The best workout apps will save you time and (often) money, and many include social features that allow you to get some of the in-person benefits that you’d find at the gym. These apps vary in the quality and variety of instruction, but you might be surprised by the caliber of some free exercise apps—some feature top-notch fitness pros.
As a personal trainer, I’ve used some of these apps myself and have recommended them for clients and friends. Some apps sync with devices or equipment like heart rate monitors, fitness watches, or exercise bikes. Some offer live instruction along with a wide selection of on-demand classes. They often provide expert guidance on form and let you work out whenever you want, without having to schedule a class or wonder if the gym is open.
Before you sign up for a subscription for one of the many fitness apps available, consider your workout preferences. Do you like to kickbox or strength train? Do you want the option to do both with some yoga or pilates on recovery days? Your goals, lifestyle, and budget play a big role in the best workout app for you. We’ve rounded up our favorites below.
Best overall: Peloton App
First things first: You don’t need a Peloton bike or treadmill to use the Peloton app. Peloton offers different subscription levels to fit a range of budgets and fitness goals, including a free subscription that provides access to 50 classes.
You can get by on the free subscription if you don’t rely on the app for all of your workouts, and it will give you a good sense of what to expect from the paid tiers. But you can also take advantage of a 30-day trial period for the paid subscriptions to see how the app fits into your workout style. I personally don’t think you need to pay for more than the $12.99 per month subscription unless you’ve got a Peloton bike or treadmill, which requires a $44 per month, all-access subscription.
The Peloton app offers a wide range of exercise modalities, like rowing, strength training, kickboxing, and pilates. The quality of Peloton’s instructors sets them apart from other apps, and in some cases, can feel like a virtual personal trainer. Plus, the fitness coach app features training programs if you’d like to focus on a specific area for a few weeks. Peloton also offers an excellent selection of live leaderboards and social motivation that creates a sense of community for users.
Best free: Nike Training Club
The Nike Training Club (NTC) is the best free workout app, hands down. Nike removed the subscription fee during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they haven’t reinstated it. This app offers 190 free workouts in a wide range of modalities, from dance and pilates to bodyweight strength training and running warm-ups. It also includes pre-designed programs that run from one to six weeks, helping you build strength and endurance over time.
NTC also lets you easily build a customized workout. I love good filters because they minimize scrolling through an endless list of workouts. You can filter based upon:
- Available equipment
- Muscle group
- Workout focus
- Trainer-led classes
- Workout length
The app also includes a workout history so you can see your progress. Plus, it offers suggestions based on your past workouts and your preferences. Lasting fitness requires a planned approach, and NTC gives you that option.
While instruction isn’t as dynamic as the Peloton app, the classes are led by Nike Master Trainers and the app includes excellent tips on form to maximize your workout time. And you can’t beat the price.
Best for yoga: Asana Rebel
As a trainer and a yoga practitioner, I love Asana Rebel. I recommend it to anyone who prefers yoga as their main form of exercise.
When you sign up, you fill out a survey and the app tailors your options based on your preferences. Strong filter features help you find workouts by length, muscle group, experience level, and workout goals. Plus, there are meditations if you feel like you need something quieter than yoga. For the desk-bound, this app includes yoga for the office to give you a stretch and rejuvenation from your chair. But don’t let the ease of use fool you. Most yoga practitioners can find challenging workouts.
One of my favorite features is the add-on option at the end of each workout. You can start with a five-minute focus on flexibility and finish your session with a routine that targets the upper body, followed by some meditation. Plus, the app offers nutrition and meditation guidance, providing a holistic approach to physical and mental health.
Asana Rebel offers a yearly subscription that comes at around $6 per month. However, the subscription frequently goes on sale for 50 percent off, so you can snag yourself a good deal.
[Related: The best fitness trackers]
Best for weightlifting: Fitbod
Building muscle safely requires a plan, and the Fitbod app helps you develop a tailored regimen and record your progress for long-term success. The app guides you through a strength training plan, offering suggestions as you progress. You get three workouts for free before you have to pay for the $12.99-per-month subscription.
The app customizes exercises based on your fitness level and access to equipment. When you sign up, you put in your fitness level, goals, and add a checkmark next to the equipment available to you. If you’re limited to dumbbells and body weight, the app provides suggestions based on your answers. Fitbod can help you create workouts whether you have access to a full gym or not.
You can also create your own workout programs or customize suggestions made by the app. Selection starts with choosing a muscle group or two, and Fitbod provides suggestions that include circuits and supersets to give you options to choose from. The app also provides instructions for strength moves ranging from bench presses to mountain climbers. And instructors demonstrate proper form in included videos.
While this app may not be robust enough for pro lifters, Fitbod is an excellent choice for people designing their lifting programs on their own, as it combines instruction and a workout planner. Even those with more experience can use it as an exercise plan, tallying sessions and sets to monitor progress.