The world of online fitness is so vast it can be intimidating. Which app or YouTube video will serve your personal fitness goals the best? Which has moves you can safely do on your own? What if you don’t have any weights or equipment? Which of these exercise gurus is actually legit?
In times when you can’t attend a gym or IRL workout class, digital fitness doesn’t have to be stressful.
“Not every workout has to be vigorous or an hour long to reap the benefits of exercise” Azul Corajoria, a Tier 3 personal trainer at Equinox, told Mashable. “Often times I tell my clients that the best workout is the one they’ll actually do. Even if that means it’s at home for 30 minutes, move your body. ”
The first step to staying active in close quarters is to let go of that decision paralysis. Recognize that whatever app you download or YouTube channel you throw on, you’ve already taken an impressive step toward caring for yourself in possibly abnormal circumstances. It doesn’t have to be perfect. No matter if you’ve chosen a cardio workout or a HIIT session, you’re getting your blood flowing, you’re juicing your endorphins, and you’re reminding your muscles what they can do. It’s just about finding what works for you. Deep breath in, deep breath out.
Now that we’ve made that choice a lot less terrifying, let’s delve in to the world of what’s actually out there. Here are some of the consistently best-reviewed and recommended at-home workout apps and YouTube channels.
Totally free, free trials, and premium offerings abound in the app store.
Overall pick: Nike Training Club
From trainers to Apple editors, the Nike Training Club app comes highly recommended. Its nice interface and variety of programs and trainers make it an an app store editor’s choice, too. Here’s what the app store editors have to say about it:
“Getting in shape can be a challenge, so making exercise fun and engaging is crucial to staying on the right track. This Nike fitness app features a polished collection of visual workouts, hosted by celebrity athletes like Serena Williams. It’s equally effective at home or at the gym. While each lesson can be taken on its own, Nike Training Club also features month-long structured programs that’ll help you achieve even better results.”
I usually work out in a gym, but this is the app I’ve downloaded for my home workouts. I like how easily searchable it is and how it has exercises that are long or short (some in 5 minutes!), some that use equipment and others that just use bodyweight, and collections like “Big workouts for small spaces” and “Boost your mood.”
Most importantly: this app is free. There are premium programs that put you on weeks-long routines, and give you “access to fitness & nutrition expertise from our Master Trainers.” But if you’re just dipping your toes into app-based fitness, the free version seems more than sufficient.
Live classes: Peloton Digital Membership
The masters of live workout classes just made it easier than ever to get in on the action. Peloton is extending its free 30-day trial of the Peloton app to 90 days to help people cope with staying at home.
If you’re in need of a supportive community and a way to clear your mind, we invite new users to try the Peloton App free for the next 90 days. Click here to get yoga, meditation, strength, stretching, and bodyweight training in your own home: https://t.co/LQ5G5Aeic8 pic.twitter.com/e6pS22yvn0
— Peloton (@onepeloton) March 16, 2020
For those of you wondering: no, you don’t need a Peloton bike to find the app useful. Peloton actually offers live workout classes in HIIT, yoga, running, strength, and other regimes that require no equipment at all. Peloton adherents love the live element, because it adds an urgency and communal element to something you’re doing on your own. Plus, Peloton is known for its beloved, inspiring instructors. Nothing like some motivation to get you moving.
Access to the app comes standard for people who own Peloton’s tread bike and subscribe to All Access Membership. If you don’t have a bike, a Peloton Digital Membership costs $12.99/month.
Aaptiv is an app for audio workouts, meaning your trainer is in your ear, not on a screen. This is a popular app for the gym since it has multiple treadmill and other cardio equipment-based workouts, but it’s useful at home, too, since it has strength training, HIIT, and yoga, and outdoor running if you want to venture outside. It’s known for its great playlists peppered with instructions and motivation from trainers. It also refreshes its content often, with 30 new workouts every 30 days. Not too shabby!
“Aaptiv packs great audio-only classes for all those workouts that just don’t make sense for video,” the app store editors say. “Smart design, great music, and a huge library of classes make even the most hardcore exercises enjoyable.”
Unfortunately, all that content doesn’t come free. Aaptiv has a 7 day free trial, and then charges $14.99/month or $99.99/year.
Body and Soul: Kait Hurley: Move + Meditate
Kait Hurley’s Move + Meditate program might not have a big name like Peloton or Nike, but her workouts that combine high intensity exercise with meditation could be the perfect fit if you’re looking for more than just a good sweat. You can just exercise, just meditate, or do an exercise session (like HIIT or running) that ends with a meditation. Hurley’s soothing encouragement might be just what you need to get you on the move and centered. You can try a 14 day free trial, and then it’s $19.99/month for a monthly subscription, or $119.99 for a year (which comes out to $9.99/month).
The best thing about fitness on youtube? It’s free-99, baby!
All-around: Fitness Blender
With nearly six million subscribers and , the husband and wife team that run Fitness Blender could be the virtual trainers you’re looking for. They have over 500 workouts of multiple lengths, and the titles specify whether you need equipment or not. There’s no music in these one-on-one trainings conducted in a white void. However, the explanations of the movements and the countdown timer are super visually clear and usually loud enough that you can play your own tunes through a speaker if you want. I recently chose Lizzo’s album and it was the perfect accompaniment to what turned out to be a VERY sweaty HIIT session.
Peppy Pilates: Cassey Ho/Blogilates
A name that kept coming up in my YouTube search was Cassey Ho’s blogilates. Maybe it’s just because “blogilates” is catchy, but multiple reviewers caused her beginner-friendly pilates-esque YouTube classes and burning bootcamp videos fun and encouraging, but super hard. Pilates is all about small targeted muscle and core strengthening — a great idea for anyone who wants to improve their health all around.
Celeb workouts: XHit Daily
This YouTube channel used to post daily fitness videos, but is not so active lately. However, a trove of celebrity-focused videos led by Instagram fitness influencers remains on the YouTube channel, which has over 3 million subscribers.
Dance and class fun: PopSugar Fitness
PopSugar has tons of workout class options, but some of the standout offerings are in their dance and cardio sections. Want to do Zumba in your home? No problem. How about hip hop or latin dance? You got it. Just because you’re cooped up inside doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
OTHER FUN STUFF
The New York Times’ “Scientific 7 minute workout”
The Times set the world ablaze when it claimed you could get a full workout in just 7 minutes of high intensity interval exercise. The workout is based on an article in a fitness journal that crafted 12 optimal moves into an extremely compact full body workout. You can guide yourself just by looking at this diagram, doing each move for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between. But if you want the ease of an app, that exists, too.
I recently strapped my Apple Watch back on after months of not wearing it. I’ll likely be working from home for the next couple weeks, and my beloved gym is closed, so I’m giving myself another tool and reminder to keep moving. My Apple Watch tells me to stand once an hour – a good reminder for my couch-bound self. Apple also suggests setting Activity Sharing or Activity Competitions with coworkers and friends so you can keep each other motivated from a distance.