When COVID-19 shut down every bar, restaurant, store, and coffee shop in sight, (remember when we were all learning how to make whipped coffee on TikTok in our pajamas?) gyms were no exception. Since 2020, 22% of gyms have closed permanently, which is wild.
And it doesn’t look like people are heading back anytime soon!
With many gym memberships shifting to online platforms during the pandemic, more and more of us are finding it easier to get a sweat on at home. If you’re considering ditching Equinox or 24-Hour Fitness for your workouts, we’ve got the cons, pros, and everything in between.
Online vs In Person
- Gets you out of the house: An in-person membership will get you out of the house! If you’re working from home, it could be beneficial to make your exercise routine an out-of-the-house activity.
- Amenities: This totally depends on what gym you join. A (expensive) gym like Equinox will be busting with amenities such as jacuzzis, spa treatments, and work spaces. Planet Fitness, not so much. So take this pro with a grain of salt.
- Lack of available equipment: There’s nothing more annoying than busting your butt to get to the gym just to find someone on the rack or treadmill you wanted.
- Commute: Getting there can be half the battle! If you don’t have a gym in your area, commuting to the gym is just plain annoying.
- Money: Again, this one depends. But for those of us who live in a city, gym memberships can be expensive AF!
- Classes: While classes usually cost extra at the gym, they are included in online workout subscriptions! This is sooo helpful if (like me) you’re a little clueless on how to start physical activity at home beyond just taking a walk (walks are great too).
- Ease: The keyword in “home workout program” starts with h and rhymes with dome. You get to do it all right from your living room! Or bedroom! Or wherever it is that you don’t mind sweating a bit! No commute, no wait for the gym shower, it’s all on your own time.
- Variety: Some of the subscriptions on this list are either cheap or free. That means a possibility for multiple memberships and tons of classes. You can get some variety into your fitness routine. Because there’s nothing more boring than hitting the elliptical over and over and over again.
- Lack of equipment: Not all of the online programs and classes require equipment. In fact, many of them don’t! That being said, if you enjoy the treadmill or stationary bike, you’ll have to invest in one in order to be fully independent of the gym.
With all this in mind, here are some of the best online fitness classes the app store has to offer!
14 Best Online Fitness Classes When You Want To Quit Your Gym
14 Best Online Fitness Classes When You Want To Quit Your Gym
Melissa Wood is top of the list because she’s a personal fave. I’m a sucker for pilates and this is definitely the best app for online pilates classes. Melissa Wood targets super specific muscle groups, so if that’s what you’re looking for in your fitness routine, this is for you.
The classes are short and sweet (the longest one is less than 30 minutes), so they’re perfect for squeezing in a quick workout in the middle of the day, or adding on to another exercise.
I’ve never felt more calm than after a Melissa Wood class. Each class begins and ends with a meditation on self love and the importance of carving time out for yourself. And lots of deep breathing.
No equipment is necessary. Some of the classes offer 1 lb weights as an option, but you don’t need to use them if you don’t want to. You’ll still f
We’ve all heard of Peloton by now. Or at least seen Cody Rigsby’s antics on TikTok. Peloton is great if you want to buy a bike or treadmill (although they’re stupid expensive), but there are TONS of virtual classes that don’t require the machinery.
One of the best things about the Peloton online fitness programs (which range from strength, to yoga, to even walking outside with a coach in your ear), is that if you check the schedule, you can join live exercise classes! There’s something extra motivating about a live class.
The Peloton subscription is not bad at all. Monthly membership costs are cheaper than most gym memberships, and there’s a free trial period that lasts an entire 30 days.
One of the best online workout programs for runners is the Garmin Connect app. The only problem is that this app is less useful without a Garmin watch . While the watch is a bit of an upfront cost, I’ve had my watch for over 4 years now, and it has paid for itself.
The Garmin Connect App is best for tracking runs and creating running programs depending on what your goals are (5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon). The app provides data based on watch input, and tracks your runs with a GPS. There are a ton of safety features, too.
If you’re not a runner, the app is still useful! There are virtual workout classes available, and you don’t have to pay a dime for them even if you don’t have a watch. Most of the classes are strength or yoga.
For those interested in body stats like heart rate, sleep, breathing patterns, or daily burn of calories, this app is useful as well.
One of the reasons I love Kayla Itsine’s app SWEAT is its inclusivity and dedication to women. This app in particular is made specifically by and for women, and how our bodies work best.
There are a wide range of body types among the app’s fitness instructors. This should ALWAYS be the case, but it’s great to see SWEAT’s dedication to represent all types of bodies.
This app went super viral during quarantine for the sheer amount of sweat you’ll produce with zero equipment. Most of the workouts are body weight high intensity interval training (HIIT), but there are plenty of low impact workouts if that’s more your vibe.
There’s a 7 day free trial period, too. I suggest springing for the annual membership rather than month-to-month, as it saves you some extra cash!
The FitOn subscription is such a great option for variety. They’ve got kickboxing, cardio (HIIT), dance classes, yoga, pilates, barre, stretching, strength training, breathing/meditation, and so much more.
The classes are super high energy with motivating instructors and tons of great playlists to listen too.
This is a great online workout subscription for beginners or people looking to try something new. Many of their classes are designated for beginners, which is super helpful when trying to comb through the site.
