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Sweat without breaking bank: the best fitness apps to try at home right now

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Best fitness apps
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Working out is sort of like being kind to others: it makes us feel good and it’s good for us, but sometimes we just can’t bring ourselves to commit 100 percent. However, as the great Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, "What I learned is that we are always stronger than we know." Whether you’re hitting the gym or tackling at-home workouts, it’ll be worth the effort — and finding the best fitness apps could make all the difference.

A 2017 study published in The Lancet journal found that you need to exercise a minimum of 150 minutes per week to increase your longevity — that’s five half hour HIIT sessions or three really long leg days. But, depending on your situation, you may not have the time or money to spend at the gym.

The following is a list of the best fitness apps for at-home workouts. I’ve tried these ones out myself free of charge. Along with basic information about each, I’ve included a "sweat-o-meter" to give you a great mental image of how much exertion the workouts required (dry, glisten or shower) and a little bit about my experience testing them out.

These brought the heat without breaking bank. Without further ado, here are the best fitness apps for free at-home workouts (including free trials, since you may want to purchase them down the line).

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Best fitness apps for free at-home workouts

SWORKIT

Description: SWORKIT includes a range of guided video workouts from strength and cardio to yoga and stretching. Workouts range from 5 to 60 minutes. Premium is $79.99 yearly or $29.99 quarterly.

Available for: iOS devices and Android (Google Play)

Workout I tried: 15-minute full-body strength

Sweat-o-meter: Dry – Glisten

Experience: Even with the free option of the app (as opposed to the free trial of premium) there were a lot of workouts to choose from. The full body strength workout included lunges, push-ups, planks and hip raises, and there were some 30-second breaks mixed in. All in all, the guided videos were instructive, and I felt like I worked all of the muscle groups (although, if there was one group I would have wanted more exercises for, it would have been abs).

Best fitness apps for at home workouts

BBS

Description: The BBS app was created by celebrity trainer Simone De La Rue and is based on her high-intensity Body by Simone method rooted in dance. Workouts include cardio (HIIT or dance), upper and lower body and core. Premium costs $19.99 per month.

Available for: iOS devices

Workout I tried: 10-minute dance cardio

Sweat-o-meter: Glisten

Experience: As I reported earlier this month, you can test out the app for free, but you’re limited to 10-minute workouts by muscle group — you don’t have access to the live classes, personalized workouts and recipes from nutritionist Kelly LeVeque offered in the premium monthly subscription.

The dance cardio was MMA inspired, which included kicks, punches and fun dance moves I hadn’t done before (let’s just say I’m not the dancing type). Simone demonstrated 8-count sequences and added on throughout. For someone who isn’t much of a dancer, it was hard but undeniably fun. Like the ab workout I reviewed earlier this month, it was bookended by a warm-up and cool down.

best fitness apps for at home workouts

8fit

Description:  8fit  includes customized workout and meal plans, to help you reach goals you set on the app (ex. lose 3lbs in 2 months). You can choose how intense you want the plan to be based on how long you have to reach your goal. Premium is $71.99 annually or $35.99 quarterly.

Available for: iOS devices and Android

Workout I tried: 16-minute Tabata

Sweat-o-meter: Glisten – Shower

Experience: The Tabata class only included four different workouts — squats, military presses, jack knives and burpees — but each was repeated for eight 20-second-on, 10-second-off rounds. I underestimated how much that repetition would wear me out, and the class kicked my butt all the way through.

Best fitness apps for at home workouts

Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness

Description: Sweat was created by Instagram-famous trainer Kayla Itsines, and also featured trainers Sjana Elise Earp and Kelsey Wells. The app is centered around Kayla’s BBG Program and includes personalized programs from each instructor. The app costs $19.99 per month after a week-long free trial.

Available for: iOS devices and Android

Workout I tried: 300 rep challenge

Sweat-o-meter: Dry

Experience: This challenge included 10 reps of different bodyweight exercises (and 50 reps of jump ropes) to total 300. It seemed like something you would do if you didn’t have a ton of time to work out but still wanted to get your muscles moving. It’s not timed, and you have control over when you switch to the next set of reps. This was nice because I wasn’t racing to keep up with a workout, but at the same time, manually clicking over to the next workout wasn’t 100 percent ideal.

best fitness apps for at home workouts

Daily Ab Workout

Description: With the Daily Ab Workout app, what you see is what you get. You can choose between 5-minute, 8-minute or 10-minute guided video ab workouts (option 1, 2, 3, "random" or weighted). There’s no premium version. Note: There’s a Daily Workout App that compiles these ab workouts along with ones for arms, legs, butt, etc. I'd also give this one a try.

Available for: iOS devices and Android

Workout I tried: 10-minute workout #3

Sweat-o-meter: Dry – Glisten

Experience: Here’s something I probably shouldn’t admit: I’ve had this on my phone since before high school prom, and it's been one of the best fitness apps I've relied on since. Ab workout #3 really engaged my core, and there were barely any breaks in between each exercise. This is the reason I’m a big fan of the app — you go straight through 10 exercises, so you feel the burn.

Best fitness apps for at home workouts

Nike Training Club

Description: The Nike Training Club app has over 160 free workouts, and there's no premium option. You can browse based on muscle group, workout type or create your own plan.

Available for: iOS devices and Android

Workout I tried: 7-minute yoga

Sweat-o-meter: Dry

Experience: I wanted to try something different, and the 7-minute workout I picked was "Run Ready Yoga," meant for runners, with moves picked by Ellie Goulding. (Yes, the singer!) I felt stretched, refreshed and ready to get to my next workout — or rest of my day.

best fitness apps for at home workouts

Aaptiv

Description: Aaptiv has more than 2,500 audio-based fitness classes featuring a range of different music to fit your workout vibe. (Think of it as having a personal trainer in your ear.) Premium is $14.99 per month, $99.99 per year or a lifetime membership of $399.99.  

Available for: iOS devices and Android (Google Play)

Workout I tried: 33-minute advanced intermediate HIIT treadmill

Sweat-o-meter: Shower (and I mean, SHOWER)

Experience: I shamelessly saved the best for last. I signed up for the 30-day free trial, and the HIIT treadmill workout absolutely destroyed me (in a good way). My trainer, Meghan, was very clear about the workout instructions — four 8-minute sets of the following: 3-minute jog, two 1-minute sprints, 1-minute walk in between each — and she motivated me to stay with my stride when all I wanted to do was hop off the treadmill.

I loved that I felt like I had a coach with me the whole way through, and the music — I picked dance/electronic — really made all the difference. Just from that one workout, I was sore for the remainder of the week, but it was the best sore I’ve ever felt.

best fitness apps for at home workouts

So there you have it. Download the best fitness apps for free at-home workouts that’ll help you take hold of your health journey — or continue to kill the game. Like my Aaptiv trainer so kindly reminded me, "You run this workout, not the number on the treadmill."