How to Choose the Best Fitness App Subscription

Illustration for article titled How to Choose the Best Fitness App Subscription
Image: Zwift

If you want to get fit at home, there are multiple fitness streaming services to choose from, and you don’t even have to splurge on pricey connected gym equipment. Apple, Fitbit, Peloton and others offer on-demand exercises you can stream to your TV or phone, and while there are similarities between these platforms, there are also some key differences.

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You do have options aside from a streaming fitness service, like signing up for a gym, finding a personal trainer, or taking advantage of free classes on YouTube. But if you want to work out in the safety of your own home and need a wide variety of classes, a one-stop-shop like the services below might be more your speed.

Here we’ll break down what you get with some of the more well-known options on the market—the kind of exercises and activities you can choose from, the hardware you need to use, how much you’re going to spend, etc. With so many different subscriptions to choose from, you should be able to find the perfect fit for your lifestyle.


Apple Fitness+

  • Price: $10/month or $80/year
  • Works on: Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV
  • Good for: Apple Watch owners
Illustration for article titled How to Choose the Best Fitness App Subscription
Screenshot: Apple Fitness Plus

Apple Fitness+ is the newest workout subscription service on the scene, and, as you might expect, it is very Apple. In fact, it only works with Apple devices—specifically the Apple Watch—to track workouts you stream from an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.

But if you are all-in on Apple hardware, Fitness+ is an excellent service. It offers a wide range of classes, including high-intensity interval training (HIIT), yoga, dance, core exercises, strength training, cycling, running, walking and rowing, and Apple says more are on the way. You can filter classes by trainer, class length, and even music.

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For the time being at least, all of the exercises and workouts are recorded rather than live, but they’re highly produced and easy to get into. Apple seems to have spent a lot of time thinking about beginners, and many of the tutorials come with alternative moves for those who have injuries or who are just starting their exercise journeys. It’s definitely one of the more accessible services we’ve tried.


Peloton

  • Price: $13/month
  • Works on: Android, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Fire TV, Android TV, Roku, the web, Peloton equipment
  • Good for: People who want to use their non-connected gym equipment with excellent instructors, or those who want to create choose-your-own-adventure workouts by stacking various classes
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Illustration for article titled How to Choose the Best Fitness App Subscription
Screenshot: Peloton

You can buy into the cult of Peloton without spending any money on an exercise bike or a treadmill, though of course the experience is the most seamless with Peloton hardware. Testing out the free trial of the All-Access Membership might actually be a good way of working out whether the Peloton equipment is right for you.

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There are thousands of classes to pick from in the app, either on-demand or live, and if you don’t like to cycle or run, there are plenty of other options: strength training, cardio, Pilates, and other class types like yoga and meditation, too. It’s a comprehensive all-round package, as you would expect considering Peloton’s expertise. Some workouts don’t need any equipment, so you just need yourself to get started, while others need basic fitness gear.

Classes range in length from as little as five minutes to an hour, and a new stacking feature lets you curate a workout playlist of classes to blitz through in whatever time limit you have to exercise. It’s an excellent option no matter what type of workouts you prefer.

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Fitbit Premium

  • Price: $10/month or $80/year
  • Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, the web
  • Good for: Fitbit users, beginners
Illustration for article titled How to Choose the Best Fitness App Subscription
Screenshot: Fitbit Premium
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Fitbit’s paid subscription service doesn’t actually require a Fitbit device, strictly speaking—but you do need a Fitbit account. Fitbit Premium includes all kinds of extras, including more detailed analysis of the data Fitbit collects on your activities, as well as access to the on-demand classes and tutorials that are branded under Fitbit Coach.

What Fitbit Coach (inside Fitbit Premium) does really well is guide you through exercises tailored to your current level of fitness—at the end of each one you can give feedback about how easy or hard you found the workout, and the app adapts accordingly. It’s one of the best platforms we’ve come across in terms of being beginner-friendly.

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The main section of the app is split up into two sections: Workouts, where you can browse by difficulty, muscle group, or duration, and Programs, which take you through a set routine on a daily or a weekly basis. There are lots of different routes to take through the material, and you can go at your own pace and pick exercises that specifically suit you.

