Like a fitness nut trying to develop a new bodyweight exercise, Covid-19 keeps coming up with new variants. While that might mean you’re keen to stay home, it’s no excuse for your abs to go into hiding. Here’s our guide to the best fitness apps around.
Pining for your weekly HIIT class? Quit eating your pity and readjust your routine: it’s never been easier to stay fit, healthy and strong without leaving your front door.
Whether you roll out a yoga mat for sun salutations in the sitting room or try to tackle a callisthenics circuit in the kitchen, each of the apps below will help you to keep fit, healthy and happy at home.
Cheaper than any gym membership, these workout companions should also ensure you’re in fine form when the pandemic eventually ends – and keep you sane until it does. So put down that panic-bought packet of shortbread biscuits, grab your smartphone and prepare to get sweaty.
Best for the personally trained: Fiit
Distancing from your personal trainer? Download Fiit and they might be out of a job for good: a PT in your pocket, Fiit puts an arsenal of on-demand fitness classes right on your smartphone – each led by a real trainer.
Choose between high-intensity workouts for burning fat, bodyweight exercises for gaining strength or stretching for enhanced flexibility, before aiming to beat your PB or top the live global leaderboards.
Each class lasts for 25 or 40 minutes and, paired with a compatible fitness tracker or the official Fiit device (£45), you’ll see heart rate, calorie burn and rep data on screen throughout. The option to connect to your TV means you can get the full home gym experience, too.
Monthly membership unlocks hundreds of workouts and 15 training plans tailored to suit your aims and abilities – which, at £20 a month, costs much less than Keep Fit Kevin.
Best for Hoys at home: Zwift
Between icy roads and frozen toes, winter weather is a bigger threat to cyclists than any viral infection. Keen to keep your steed inside until spring? While Strava is a winner for the open road, Zwift changes the game for static cycling.
Forget target times and repetitive cadences: Zwift gets you to chase your goals through gamification. Tackle more than 80 routes across six virtual realms, competing against fellow domestic pedallers as you follow expert training plans. Cross deserts, climb volcanoes and spin through central London, exploring animated worlds without travel restrictions as your thighs take the strain.
Zwift plays nice with a whole host of turbo trainers, as well as countless indoor bikes and standalone cadence sensors. Simply sign up, pair up and get pedalling: all of your data will be channelled into the app, ready for competition and analysis. Whether you still wear lycra is up to you.
Best for quick quitters: Streaks Workout
Lewis Hamilton. Manchester City in 2017. The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. All proof that unbeaten streaks are for winners. Which is why you should try Streaks if you want to win at fitness.
The goal is simple: do a bodyweight workout every day, with whatever free time you have. Simply pick how long you’ve got and Streaks will generate a workout to suit your schedule, drawing from a bank of exercises to create a session that lasts for six, 12, 18 or 30 minutes. What do you win for continuing the streak? Fitness, that’s what.
Serial quitter? Streaks leaves you no excuses. Because they don’t require equipment, you can do the routines anywhere. Not a fan of certain exercises? Disable them and the app won’t include them in future workouts. Targeting certain muscles? Streaks makes it a cinch to build a custom circuit fit for a champion. Day one is today.
Best for mischevious munchers: 8fit
Nailing 50 sit-ups every morning might work your core, but comfort eating your way through winter will quickly cover any sign of abs. 8fit fights your snacking habit by serving up nutrition advice, meal plans and flab-free shopping lists alongside its exercise suggestions.
Set your wellness goal, fitness level and dietary requirements (whether veggie, vegan or paleo) and 8fit will create a total lifestyle strategy to get you living your best life, including personalised workouts and bespoke meal plans – with recipes, too.
Throw in fat-fighting exercises with video demonstrations and you’ve got a properly healthy solution to food and fitness. Put down that gingerbread man.
Best for yoga lovers: Pocket Yoga
Pandemic unpredictability left your chakras out of wack? Put Pocket Yoga on your phone and you’ll be stretching and swaying your way to a healthier soul in seconds.
With 27 sessions of varying difficulty, even first-time plankers ought to be OK, while a dictionary of poses will put paid to any downward dog confusion.
Voice instructions mean you can keep your focus without looking down, too, so you can visualise your happy place in peace.
Best for pavement pounders: Runkeeper
Whatever’s going on in the world, nothing clears the head quite like a brisk run around the park. And whether you push for a quick PB or go for a longer gentle jog, Runkeeper will log it all – from splits and stats to route and distance. It’s undoubtedly be one of the best fitness apps around.
