Winter’s finally passed, meaning there are fewer and fewer excuses for people to put off their 2018 exercise plans. Phones are becoming increasingly beneficial to newcomers and gurus alike, with new developments in fitness technology appearing by the day. It can be difficult, however, to root out the ill-informed, lazy, or cash-grabbing apps that mire the market—especially at a time where many people are looking for digital motivation to kickstart their fitness.
Luckily, you’ve found us... Together at the office, we’ve sat down, think about what to suggest you, except our best Treblab headphones, and came up with 5 of the best workout apps on the market. These cover a range of interests, but will be useful for anyone eager to get the most efficiency out of their routines. Even better news—they’re all free!
[Most of the following do offer some ‘pro’ paid-for mode; but don’t worry. They all have more-than-capable free modes]
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JeFit is possibly the most-comprehensive app on the market in terms of sheer knowledge. Ever wanted to learn the proper form for a stork stance using an exercise ball? Well, now you can answer almost any question you have with an easy interface, handy search functionality, and expert guidance.
Everything is modular. If you really love a specific set of leg exercises, you can then compile them into a leg routine. This is then saved, and you can apply it to whichever day(s) you wish to focus on that body area. If making your own routines is a bit daunting, have no fear; JeFit has a list of recommended ones, which we found no problems with.
For purely running and cycling however, there’s one key choice in our eyes: Strava. It must be said, their GPS tracking is second to none. Their maps are well-presented, in-motion controls intuitive, and overall the app is very well crafted for anyone to use, no matter their technological—or physical—ability.
The app isn’t geared towards newcomers, but you can turn Strava into a brilliant beginner’s app. Strava does the social-interaction aspects of your workout better than any other app we tested. On its surface, Strava offers a tactile running/cycling tracking interface. But what truly makes it special, and gives it a spot on our list, is the sheer amount of motivation you can glean from having a community. Find some like-minded friends, and you’ll be able to see how you’re all doing on a run-to-run basis. You’ll subconsciously start trying to best each other, improving rapidly.
Strava also offers regular challenges that are tailored to your history, and these provide an incredibly high level of achievement when beaten and surpassed. Sharing these successes to profiles like Facebook further heightens your motivation—providing your friends are as supportive as your newly formed running club is. ;)
One of these places where you can find such people, is Reddit. We know what you’re thinking. Reddit seems like an odd choice for a list of workout apps. But once you learn how to use it, the website/app can become a treasure trove of free information.
A group we recommend, especially if you’re after Strava friends or like-minded beginners, is /r/running. Here, you’ll find people from every path in life, strewn across every ability level/activity running can entail. Athletes who just won a competition will share their training routines, beginners will inspire you with their progress, enthusiasts will review the latest gear....
A favourite of ours, /r/bodyweightfitness, is another subreddit you should definitely check out. If not to gain insight into routines, you should use it to open your mind to the possibilities of working out without a gym or pair of running shoes. On a business trip? There’s a hotel-room stretching routine. Give it a look through—you won’t be disappointed.
4) Bodyweight Fitness
Speaking of which, we know a good app solely dedicated to the mentality that is bodyweight fitness. Using this app in conjunction with the many online forums (and that subreddit!) will train you to be incredibly efficient, knowing how every household object can become more valuable than a $2000 weight set. Bodyweight fitness can become such an ingrained part of your fitness mentality, that you might even skip the gym or a run to get in some extra training, all in the comfort of your own home.
The app itself is quite basic, but this isn’t detrimental to its effectiveness. With it, you’ll simply find tried and tested routines, across a small range of goals. There is no unnecessary information, no cluttered sales-pitches—just pure workouts, that require no apparatus to fulfil.
When you launch a workout, you’re met with brilliantly informative short videos, that feature the suggested amount of reps, pacing, and areas you’re improving. As you complete more and more workouts, the app gently pushes you towards improving specific areas you’re ignoring. It also highlights the importance of your warmup, which is something not enough fitness guides and apps do.
5) Zombies, Run!
At first sight, this may seem a bit wacky. But give it a go, and this app can transform even the most reluctant into enthusiastic runners. By introducing game mechanics to your workout, it motivates you by adding narrative to your runs. You play as a scavenger in a zombie apocalypse, and must outrun the undead horde in order to save yourself. Different levels of running are presented as different challenges, and the app is updated enough for it to seem fresh and engaging with every launch. Sounds of growling and screaming can make running at night be a bit daunting, but if you let yourself become immersed in it, you’ll see your efficiency increase beyond what any personal trainer could do.