meal inspiration, the app suggests daily healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. Unfortunately, there is no support for offline workouts.
Apple Fitness +
it’s for: Apple Watch users
the price: $10 per month or $80 per year
platforms: iOS, Apple Watch, Apple TV
The Apple platform features guided activities across 10 different disciplines, including cycling and Pilates. Many of the workouts, which can be streamed or downloaded, are beginner and low-impact; There are programs designed specifically for the elderly and pregnant people. Fitness+ requires users to own a Series 3 Apple Watch or later. Watch stats, such as heart rate and calories, appear on screen during workouts. On Monday, the app kicks off its guided, audio-visual outdoor running workouts, called Time to Run. New episodes will be delivered weekly, and downloaded to your paired Apple Watch.
Fitness+ is even better value when you share it: Anyone in your home on iCloud (up to six people) can use one subscription — but they all need an Apple Watch.
it’s for: People who want personalized coaching and accountability
the price: $149 per month
platforms: iOS and Apple Watch
Choosing an exercise, like choosing what you want to watch on NetflixAnd
It can be daunting. The future takes the guesswork out of formulating a training plan. First, you’re paired with a live personal trainer, with whom you’ll discuss your schedule, equipment, and goals over FaceTime. Then, each week your coach will send you a schedule with a custom set of exercises, and track your progress on your Apple Watch, which is required. (The company plans to expand to Android this year.)
Share your thoughts
What is your favorite digital fitness platform? Join the conversation below.
You can upload a video of your exercises to get feedback on your form. Traveling or need a rest day? Send a message to your coach through the app to adjust your exercises accordingly. The app’s primary feature is accountability: your coach may tell you if your Apple Watch stats indicate that you’re not sticking to the plan.
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