Not keen on winter sprinting? You form needn’t falter: Runkeeper also offers a stopwatch mode for indoor sessions. Hook up a pair of headphones and you’ll get periodic audio feedback, while connecting a heart rate monitor means the app can track your ticker.
No tech? No trouble: you can manually input the data from your treadmill once you’re done.
Best for good listeners: Auro
Like the idea of a PT but loathe the idea of close personal contact? Get motivation in isolation with Auro – an audio-based fitness companion that puts the inspiring sounds of world class trainers right in your ears.
Home to hundreds of workouts and training plans, there’s voice guidance for all sorts of disciplines and equipment – from 5K outdoor sprints to HIIT cardio to fat shredding treadmill sessions – as well as curated playlists to spur you on. Simply pick your goal and prepare to listen. And, you know, exercise.
Pair up with a wearable for added stats and live heart rate data while you train, before going up against your friends in the Auro leagues. Luckily, you don’t have to hear from them.
Best for busy bees: Seven
Leave the viral excuses on the living room floor: Seven squeezes your daily dose of sweating into just 420 seconds, no gym necessary.
Every exercise is bodyweight-only and can be done at home or – once you’re on the go again – in a hotel room. There are simple animations to show you the ropes, while premium members gain access to a catalogue of additional targeted workouts.
A session a day for seven months is the aim, with an array of awards to encourage your continue commitment – in case the ripped physique in the mirror isn’t enough.
Best for sweaty subscribers: Peloton
Can’t decide on your favourite form of exercise? No need: like the Netflix of fitness, a Peloton subscription gives you access to a vast library of video classes for all manner of disciplines. Think running, cycling, strength training, HIIT, yoga, meditation and more.
Top-notch instructors lead both on-demand workouts and live sessions, motivating you to your goals with inspirational know-how and, more importantly, sick beats.
Join a programme for structured progress, share your results with Peloton pals and sign up for challenges to boss your goals. There’s support for fitness trackers, too, and you can always drop in on different workouts if you’re in the mood for some binge sweating.
Addicted to spin? Join the hundreds of thousands who’ve shelled out for a dedicated Peloton Bike, complete with integrated for display for following live workouts.
Best for weight watchers: MyFitnessPal
Already doing your best to banish the pounds gained during lockdown? Give your pandemic dieting a boost with MyFitnessPal, a calorie-counting companion that combines food-logging with exercise data from your fitness tracker (including Fitbit and Garmin devices) to provide an all-in-one answer to waistline control.
With a database of more than one million meals – as well as the option to scan barcodes and add your own – it’s a cinch to stick in those cheat days.
Best for slow movers: Fitbit
When your new commute only takes you from bed to sofa, it’s harder than ever to hit those step counts. For movement motivation within your humble abode, stick Fitbit’s straightforward tracking app on your smartphone.
With or without a wearable, it’ll keep a tally of your daily pacing and activity data, while social challenges mean you can compete with confined pals from afar. Soon you’ll be wearing circles in the carpet as you try to out-step your friends, wondering why you ever questioned your dog for doing the same.
Best for gym bunnies: Jefit
Used the festive holidays to finally finish building your home gym? Once you’ve assembled the squat rack and unboxed the kettle bells, stick Jefit on your smartphone, head to the shed and prepare to get swole.
A workout planner with a bank of more than 1300 weight training exercises, Jefit lets you fine tune and track your lifting efforts. There are video instructions too, so you won’t be left confounded by the cable and pulley.
Select from scores of fitness plans or create your own routines to suit your goals, then log your progress as you huff, puff and grunt towards a more muscular physique.
Best for wholesome health nuts: Asana Rebel
A healthy lifestyle is about more than just smashing out 50 burpees three times a week. Though that certainly helps.
Asana Rebel embraces a more homogenous approach to health and fitness, building a bespoke daily plan based on your characteristics, preferences and goals. That means sleeping well, working smart and drinking more water, as well as getting plenty of exercise.
Besides video workouts, the app will also support you every day with mini meditations, health suggestions and even reminders to smile. The whole thing is so wholesome that, if it weren’t for fear of being pinged, the app you would probably give you a hug.
