By Elise Leise 

Choosing a workout app is harder than it appears. After spending 10+ minutes on the App Store scrolling through the variety of options under Health and Fitness, I decide that scrolling through my mobile device is probably not the way to achieve my #fitnessgoals and subsequently gave up – not my finest moment. 

That being said, apps are great. Who doesn’t want the freedom to work out when, where, and how you want? Forget the yoga studio that takes half an hour to drive to and the running clubs that pound the pavement at sunrise. With a few swipes and taps on a workout app, you unlock personalised workouts, accountability buddies, and the motivation to get moving. 

Thus, after much deliberation (read: blood, sweat, and tears) the following recommendations have been compiled to help you crush your goals with ease. 

Nike+ Training Club

From one of the world’s leading fitness icons comes an excellent free workout app. It’s unheard of to be offered such a variety of exercises and expert tips for nothing, but fortunately for us who want to join the club, all you need to provide is an email address. 

After one quick question – namely, how active are you? – you suddenly have 100+ workouts and a squadron of Nike Master Trainers and Athletes at your disposal. For example, answering their query somewhere between “I’m a little rusty” and “I’m ready for everything” gives you a reasonable range of workouts, from Full Body Ignition to Deep Restorative Yoga. 

For most of their sessions, you’ll spend an intense minute doing jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or planks followed by a brief respite of 10 or so seconds to catch your breath. Throughout the workout, your Nike Trainer shouts words of encouragement to keep you motivated, ensuring that you push through. All in all, you may be a sweaty mess with trembling and aching muscles by the end of it all, but the subsequent endorphin-fueled happiness makes it all worth it. Mission accomplished. 

7 Minute Workout 

If it’s consistency you want, it’s sometimes best to keep it short and sweet. This app has become so popular that the term “7 Minute Workout” is now an umbrella term for a whole host of apps and workout websites. The app promises to maximise your results while limiting your time invested, the theory is that something is better than nothing. 

Their Classic Workout is divided into 13 exercises, each lasting for 30 seconds. Flex your muscles with triceps dips, stretch your limits with side planks, amp up with jumping jacks – or, alternatively, choose a 7-Minute Workout devoted exclusively to your abs, legs, arms, or derrière. The instructions are short and clipped, with a quick whistle or beep to transition between movements, but one thing is for sure: these workouts leave you sweaty and satisfied. 

You can set daily workout reminders, access a community forum with feedback, training tips, and nutritional advice, and, for those of you with a Fitbit or Google – dependent device, pair and integrate this exercise companion into your daily life. 

Down Dog 

If it’s yoga you desire, your flow should start with Down Dog – a training app that brings the yoga studio to you. Each time you choose to practice, you’ll be guided through a range of new poses, ensuring that, like The Piña Colada Song, you never fall into the same old dull routine. The other aspect that stands out is their simple display of pose names on your screen, which expands your yoga vocabulary far beyond “Down Dog” to Bharadvajasanas and Padangusthasanas. 

As you click the Start icon, you’ll see a personal instructor lying in the middle of a minimalistic brick yoga studio, seated on a simple black mat and preparing to guide you through the motions. The pace comes across as relaxed and natural, but your skill level is stretched with gentle instructions and progressively complex movements. What’s more, Down Dog allows for complete customisation, offering a curated selection of music, skill levels, and flow lengths. 

With an elegant counting clock and mellow alt beats to keep your flow going, this app gives off the same vibe as an intimate session with a yoga instructor, allowing you to bend and breathe your way to an inner stillness in even the busiest of times. 

8Fit

If you’d like to set yourself a challenge and create a personalised workout plan, 8Fit may be the app to download. Brief them on your current fitness level by answering a series of questions such as “How many flights of stairs can you jog up?” and “I can do X number of push-ups,” and they’ll come up with a compilation of weekly workouts tailored to your goals. 

I chose one of their medium-level programs and ended up with a balanced mix of Reps (workouts that ask you to do exercises such as 60 jumping jacks as quickly as possible), Tabata (alternative periods of intense training and rest), and something called a Paleo Run – which, apparently, incorporates movements that humans used as cavemen. There are a plethora of other options for those looking to get into peak physical shape, as well as videos that push you to power through any pain. 

My verdict? Bring on the challenge. 

Abs Workout

“GET READY. Be prepared. Turn on the music and get pumped. It’s time to start your workout.” 

That’s a small taste of what’s in store for those of you who choose to concentrate on forming rock-hard abs. Abs Workout offers three simple options: a quick and efficient 7 Minute bodyburn, a Core Trainer all-around workout, and an intense Ab Blaster routine that tones and flattens ferociously. 

Little graphics accompany each movement, and a quick click on any exercise yields a simple explanation of how to do it correctly. Not sure what a Superman is? According to Abs Workout, it, unfortunately doesn’t require a cape – all you need to do is lie face down with your legs straight and arms overhead, contract your glutes, and lift your limbs for take-off. 

And there you have it. With a final honourable mention belonging to the 30 Days Squat Challenge, the name of which is self-explanatory, the top contenders have been separated from the pretenders. There’s no need to spend seven minutes scrolling through the App Store when you could be jumping and squatting your way to a healthier, fitter version of yourself. 

With these five free workout apps, consider your #FitnessGoals officially crushed.

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