Tips, Wellness

Online Fitness Programs Review

Since all gyms are currently closed, many of us are looking into online at-home fitness programs to balance out all the bread and delicious home-cooked meals we’re making. Here is a review of the workout programs that I’ve tried over the years. Disclaimer: I’m not a personal trainer or fitness expert. This isn’t meant to be technical advice. It’s more to give you a sense of how I feel as a regular consumer of these services.

1. Blogilates

Strength

Cardio

Wellness

Fun Factor

Cost

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Platform: YouTube + downloadable calendars with clickable links to videos

Exercise Type: Pilates

Equipment needed: Yoga mat. Sometimes very light weights or a chair, broom and other random objects you will have at home. She even has apartment friendly exercises that won’t disturb your downstairs neighbour.

Apple Watch compatibility: None

Cost: Free or starting at $39.00 USD for premium content (PIIT28)

My experience: This used to be my sole form of physical activity back when I did not have a gym membership and when I was working crazy hours. I liked that it was flexible and provided me with some cardio and some body-weight training was well. Her videos vary in length. You can mix and match exercises or I can just follow along with the calendar and do the videos assigned to that day. Periodically, there are fun challenges focussing on various goals (arms, core, flexibility etc.). These challenges are usually very short daily exercises you can do. These are probably not sufficient to meet all your fitness goals but a great way to set a goal and to stay active daily. For example, I had a lot of fun kick starting the new year with her 2020 challenge. She tries to make her videos fun with her bubbly personality and incorporates high-energy beats to keep you engaged. She also designs her own line of cute active wear of which I have made quite a few purchases.

2. Yoga with Adriene

Strength

Cardio

Wellness

Fun Factor

Cost

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Platform: YouTube + downloadable calendars with clickable links to videos

Exercise type: Yoga

Equipment needed: Yoga mat. Sometimes a blanket, pillow or yoga block (optional).

Apple Watch compatibility: None

Cost: Free or $9.99/mo for premium content (Find What Feels Good)

My experience: I recently discovered this YouTube Channel because I was searching for exercises for upper back pain. I initially did a few videos specifically for back pain then completed her 30-day Home Yoga Journey. Her exercises are great for beginners and her Home program was particularly well done as it gradually built on the previous days exercises. This program is more on the restorative side and not power yoga routines. My back pain has subsided since then and this has been an excellent stress-relief and a way to practice mindfulness during this pandemic. Even after the completion of this program, I continue to work through her May calendar and try to do at least one practice most days of the week. I like that she doesn’t take things too seriously and is a very engaging instructor. She doesn’t have any music with most of her videos but that’s ok for me. I just turn on my diffuser for some aromatherapy and listen to that as white noise instead.

3. Nike Training Club

Strength

Cardio

Wellness

Fun Factor

Cost

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Platform: Mobile app

Exercise type: Body-weight, free-weights, cardio, yoga

Equipment needed: Option for no equipment, basic equipment (dumbbells, medicine ball, bench, plyo box, jump rope) or full equipment (basic + kettlebell, pull-up bar, rowing machine, suspension trainer)

Apple Watch compatibility: Yes. Gives tactile prompts when you’re moving to the next set of exercise. Allows you to tap to keep track of rep-based exercises. Technical glitches as it wasn’t able to track the workout properly sometimes.

Cost: Free

My experience: I started using this app to try to incorporate more free-weight exercises into my workout routine. Since I had access to some basic equipment at home and full equipment at the gym (pre-pandemic), I was interested in trying the exercises with the use of equipment. I do prefer to have a prescribed plan and not to have to choose my own exercise each time, so I completed their “Start Up” 4-week plan. There is benchmarking at the beginning and end of the program and built in pre-workout warm-up and post-workout stretching for each workout. It doesn’t have pre-set music but gives you the option to play your own music in the background. For this plan at least, there was not a lot of use of equipment so I was slightly disappointed. I felt that their exercises are still more endurance-based compared to strength-based. I felt there was a lot of repetitive exercises between the workouts, so I did feel it was a bit dry at times. I also tried their yoga workouts a couple of times and felt it was a bit choppy. They basically spliced together short exercise clips so sometimes it didn’t feel very coherent. This is not as big of a deal with weight/cardio exercises but doesn’t have the flow of a yoga routine.

4. Peloton

Strength

Cardio

Wellness

Fun Factor

Cost

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Platform: Mobile app

Exercise type: Body-weight, free-weights, cardio, yoga, running, cycling, stretching, bootcamp, walking

Equipment needed: Optional weights, bike, treadmill. Option for outdoor audio classes.

Apple Watch compatibility: Yes. Workout tracking works well.

Cost: 30-day free trial then $12.99 per month plus tax.

My experience: Many people (myself included) did not know that Peloton does on-demand workout classes in addition to their sale of stationary bikes and cycling classes. I’m currently using this app as another attempt to try to incorporate more weight-lifting into my workout routine. They have standalone classes as well as preset programs of which I am trying the “Total Strength” 4-week program. Similar to the Nike Training Club app, there is benchmarking and built in pre-workout warm-up and post-workout stretching. I prefer this app much more than the Nike one because production seems higher quality and the workouts to be more interactive and effective. A huge plus for this app is that they have really good music with the exercises which makes it super fun. I do prefer not to be called “baby” all the time but at least the energetic personality of the instructor makes the workout more enjoyable. There is also a social aspect because it shows you which other user who are doing the same workout at the same time and you can send them a virtual high-five! In addition, they have live classes you can attend too.

The weight-lifting days are actually making good use of my dumbbells and I did a HIIT class on a rest day and it was intense! They also have running/walking audio classes that you can take while you take advantage of the nicer weather. My friend has done this and quite enjoyed it. As a dance lover, I also tried their dance cardio class and was impressed they had a full choreography. It wasn’t really choreographed to a specific song though, so it was anti-climatic at the end. If you were looking for more advanced choreography and dance classes, I would check out The Underground Dance Centre instead. Overall, I’m very impressive with this app and is contemplating continuing with them even after the trial period.

5. Down Dog Yoga (Barre)

Strength

Cardio

Wellness

Fun Factor

Cost

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Platform: Mobile app

Exercise type: Barre, also separate apps for yoga, yoga for beginners, HIIT, 7-minute workout, and prenatal yoga

Equipment needed: Yoga mat and a chair

Apple Watch compatibility: Yes. Tracks duration and workout type but not calories burnt.

Cost: Free until July 1st, 2020 for teachers and students and healthcare workers in response to COVID-19 then $7.99 per month or $49.99 per year

My experience: I’ve been missing my barre classes, so I was on the lookout for a replacement. Their app was quite simple and you could customize it to make it your own workout. You can decide on the body part focus, duration of the working, music and length of each exercise. It was produced similar to the Nike Training App in the sense that it spliced short clips together to create a complete workout. I guess this is how they are able to allow for customization. The problem with this is that the music does not necessarily match the workout which unfortunately is a very important thing for me to experience an enjoyable workout. Similar to the Nike app, the workouts also seemed choppy. So compared to my in-gym barre classes (at GoodLife Fitness) and the free Les Mills on-demand ones provided by my gym, this was not as fun. I also downloaded their Yoga app to see how it’s like and the format is similar, slightly robotic. I think I prefer Yoga with Adriene where I get a more coherent, personable yoga routine instead.

And that’s all, folks! Hope this review will be helpful for those of you trying to decide how to stay active at home. Do you have more programs you’ve tried or you want me to try? Let me know in the comments section below.

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