Best for fitness novices: Sworkit
Never been near a gym? Don’t know your way around a kettlebell? Only have 15 minutes for fitness? Good news: if you find the usual crop of workout apps intimidating, confusing or overwhelming, Sworkit is a stellar place to start.
Designed to work around your lifestyle, Sworkit’s algorithm creates exercise plans to suit your fitness level and desired results, as well as the time and equipment you have to hand – whether you want a quick lunchtime stretch in your home office or a hardcore dumbbell session in the shed.
Every exercise is demonstrated by a video animation – ideal for first-time sweaters – while the option to create custom routines, skip your least favourite exercises and track your progress means you can build a home fitness regime that really works for you. And if you feel like you need some extra assistance, you can upgrade to premium for full guidance and one-on-one support from certified trainers.
Best for secret athletes: Freeletics
There’s no escaping it: Freeletics is seriously intense. Unless you’re a semi-professional athlete, there’s a good chance you’ll spend the first session wheezing, moaning and groaning, before collapsing on the floor for a good cry.
If you want proper front-cover abs without ever stepping into a gym, though, Freeletics is the answer. For free, you’ll get a heap of bodyweight exercises that’ll work your body and core like never before, while the paid coach gets you an advanced machine-learning system that provides bespoke training, goals and advice – whether you’re in the market for weight loss, strength gain or serious fitness.
Limited yardage in your pad? Most exercises can be done on the spot with zero equipment – and the app will offer an at-home alternative when they can’t.
Best for sidetracked sweaters: Aaptiv
Finishing a workout is hard enough without the temptation to check the latest pandemic update every 30 seconds. Banish your smartphone screen’s seductive powers and take a break from depressing news with Aaptiv’s audio workouts.
Simply pick your fitness goal, select a trainer, stick your headphones on and get sweaty: with nothing on the display to distract you, you’re free to focus on your fitness.
Much more than an encouraging voice in your ear, the app offers hundreds of workouts guided by expert trainers – from yoga to running to crunches – alongside goal-specific programmes and group challenges. Aaptiv even handles the playlist, so there’s no excuse for stopping to ‘mix up the beats’.
Best for time-poor reformers: 30 Day Fitness Challenge
Can’t find time to get sweaty every day? 30 Day Fitness Challenge begs to differ: whether you’re a city slicker working from home or a key worker hurrying to hospital, the app will nudge you to squeeze in a brief but meaningful workout every single day. Unless it’s a rest day.
Select one of the three difficulty levels, choose what you’d like to target – arms, legs, bum, abs or whole body – and the app will give you a 30-day plan to get you on the workout wagon. Intensity increases along the way, but you’re so busy you probably won’t notice.
Best for sarcastic roasters: Carrot Fit
“Hi, chubby human.” So begins your relationship with CARROT: a sadistic robo-trainer whose approach to motivation is a heady mix of ridicule and scathing sarcasm.
As rotund animations bounce around on screen, you’re expected to survive the ‘7 minutes in Hell’ workout in order to “science your lazy carcass into a form more consistent with what celebrity magazines say you should look like”.
Glutton for punishment? As the savage AI has insults you into shape, she can also judge your calorie intake in CARROT Hunger.
Best for fans of famous faces: Fitplan
Inviting a celebrity into your home is the last thing you should do during a pandemic. Who knows what parties they’ve been to. Luckily, Fitplan lets your favourite trainers, athletes and fitness stars pay a virtual visit to your gaff.
More than 40 famous faces – from Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte to celebrity trainer Melissa Alcantara to Instagram star Jen Selter – are on hand to deliver 100 targeted workout programmes on demand, ranging from HIIT cardio to functional training. Whether you want to slim down, bulk up or just get fitter, there’s a programme for you – including more than 25 you can do from the comfort of your home.
New workouts arrive every month, while a built-in calendar, progress tracker and rest timer take the faff out of transforming your fitness. Give it a few years and you, too, could be an Insta-famous instructor.
Best for heavy lifters: Strong
Remember how your pal used to come and count reps for you? Alas, since discovering the art of sourdough, he’s given up on your garage gym and gone off to Paris to become a full-time pastry chef. Which means you’ve got to knead your own sets into shape.
Don’t lose count because your bestie’s gone bonkers for bread. Let Strong rise to the challenge: with exercise instructions, warm-up calculators and rest time countdowns, it’s the ultimate weightlifting assistant.
It’ll even calculate your one rep max, log custom workouts and chart your progress. Turns out gluten-free was the way to go.