Nike Training Club
Alright. Ready for some good news?
The Nike Training Club offers some of the best online fitness classes for free. Yup. For free! Free online workout programs are available through the app and always will be!!
NTC offers pretty much everything from yoga to strength training. This app is super special because no matter what your fitness goals are, or what your starting point is, this app includes you!
The instructors are approachable and upbeat, which is so important in a workout.
Fitness and exercise can feel like touchy subjects, but NTC tries their best to make everyone feel included.
The Caliber fitness app is unique in that all of their trainers are super legit. Most of them are certified personal trainers with years of both in person and online experience.
Your online personal trainer is unique to you and the fitness plan you develop together is specialized for you and your goals. This kind of personalization costs a fortune in person, but you get it at a fraction of the cost with Caliber.
The cost is a little higher than with some of the other apps on this list, but this is a high intensity plan. All trainers are reachable 24 hours a day, everyday, and response times are guaranteed within the day.
Overall, I would suggest Caliber if you are brand new to the fitness game and want specialized advice on how to get active. Or, if your fitness goals are super intense and a little extra help is necessary Otherwise, I would stick to some of the cheaper and less stringent plans on this list.
Future is very similar to Caliber. The online fitness program is specially designed for each individual user and pairs you with a coach. The cost is higher than other apps, too.
The biggest upside to the Future app is that it pairs with tech such as Apple Watch, Fit Bit, and Garmin so you can track your workouts. Also, the workout instructions feed through your headphones and are very easy to follow.
The cost is high, but so are the results– the app boasts a 4.9 rating on the Apple store.
I love Obé for their variety. They have basically all of the on demand fitness classes you could ever dream of. Trampoline workouts, barre, dance, pilates, stationary bike, yoga, classic strength, they really do have it all.
This app is a good fit for those who like to change it up! One type of workout day in and day out can get tedious. Why not add a little bit of excitement to the daily workout grind?
Their brand also has a great mission. Fitness culture has historically relied on diet fads, body shaming, and hours upon hours of boring cardio.
Obé positions physical activity as more of a gift of self-love than a burden, and they emphasize fitness to recharge rather than to change your body. With tons of fun classes and an amazing outlook on fitness, Obé Fitness is top notch at a great price.
The “Alo” in Alo Moves stands for “all-in-one,” which this app really is. When it comes to online exercise classes, Alo Moves takes care of business to make sure you never need a gym subscription again.
Yoga is the focus of Alo. This makes their classes especially accessible for those with not much gym equipment at home. All you need is a mat! Or even just a soft rug.
There are options other than yoga such as barre, pilates, stretching, and mindfulness. It’s a very flexibility focused type of fitness program that emphasizes skill retention and peace over metrics like calories burn or intensity.
Classes last anywhere from 5-70 minutes, so you can always find a class that fits into your schedule.
Similar to some of the other high end apps, CoPilot will match you with an online personal trainer. They then design a customized workout plan based on you and your goals.
The app is designed to be easy to use. Your coach is reachable 24 hours a day via text or the app, so any questions you may have are instantly answered.
In terms of pairing with a watch, CoPilot works best with Apple watches. FitBit and Garmin are less likely to sync up to your workouts as seamlessly if you’re interested in tracking.
If your YouTube account is anything like mine, then you’ve been bombarded with Lebron James ads for Tonal for the past six months. Just know you’re not alone.
Tonal is similar to Peloton because yo uhave to buy the equipment. It’s advertised as “a home gym that works as hard as you do,” and based on the reviews, Tonal seems to live up to the hype if you're looking for home workout programs and live classes.
The equipment is one vertical display (it kind of looks like a mirror) that leads and demonstrates all your workouts. A bench and some light accessories are included as well.
Tonal is a bit pricey, but is worth it for those who want to stock their home gym and are more focused on strength training home workouts.
YouTube was the undisputed MVP of the early days of COVID-19 workouts. There are tons of different (free) workout instructors on YouTube, but here are some of my favorites.
Yoga with Adrienne is fantastic for anyone trying to get involved in yoga. It can be intimidating to roll up to a yoga class as a beginner, so I’ve used this class to get some confidence before an in-person session. Plus, the buy in is cheap: the class is free, and all you need is a yoga mat!
Grow With Jo is where you should look for variety. Jo is the most upbeat and peppy workout instructor I’ve ever seen, so it could be a great way to start your day. Plus, her workouts are designated by difficulty to work well with any fitness level.
POPSUGAR Fitness is just fun. They pump the music, dance, and look like they’re having a good time doing it. While they do lead a lot of cardio dance classes, there are some more strength focused classes too.
TikTok is the widest net to cast for free online workouts. There have been days when I’ve wanted to target a specific muscle group or even just work up a quick sweat at home, and TikTok has been the perfect tool.
Some users post specific personal training content (Demi Bagby, Antonie Lokhort, and Ulisses just to name a few), but I prefer to search exactly the type of workouts I want. That way, I can pick my own workout.
Heading into summer, I’m always on the hunt for ways to tighten up my finances. I’d rather splurge on beach trips and summer cocktails.
If you feel the same, consider canceling the expensive gym membership and looking into some of these apps!
Who knows, you may even discover a new type of class you enjoy or maybe even develop breathing and meditation habits (soooo many of these apps encourage it).