Staying mentally and physically healthy during lockdowns is more important than ever. While the gyms have shut their doors (for now!), finding ways to keep your fitness on track while you’re at home is a priority. Luckily, there’s an app for that… or rather thousands.
Towards the start of last year, health and fitness app downloads grew by 46% worldwide. It’s no great surprise. The leading workout apps offer many the same things that gyms do; social interaction, guided fitness sessions and a little routine.
Of course, if the government’s road map goes to plan, gyms and indoor leisure facilities will reopen on 12th April. However, if you need a little fitness pick-me-up in the meantime, finding the right workout app for you is the way to go. Never fear! We’ve taken a look at some of the most effective and engaging options. Here’s what you should know.
HIIT Workout at Home
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts aren’t only an effective way to stay fit. Research from the University of Turku suggests that these powerful routines also boost the endorphin release in your brain. Often referred to as ‘happy hormones’, endorphins could improve your mood and boost your motivation to keep working out. It’s a win-win!
Best HIIT Workout Apps
If you’ve ever done a HIIT session in a gym, you will know that instructors tend to use a load of equipment. However, you can do these types of workout at home with whatever you happen to have available. Let’s take a look at some of the best HIIT workout apps.
Boasting thousands of free workout routines, Workout Trainer helps you increase your fitness, no matter where you are. The workouts are designed by certified personal trainers, which means that you get expert advice at your fingertips.
To get started, you can choose your fitness and ability level. Then it’s simply a case of choosing the step-by-step audio or video guide for you. If you have an Apple Watch or Bluetooth LE Heart Rate Monitor, you can connect it to your phone and monitor your stats!
Hoping to kick your HIIT sessions up a gear? The app also has a 1:1 Online Personal Training service, which allows you to hire a coach. That means that you will get access to sessions tailored to your needs, personalised goals, and support from an online trainer.
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Imagine bringing a HIIT (and other) classes to your living room! That’s what FiiT is all about. Subscribing to this virtual fitness regime is an alternative to a gym membership. When you have the app, you can take part in live classes online in real-time.
Each 25 or 40-minute class is run by a different expert trainer and there’s quite a lineup. Coaches include Charlotte Holmes, Richie Norton, Steph Elswood, Tyronne Brennand, Cat Meffan, Chris Magee, Jaime Ray and Lottie Murphy among others.
If you’ve got a competitive streak, you can also take part in a virtual competition. To make it onto the leaderboard, you will need to connect with a compatible device including an Apple Watch, a FiiT device, a Garmin HR Monitor and a MyZone. Compete against your friends and other class members online. Will you make it to the top spot?
Price: £20/month with a 14-day free trial
Yoga at Home
Have you been toying with the idea of taking up yoga? Perhaps you’re already a fully-fledged yogi. Regardless of your skill level, you can continue your practice in the comfort of your own home. Ideally, you need a yoga mat and the correct gear. However, if you don’t have it, you can always use a comfortable mat and loose-fitting clothes.
Best Yoga Apps
Ready to bring the yoga session to your home? It couldn’t be easier. Whatever style of yoga you prefer to practice, there’s an app with a training program for you. Here’s a quick look at two of the best yoga apps you can get right now.
Access 3000 yoga classes and 500 meditation classes from some of the best teachers around the world. YogaGlo is the answer! With this subscription, you can choose the style of yoga you want to practice, your skill level, and your goals.
After you’ve signed up and answered some initial questions, you get suggested classes and routines. You can also search for classes in-app and save your favourites and create collections to return to later. There are also scheduled classes you can join in real-time.
Price: $18/month (around £15/month) with a 15-day free trial
Featuring more than a hundred workouts from yoga and fitness experts, Asana Rebel is your one-stop-shop for virtual sessions. To get started with this app, you will need to answer questions about yourself, your diet, and your fitness-centric goals. After that, the app designs a personalised workout regime that suits your exercise style and targets.
The yoga-inspired programs come in a variety of forms. Whether you have five minutes to spare or half an hour, there will be a class that you can take. What’s more, there are also daily challenges, fun quizzes, and community extras that will keep you motivated!
Price: £58.99/year or £37.99/quarter
Best Running Apps
It hardly takes a genius to realise that running is a great form of exercise, but it’s also great for your mental health! Research from the University of Montreal suggests that this type of exercise can improve your mood and boost motivation. The reason is that this workout releases endorphins and boosts your dopamine levels, which leads to a positive mood.
