We’ve come a long way since the days of VHS aerobics videos. Now you can install an app that is a personal trainer right on your phone, watch or smart TV. Today’s fitness services can motivate you and track your progress, show you how to train effectively and safely, and they cover every possible type of activity. Some go even further, including dance-inspired workouts as well as specially tailored workouts – for example, those for post-pregnancy or the safe and steady recovery from sports injuries.
Choosing the right fitness service for you
Choosing the right app comes down to two questions: what would you like to do and on what hardware would you like to do it? This hardware isn’t gym equipment – it’s the smartphone you have, along with accessories like smartwatches and smart TVs. For example, the Peloton app works on a range of TV platforms including Amazon’s Fire Stick and also has a smartwatch app; and Apple’s Fitness+ does some really smart stuff if you have an Apple Watch and Apple TV as well as an iPhone.
Below, we’ve looked at four top fitness services. Although they are all suitable for beginners as well as intermediate and expert users, they focus on different needs. For runners, there’s the awesome Nike Run Club, which offers tons of great features for free. For women and non-binary people, there’s Sweat, which offers more than traditional workouts. And for a complete workout, we have Apple Fitness+ and Peloton, both of which offer very polished experiences with excellent soundtracks and a wide range of activities.
They are all very good for users of all skill levels…and much cheaper than a gym membership. But there are significant differences between them in terms of the workouts they offer and the platforms they work on – what’s perfect for you may not be perfect for someone with a little different goals. .
If you’re an Apple user, you’ll love it Fitness+. It tightly integrates with your iPhone, Apple Watch, and Apple TV to deliver truly personalized workouts and coaching in every activity imaginable: not just traditional workouts and races, but also HIIT, yoga, and dance. . It’s £9.99/m for up to six users in a household (each has their own version so your family doesn’t mess up your stats), and the audio and video guides are super high quality. If you’re all about Apple, it tracks all sorts of things – including walking the dog and walking around the shops – and it works seamlessly with Apple’s Health app.
Nike Run Club
Nike Run Club is all about motivation. It uses gamification – with video game-style encouragement and rewards – and friendly challenges to keep you on the sidelines, and it’s very good at congratulating you on small wins as well as big milestones. You can share your accomplishments, which turns out to be a very effective way to get yourself off the couch and into your running shoes. It’s a neat and beautifully designed app with great visuals and music integration, and it’s ad-supported so you don’t have to pay a dime. It is a superb option for both urban and rural racing.
Platoon may be known for its extremely expensive stationary bikes, but you don’t need a Peloton Bike to use the app – and it’s not just about riding a bike either. Its video guides cover a wide range of fitness activities, including cycling, weight training, and running, but also boxing, yoga, and Pilates. Classes are both live and on-demand, so you can use them at times that suit you, and there’s a particularly great collection of guides covering recovery and mobility. In addition to apps for phones and tablets, Peloton also works on multiple TV platforms, including Apple, Google, Roku, and Amazon. The price is also surprisingly low: £12.99/m.
Sweat was designed for women and non-binary people; and while it covers all the main types of workouts, there are also programs you won’t find in many apps, such as post-pregnancy fitness and barbell-based workouts, which is a technique of low impact exercise that combines elements of ballet, yoga and Pilates. One of Sweat’s biggest selling points is that you can use it anywhere, even if you don’t have equipment handy: it’s packed with workouts that will really push your body no matter wherever you are, and the stunning Apple Watch means you don’t need to have your phone close at hand. It’s £14.99/month.
Does it matter if you have Android or iOS?
You’ll find a wide selection of fitness apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, but there are some omissions, including Apple Fitness+, which isn’t on Android. However, most consumer apps are cross-platform. While smartphone apps can import and use data from all sorts of sources, including smartwatches, there’s no Android/Google Wear equivalent of the tight integration between Fitness+ and Apple Watch.
Apple and Google both offer Family Sharing apps. Fitness+ automatically shares, so up to five other family members can use it with their own tracking and training, but most other fitness apps are for one person only. If you want to stream your workouts to the TV, Apple offers the best integration. It combines Apple TV, Apple Fitness+ and your Apple Watch to deliver a personalized workout on the big screen.