If you use Fitbit Premium with a Fitbit watch or fitness band, then the whole experience is enhanced, because you can plug your stats and progress into the Fitbit Coach platform from whatever wearable you happen to have. You can even get detailed, one-to-one advice from a professional coach through the Fitbit app, though that’ll set you back $55 a month.

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iFit

  • Price: $180/year
  • Works with: Android, iOS, iPadOS, NordicTrack, ProForm, and FreeMotion equipment
  • Good for: Running and cycling, with equipment
Illustration for article titled How to Choose the Best Fitness App Subscription
Screenshot: iFit
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Hundreds of trainers, thousands of workouts, live and on-demand classes, compatibility with a host of equipment—iFit is an impressive contender in the fitness subscription space, and you can use it from just the mobile apps or in combination with NordicTrack, ProForm, or FreeMotion fitness equipment (NordicTrack parent company Icon Health & Fitness runs iFit).

iFit offers a ton of content, including studio workouts and some cool outdoor workouts as well. Whether you want to power-walk through the New Zealand countryside or push yourself on the exercise bike in your living room, iFit offers a wide variety of experiences led by professional and experienced instructors.

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You can tailor the experiences and workouts you get based on ability and fitness level, though it’s definitely a service geared more towards serious athletes and fitness fanatics rather than people just getting started. While the main focus is on running, cycling and strength training exercises, other topics such as yoga and better sleep are covered too.

If you think iFit might be the fitness platform for you, it’s worth checking out the many pieces of exercise equipment that work with it (many more than, say, Peloton). The service works best if you’ve got the gear to go along with it.

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Zwift

  • Price: $15/month
  • Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Windows, a variety of equipment
  • Good for: indoor cyclists and runners
Illustration for article titled How to Choose the Best Fitness App Subscription
Screenshot: Zwift
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Zwift is a bit more narrow in its focus than some of the other platforms we’ve mentioned here. It’s primarily about making running and cycling on your own equipment at home more fun, through the use of competitions, virtual worlds, stats analysis, and more.

There are no on-demand or live classes, just an app that runs on Android, iOS, iPadOS, the Apple TV and Windows. The app pits you against other users, and it lets you run or cycle through a wide variety of different virtual environments, charting your progress and keeping an eye on your stats (from any compatible devices).

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When it comes to the hardware you need for Zwift, there are a few different routes you can go down—all the details are here for cyclists and here for runners, but you need some way of telling Zwift how fast you’re moving. Besides a bike or treadmill, you can add other devices on top, such as smartwatches and other heart rate monitors.

While there are no classes as such, there are more than a thousand different workouts put together by coaches, so you can test yourself against specific goals as well as just run or cycle freely through more than 130 routes across 10 different virtual worlds. If you want to take your indoor cycling or running to the next level, then Zwift can definitely help.

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Wondercise

  • Price: $5/month or $36/year
  • Works with: Android, iPhone, Apple Watch and Garmin smartwatches
  • Good for: Precise performance measurement
Illustration for article titled How to Choose the Best Fitness App Subscription
Photo: Wondercise
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Our last option is a relatively new arrival. Like Apple’s Fitness+, it’s based around the Apple Watch or a Garmin smartwatch (various models are supported). Wondercise uses special algorithms to try and detect your performance and form as accurately as possible, giving you feedback as you go.

If you don’t have an Apple or Garmin wearable, you can buy a dedicated fitness band straight from Wondercise. It then tries to make sure you follow the exercises, as a personal trainer would. Wondercise says that it weighs several different health indicators and then customizes your courses and your feedback accordingly as you go.

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This will appeal to those who want to turn their living room into a home gym without spending a huge amount on equipment. You can even work through the hundreds of courses and exercises without any kind of device at all, though it’s better if you strap on a watch—intelligent feedback is the main selling point of Wondercise, after all.

Classes cover a range of activities, including yoga, aerobics, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, and more. If you prefer to work toward a particular goal, such as weight loss or muscle gains, then Wondercise can help with that too. You can opt to dip in and out of workouts, or get the app to work out a multi-week, personalized course for you.

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DISCUSSION

Been using Fitness+ since it launched and love it, particularly given the gyms are closed due to (waves hands wildly) all this, and it’s winter, which makes it sub-optimal to get outside for exercise. The fact Apple bundled it with their top level Apple One subscription service actually made it more appealing to our family given we were getting that tier anyways, so Fitness+ is basically a “free” bonus.