As temperatures rise, it gets harder to head outdoors to exercise. Running, hiking, and biking are no fun when you’re baking in the sun, and spending hours on the treadmill gets tedious. Just in time for summer, here are some of our favorite workout apps and websites that offer variety and on-the-go portability so you can get – or stay – in top form this summer.
All of the apps and programs I tested offer a free trial or free “basic version,” which I’d recommend you start with. Get a feel for the interface, how well you sync with the instructors or trainers, and pick the one you’ll stick with before you commit to the premium (paid) membership.
As a veteran at-home exerciser (two young kids make it hard to get to the gym), I’ve amassed a collection of workout videos. Yet over time, doing the same ten, or twelve, workouts over and over gets tiresome. Daily Burn was created just for people like me: those looking to fit in a fast workout at home without sacrificing variety.
Install the app on your Smartphone, tablet or eReader, or access Daily Burn online, through various gaming consoles, or through various streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV or Google’s Chromecast (to name but a few). Setup an account with your age, weight, and fitness goals, and you’ll get access to a huge catalog of workout videos that you can do anytime, anywhere.
The program uses the fitness goals you list to recommend a series of workouts. A suggested workout will show up on your Daily Burn homepage every day, but if it doesn’t strike your fancy simply search through their huge library of workouts to find one to suit your needs. Workouts range from 15 to 60 minutes, and you can sort videos by workout type, length of workout, difficulty, or preferred trainer. Some workouts incorporate yoga mats, stability balls, exercise bands and dumbbells.
The commercial brags “I’m never bored with Daily Burn,” and so far I’ve found this to be true. It’s a great way to try something new, or just get a variety of the workouts you love. The first 30 days are free, and then you’ll pay $14.95/month. There’s an optional “live coach” for an additional $15/month.
For those who prefer the guided exercise structure of a personal trainer, there’s FitStar Personal Trainer. Basic membership gives you free access to two recommended workouts each week, and a limited number of “Freestyle” workouts that you can do anytime. As you progress through a workout, you’ll answer a quick set of questions after each move to gauge how it worked for you: how many reps you completed (or how long you kept up), and was it too easy, just right, or brutal. This feedback allows the program to learn your level and tailor workouts to challenge you and keep you progressing.
Upgrade to Premium for $7.99/month or $39.99/year and you’ll get access to the complete catalog of “Freestyle” workouts as well as more regular recommended workouts, tailored to the goal you input (get lean, get strong, get moving, or daily dose). The length and calories you’ll burn are listed on the workout title bar, and you can preview the moves in a workout before you get started. There are lots of short workouts available that require minimal space and little to no equipment. Workouts can be accessed on your computer, iPhone or iPad.
If you’re looking to squeeze your fitness into the shortest time possible, the 7 Minute Workout app from Johnson & Johnson guides you through a series of simple moves to complete a total body workout in seven minutes. Workouts can be done in a small space with no equipment. Trainer Chris Jordan demoes and talks you through each move. Pick among workouts sorted by difficulty, or use the recommended workout, which gauges your fitness ability and steadily increases in intensity as you get stronger. This one is totally free, and a great option to bring along on your summer vacation.
Finally, for yoga lovers like me, the newest addition to the FitStar lineup is FitStar Yoga. Similar to their personal trainer program, FitStar Yoga offers a free basic version that gives you access to one personalized 20-minute session each week and a limited number of “Freestyle” workouts. Upgrade to Premium for $7.99/month or $39.99/year and you’ll get unlimited personalized sessions (every time you complete one, a new one shows up on your app homepage) and access to their complete library of “Freestyle” sessions, clearly marked with the length and calories you’ll burn.
I was happy to discover that in the Yoga program you aren’t asked to give feedback on the poses until the end of the workout, allowing you to flow more smoothly between moves. The pose ratings you provide after each workout allows the app to personalize sessions to your level and progress. The only drawback is that you can only use the app on iOS devices like an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV; you can’t access workouts online.
Both FitStar Personal Trainer and FitStar Yoga offer the option to send data directly to a FitBit, Nike+, UP by Jawbone or to MyFitnessPal. This is helpful because fitness trackers often struggle to accurately assess the calories you expend in a strength building or yoga workout.
Whatever you do to get moving this summer, your computer or mobile device can give you access to variety, motivation and support.