The Best Workout Apps to Try While Gyms Are Closed, According to Fitness Experts
Clearly, no one is going to the gym anytime soon. National social-distancing guidelines are now in effect at least through April 30 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, and gyms and yoga studios are closed. But that doesn't mean you can't still get a good workout in.
Fortunately, the internet is filled with a variety of streaming exercise classes and workout apps that should help you burn off nervous energy and the after-effects of perfectly understandable stress snacking. There are workout apps for all fitness levels and interests, whether you're looking for cardio, yoga or high-intensity interval training, all led by encouraging instructors who will hopefully make you miss your normal fitness classes a bit less.
It's easier than ever to try a workout app for free too. Some of the most popular workout apps have extended their free trials amid the coronavirus crisis, and people stuck at home have responded by signing up in rising numbers. Peloton, the trendy stationary bike and fitness class streaming service, recently increased the free-trial period for its app from 30 days to 90 days, and it's reportedly seen downloads soar by a factor of five.
The yoga app Down Dog announced in mid-March that it was making many of its workouts free until April 1, and it has since extended the free period through May 1. The Daily Burn app, which features thousands of workout videos (yoga, Pilates, cardio, high intensity training, and more), normally offers a 30-day free trial, but you can try it out for free for 60 days right now. Jetsweat, which offers unlimited videos of classes from boutique fitness studios, normally offers a 7-day free trial before you're charged $20 a month, but at the moment you can take advantage of a 30-day free trial (use the code SWEATATHOME when signing up) or 50% off the annual price (code 50ATHOME). You can also try out the Fitbit Premium app for free for 90 days right now.
Best Workout Apps: Free Trial Offers
• Daily Burn: free trial extended from 30 days to 60 days
• Down Dog: free until May 1
• FitBit Premium: free trial for 90 days
• Jetsweat: free trial extended from 7 days to 30 days
• Peloton: free trial extended from 30 days to 90 days
• Nike Training Club: premium subscription is free indefinitely
Now, which workout app is best for you? It's the perfect time to try out a fitness streaming service and see if you like it. You're probably home more than ever, so you have the time for it. And thanks to extended free trials available from Peloton and others, the financial part of the decision is removed for the time being.
Just remember to cancel your subscription before the free trial ends if you ultimately decide a workout app is not for you. And speaking of subscriptions, if your gym is closed, there are strategies to get a refund for your membership.
To help you figure out which workout app to try first, we asked a range of personal trainers and health experts to name their favorites. Here are some of their top recommendations.
• $14.99 per month or $99 per year after 7-day free trial
Aaptiv offers a variety of fitness classes, from yoga to strength training. Boston-based fitness instructor Katie Wason loves it mainly for treadmill and outdoor runs.
"The difference it makes in my workout is incredible. I've been a runner for 20-plus years now, done hundreds of races and three marathons. I always thought I was going to be a 10-minute mile girl forever; maybe creeping towards nine-minute mile on a good day. Aaptiv had me doing hill runs, tempo runs and interval runs; game changer," she says. "Not only did I have a variety of workouts to push me, but I also had someone there with me, or so it felt like, every step of the way."
• $12.99 per month after 30-day free trial
Even fitness instructors admit that when life gets difficult, finding time to workout isn't always easy. Brittany Kintzel is an Arvada, Colorado-based Registered Yoga Teacher who specializes in restorative yoga and prenatal yoga. She recommends the service Bulldog Online, available for $12.99 a month after the first month free.
She originally found the service when "when I was going through postpartum depression after my second child was born. As a yoga teacher, part of my job is to inspire and uplift others," she says. "It’s amazing how just starting out with 15 minutes completely changed my outlook and really made a noticeable difference in my depression and anxiety."
While other services offer a wider range of classes, Kintzel prefers Bulldog Online because it's so focused on yoga. "Other apps that I tried in the past felt too overwhelming with hundreds of classes to choose from, it just seemed like too much. Bulldog Online definitely has a ton of variety, but the variety doesn’t feel overwhelming."
• From $4.99 per month after 30-day free trial
We all need to multitask these days. So if you're looking for an exercise class, but you also want some new bops to keep you motivated, then Sacramento-based exercise instructor Pam Sherman recommends FitRadio, which pairs curated playlists with a variety of classes, starting at $4.99 per month.
"I love FitRadio so much and recommend it to my clients, friends, anyone I can. It has amazing music, coaching for outdoor runs, treadmill runs, rowing, biking, walking as well as strength training workouts, ab workouts, yoga and stretching," she says. "Oh, and for runners, it has a Garmin feature to know your minute-mile pace and distance."
Fitbit Coach or Fitbit Premium
• $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year after 90-day free trial
If you've ever seen a personal trainer, you've probably been told that you can't out-exercise a bad diet. That's why Jamie Hickey, a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, nutritionist and founder of the fitness resource Truism Fitness, recommends a combination of Fitbit coach and MyFitnesspal.
"What differentiates this exercise app from the others is how it tracks you through your Fitbit and gradually increases the intensity as you get faster and stronger. The two apps sync together, so you can have a fitness trainer in your pocket while you track your caloric intake on a daily basis," he says. "Myfitness pal manages your dietary habits by logging and reporting your features and its vast database of foods is very helpful when putting a nutrition plan together. The Fitbit Coach recommends workouts tailored to your past workouts and daily activity, plus most of the workouts don’t need any equipment."
When it comes to meeting your fitness goals, consistency is key, and it's better to do a shortish round of exercise as often as possible (daily is best) than a longer workout more sporadically, according to experts. Nicole Zapoli is a San Diego-based certified personal trainer, and has been a professional cheerleader for the Houston Texans and Houston Rockets. She likes the Hylete Daily Circuit app, which offers free circuit workouts, for its ability to keep exercisers on track.
“This app is packed full with super effective workouts that you can do from home or wherever you are training, within just 30-45 minutes," she says. "Each circuit provides a full demo, coaching tutorial and trainer's tip to give you the coaching support and resources you need to maximize the benefits."
• Free indefinitely
When you're training to reach a fitness goal, knowing the right moves is only half the battle. That is why Jon Knopke, founder and trainer at the Los Angeles-based Health House, loves the Nike Training Club app, which he calls "hand down the best exercise app. No matter what your goals are, you can accomplish them with Nike Training Club’s platform," he says. "The app provides you with every accountability tool you need to ensure you not only stay on track, but also achieve your goals in a timely manner."
The Nike Training Club app's premium service normally costs $14.99 per month, but it's free for everyone indefinitely.
• From $9.99 per month after 14-day free trial
Alice Holland, a doctor at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Oregon, recommends the Auckland, New Zealand-service Les Mills app. "It is a very affordable way to exercise — my subscription costs $13 a month. There are certain exercises that use only a mat and a pair of athletic shoes, and some other exercises that need plates, hand weights and an aerobic step riser," she says. "Their workouts range from Barre, to weight lifting, to intense cardio, to exercise biking, to step aerobics, dance, yoga and meditation. I'm a big fan."
• $19.99 per month after 30-day free trial
There's always a fine line between finding an exercise that works for you, and doing the same thing over and over until you get bored. If you're the type who gets bored with a routine quickly, New York-based yoga instructor Carlyn Shear, who's been teaching for five years at Y7 Studio, recommends Jetsweat.
"They offer incredibly high-quality workout videos from some of the country's best boutique fitness studios, all under one membership. There are tons of options from yoga to pilates to boxing to strength training – something for everyone no matter your mood or fitness level," she says. "It never gets repetitive and you can also follow their curated fitness programs or create a calendar of classes for yourself."
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