No gym? No problem. Just download an app and get moving.
Has COVID-19 affected your workout routine? Stuck at home or just staying away from the gym until everything has blown over? You can still get a great workout without having to step foot outside.
These apps are all fantastic alternatives when, for whatever reason, you just aren’t able to hit the weights or treadmill like usual.
Platforms: Android, iOS, Fire TV, Fire Tablet
Peloton launched their Fire TV and Fire Tablet app recently, but the app has been around for iOS and Android devices for a while now. While Peloton’s cycle and treadmill are obviously the first things that come to mind when the brand is mentioned, you don’t need to use their hardware (or any hardware) to get a solid workout.
In addition to bike and treadmill, there are also cardio, HIIT, bootcamp, and yoga workouts. With a few seconds of searching, you can easily find a workout to fit your fitness level. In addition to the pre-recorded content, you can also drop in on live sessions.
There are literally thousands of classes to choose from, so you may find yourself scrolling endlessly if there isn’t a live session to drop into. My advice? Drop into the app with something in mind (like an intermediate arm strength workout) and just pick the first class that meets those parameters.
The instructors are all great, and other than Peloton’s patented shoutouts to participating virtual members (which is a little distracting during something like yoga), there’s little to no pressure to get more equipment. That’s a refreshing change from other on-demand fitness companies like Beachbody that always seem to be selling something.
The subscription is $12.99 per month after your free 30-day trial, but it’s on par with similar on-demand fitness solutions like Beachbody. There are also several additional features you get when you download the app to a mobile device, including guided outdoor runs.
Platforms: Android, iOS, Fire TV
Beachbody on Demand offers a wide variety of pre-recorded programs for a vast multitude of fitness styles and performance levels. While it made its name with month-long high-intensity workout classes like P90X, Beachbody has added lower-intensity workouts like yoga and line dancing-based programs.
I was introduced to Beachbody a few years ago when I was looking cross-training programs to supplement my marathon training. Trainer Autumn Calbrese had just begun her meteoric rise with “21 Day Fix” that combines high and low intensity moves, as well as body weight and handheld weights for a full body workout. I was highly doubtful at first. But at the end of the first week, I nearly wept upon seeing the seventh session for the week was stretching instead of another workout.
If you can trust yourself to stick to a long-term program, Beachbody has a multitude of similar programs. It also offers nutrition tips (with a healthy dose of salesmanship as they try to get you to buy their own supplements). While I could do without the hawking of branded shakes and equipment, I can’t deny that I got more out of Beachbody than I ever expected to from an app-based workout.
Workouts vary in length, from 10 minutes to an hour or more and can be saved to your device if you’re offline. The iOS version of the app even supports 3D Touch so that you can jump right to your last workout session. It’s a nice feature that I wish more app developers would include. It does, however, require a subscription, either $14.99 per month or $99 annually.
Platforms: iOS, Android
Down Dog has the biggest fitness surprise to hit my phone in the past six months. This yoga app eliminates the mental fatigue you get from pre-recorded routines by offering workouts that are put together on the fly based on your time restraints, level of expertise, workout intention, and more.
The routines are fresh each time, with music that changes from session-to-session. While it can be a little inconvenient to keep your phone in view during a session (especially when your cat decides to try and attack the instructor on the screen), if you’re comfortable with basic yoga moves, it’s easy enough to follow along with the audio guidance.
Down Dog also introduced four new apps in January, Yoga for Beginners, HIIT, 7 Minute Workout, and Barre, each one focusing on…well…look at the app titles to guess. They all use the same kind of random exercise generators as the original Down Dog app to keep you engaged (and hopefully working out more often).
Down Dog requires an annual $19.99 subscription (a fantastic bargain), but the additional apps are currently completely free in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They posted this statement on their website this week.
“Due to the current outbreak, many people are avoiding gathering in large groups, including at yoga studios and other fitness spaces. We believe that stressful times like these are precisely when people need wellness practices the most, and we are committed to doing our part to help out.
So that anyone who wants to practice at home can do so, we are making all of our apps – Down Dog, Yoga for Beginners, HIIT, Barre, and 7 Minute Workout – completely free until April 1st.”
Platforms: iOS, Android
While you’re working out your body, you might need to give your mind some extra attention as well. Managing stress is crucial to staying healthy, as is learning how to work through anxiety. Headspace can help with that.
Headspace is a meditation app that provides a staggering amount of specialized sessions for everything from learning how to meditate, to dealing with anxiety and stress, to sports training (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). It’s built on the idea that we can improve our mental health with just 10 minutes of daily training.
If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. When, if ever, do you have more than a couple of seconds throughout the day when you’re not bombarding yourself with some sort of sensory input? Taking 10 minutes to unplug and focus on what your mind and body are actually doing and feeling can provide a tremendous amount of insight.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, Headspace has a Sleep portion of the app that has everything from guided sleep meditations to 8-hour “Sleep radio” streams. Sleep meditations are all randomized, eliminating the alertness that comes with anticipation. They help ease you into better slumber.
If you’re looking to improve your physical fitness as well as your mental fitness, Headspace just introduced Move Mode, meant to help you strengthen your mind while you’re strengthening your body. It features 28-day courses that guide you through quick workouts, mindful cardio runs, and rest day meditations.
Another recent addition is The Wake Up – a daily guided meditation and mindfulness session that uses informative videos focusing on five key elements of living more mindfully: meditation, sleeping, moving, eating and playing. The videos themselves are three- to five-minutes each and are refreshed daily.
An annual subscription is now only $69.99. While it may be pricey, I’ve found Headspace has returned my investment tenfold. If you only get one app on this list, it should be this one.