While you may be practising ‘social distancing’ during the current outbreak, getting outside to exercise is a mentally and physically healthy move. You can still avoid close contact with other people by giving them space. Let’s take a look at the best running apps to try.
Whether you’re starting your running journey or a veteran runner, it’s worth giving Runtastic from Adidas a whirl. The subscription-based app has everything you need to create a smart running regime and compete with people online.
When you’ve signed up, you get access to a voice coach (i.e. audio tracks) that will talk you through even the most gruelling of workouts. The live tracking feature means that your friends and contacts can see where you are whenever you head out and cheer you on.
If that’s not enough to keep you motivated, you might want to try the targeted challenges instead. You can also set personal goals to keep you working hard. The app has its own GPS, but it’s also compatible with Garmin Connect, Polar Flow and Google Fit devices.
Nike Run Club
Including GPS tracking and audio running guides, the Nike Run Club is one of the best workout apps out there. Guided runs are hosted by expert trainers as well as special celebrity guests, such as Mo Farah and Kevin Hart. When you’re training, you can also connect Apple Music or Spotify to play through the app to keep you pushing forward.
Once you’ve joined the Nike Run Club community, you will be privy to regular challenges. For example, you might want to compete to go the furthest distance in a week or earn the most achievements in a month. Compare your progress with friends on the leaderboard!
Best Mixed Fitness Apps
Do you like to mix it up when it comes to your fitness? Variety is the spice of life. When it comes to your workouts, including a range of regimes is a savvy way to cover all bases. Harvard Health suggests that there are four crucial types of exercise if you want to keep active—strengthening, stretching, balance, and aerobics. If you want a workout app that does all of the above (and more!), check out these handy options.
If you have an Apple Watch, here’s an app tailored for you. Apple Fitness+ is a newly launched workout platform using your personal metrics and music from your favourite artists to inspire your next session. Activity options include dance, yoga, cycling, rowing, core, strength, HIIT, and more. Simply flick through the options and find a video tutorial that suits your fitness goals. There are fresh ones added every single week.
Searching for your next session is easy. Select the duration, your favourite trainer, and the type of music you fancy. The app will immediately show you your options so you can get started fast. As if that weren’t enough, the app has big name London trainers including Kim Ngo for its HIIT sessions and Jessica Skye leading yoga workouts. Available on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad, there’s so much to love here.
Price: £9.99/month or £79.99/ year with a month’s free trial
Nike Training Club
Towards the start of the pandemic, the people at Nike made their official training app temporarily free. The company has since announced that Nike Training Club will remain free all year around. Packed with a variety of training plans (typically four-to-six weeks long each), the workout app is an ideal way to boost your fitness and get some routine. Pick from a selection of workout styles including lean fit, bodyweight only, yoga, strength training, and cardio sessions, depending on what you want to achieve.
Aside from loads of specialist trainer-led sessions and programmes, the app also has you covered with nutrition and wellness advice. Take a moment to browse the handy blog posts and recipes between getting your sweat on. You can also track your activities, share your progress with the active community, and collect achievements as you go.
Price: Currently free
Best Mindfulness Apps
Looking after your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. During this time of uncertainty, tending to your mind is an absolute must. Research from the University of Utah suggests that mindfulness can help better both your physical and emotional well-being. So, how can you get started? Here are two apps to try.
Calm is your relaxation companion app. Showcasing meditation classes, sleep stories, blissful music and so much more, the app offers a rainbow-array of ways to unwind. With the basic membership, you get access to some of the best tracks to get started. However, if you like the app once you’ve tried it, it could be worth upgrading to a premium plan.
No matter how long you have to spare, you can always squeeze in a moment to yourself with this app. It includes guided meditations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes. Plus, you can choose from topics such as ‘gratitude’ or ‘forgiveness’ to suit your goals.
Price: Free Basic, or $69.99/year (around £60/year) Premium
If you’re completely new to the world of mindfulness, Headspace is a great place to start. You get a two-week free trial of guided meditations and then you can pay the annual subscription to get access to the entire library. There are new audio tracks added on a daily basis, which means you’ll never get bored of the same routines.
Should you have trouble nodding off into a deep slumber, the Headspace app can help with that too. When you’ve got the premium version of the app, you will have access to cool sleep sounds and guided bedtime exercises to help you relax and unwind.
Price: £49.99/year with a two-week free trial
Staying ultra-healthy when you’re spending more time at home is a major priority and it doesn’t have to be hard. Now that there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel, use this opportunity to boost your fitness and stay on track. Giving some of these excellent home workout apps a whirl will help you do just that. Grab your phone and get moving!