The Best Fitness Apps for Working Out At Home
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The Best Fitness Apps for Working Out At Home

Pick a fitness platform that has exercises for your fitness level.

By Nicol Nguyen
Mon, Jan 10, 2022 3:08pmGrey Clock 5 min

I’m a card-carrying member of Club Living Room. Don’t get me wrong: I used to hit the gym at least three times a week. But when I started working—and working out—from home, I became a convert. Mostly because of fitness apps.

These apps saved me money, and fit anywhere in my chaotic schedule. Even with the return to in-person workouts, I plan to keep them in my routine. For most people, regardless of age, fitness level or amount of disposable income, the smartest path to fitness is through an app.

Sure, connected-gym hardware offers an integrated, distraction-free, sensor-laden social experience. But it has high upfront costs plus a monthly subscription, and often runs proprietary software that doesn’t work with other content providers.

Fitness apps, on the other hand, can be customized to work at home or in a gym, with or without equipment, as well as outdoors. They can make working out from home, or wherever you are, easy, fun and effective—as long as you pick the right one. The number of options is overwhelming: App Annie, a mobile analytics firm, estimates that the iOS and Android app stores had at least 71,000 health-and-fitness apps world-wide in 2020.

What should a good fitness app offer? And how do you use an app to create a well-rounded, sustainable exercise routine?

“Fitness is not one size fits all. A good app will account for that by offering variety,” said Zakkoyya Lewis-Trammell, assistant professor of kinesiology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. That could mean a mix of workouts by length, intensity and style that allows you to choose, depending on your needs and fitness level.

The most important aspect of a fitness app is that it offers exercise you like to do, according to Aimee Layton, assistant professor of physiology at Columbia University Medical Center and member of Peloton’s Health and Wellness Advisory Council, or combines something you like to do with exercising—for instance, watching TV while using an indoor biking app such as Zwift.

“Self-efficacy,” or believing that you can successfully do what the program is asking of you, is another critical feature, Dr. Layton says.

After testing dozens of different fitness apps, I have a few tips of my own:

• Free content on YouTube and free trials can help you figure out which kind of workouts you enjoy doing before committing to a program. (On iOS and Android, you can immediately unsubscribe to avoid being charged.) A paid subscription, however, can mean a better experience and greater commitment.

• During an activity, turn on Do Not Disturb. An email pop-up can quickly cut a workout short. (On iOS, you can even set up a fitness-specific Focus mode to allow truly important stuff through.)

• Access to downloadable classes is useful, especially for frequent travellers or people with poor internet connectivity.

The following apps, my favourites during the past year, have all of the above in mind. They kept me engaged with many different types of workouts, as well as options for warm-ups and cool-downs to prevent injury. But, of course, working out is a highly personal activity, so try before you buy—all of these platforms offer a free trial.

Peloton Digital

It’s for Music-motivated fitness enthusiasts

Price: $16.99 a month

Platforms: iOS, Android, web, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Android TV

Peloton offers plenty to its app subscribers, customers who don’t have the company’s pricey bike or treadmill. Tune into multiple live-streamed classes a day, or download on-demand workouts offline. The app’s music-themed Artist Series workouts are best: Try the BTS ride, AC/DC full-body strength class and Beyoncé dance cardio. There are guided outdoor runs and walks, too. You can connect a Bluetooth heart-rate sensor or Apple Watch to see a “strive score” based on heart-rate zones. App users can’t see how their metrics stack up against other members’ on Peloton’s leaderboard—that’s exclusive to the people who own its equipment.

Alo Moves

It’s for: Those focused on mindfulness

Price: Approx. $28 a month or $276 a year

Platforms: iOS, Android, web, Apple TV, Chromecast

Alo Moves’ library is packed with content for people who prefer to move on a yoga mat. From challenging power yoga to epic sound-bath meditation, the app features a range of classes. There are barre, Pilates and strength-based workouts, as well. Don’t know where to start? Drop into one of Alo Moves’ series, which include a virtual yoga retreat to the island of Santorini. If you can’t be in Greece, take your workout outside: Any class you bookmark can be downloaded offline.


It’s for: People who want a plan

Price: $29 a month, or $177 a year.

Platforms: iOS, Android, web

Sweat is a personalized training app based on 37 different programs that range from two weeks to more than 24. After you select a program, the app plots your workout schedule on a calendar. Instead of a guided studio-style workout, Sweat assembles personalized exercises for each workout. You can input the equipment you have access to, choose your own playlist, select the pre-workout warm-up and substitute any exercises that are too easy or difficult. And if you need meal inspiration, the app suggests daily healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. Unfortunately, there’s no support for offline workouts.

Apple Fitness+

It’s for: Apple Watch users

Price: $14.99 a month or $119.99 per year.

Platforms: iOS, Apple Watch, Apple TV

Apple’s platform features guided activities across 10 different disciplines, including cycling and Pilates. Many of the workouts, which can be streamed or downloaded, are beginner and low-impact; there are programs designed specifically for older adults and people who are pregnant. Fitness+ does require users to own a Series 3 Apple Watch or newer. Watch stats, such as heart rate and calories, show up on screen during workouts. On Monday, the app launches guided, audio-based outdoor running workouts, called Time to Run. New episodes will be delivered weekly, and downloaded to the paired Apple Watch.

Fitness+ is a better value when it’s shared: Everyone in your iCloud household (up to six people) can use a single subscription—but they all need an Apple Watch.


It’s for: People who want personal training and accountability

Price: Approx. $207 a month

Platforms: iOS and Apple Watch

Picking a workout, like picking what to watch on Netflix, can be daunting. Future takes the guesswork out of crafting a training plan. First, you’re paired with a live personal trainer, with whom you’ll discuss your schedule, equipment and goals over FaceTime. Then, every week, your coach will send a schedule that includes a personalized set of exercises, and track your progress on your Apple Watch, which is required. (The company plans to expand to Android this year.)

You can upload videos of your workouts to get feedback on your form. Travelling or need a rest day? Message your trainer through the app to modify your exercises accordingly. The app’s primary feature is accountability: Your trainer might nudge you if your Apple Watch stats suggest you aren’t sticking to the plan.


Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: January 9, 2022.


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GENOA, Italy—Renato Zanelli crossed the finish line with a rusty iron hanging from his neck while pulling 140 pounds of trash on an improvised sled fashioned from a slab of plastic waste.

Zanelli, a retired IT specialist, flashed a tired smile, but he suspected his garbage haul wouldn’t be enough to defend his title as world champion of plogging—a sport that combines running with trash collecting.

A rival had just finished the race with a chair around his neck and dragging three tires, a television and four sacks of trash. Another crossed the line with muscles bulging, towing a large refrigerator. But the strongest challenger was Manuel Jesus Ortega Garcia, a Spanish plumber who arrived at the finish pulling a fridge, a dishwasher, a propane gas tank, a fire extinguisher and a host of other odds and ends.

“The competition is intense this year,” said Zanelli. Now 71, he used his fitness and knack for finding trash to compete against athletes half his age. “I’m here to help the environment, but I also want to win.”

Italy, a land of beauty, is also a land of uncollected trash. The country struggles with chronic littering, inefficient garbage collection in many cities, and illegal dumping in the countryside of everything from washing machines to construction waste. Rome has become an emblem of Italy’s inability to fix its trash problem.

So it was fitting that at the recent World Plogging Championship more than 70 athletes from 16 countries tested their talents in this northern Italian city. During the six hours of the race, contestants collect points by racking up miles and vertical distance, and by carrying as much trash across the finish line as they can. Trash gets scored based on its weight and environmental impact. Batteries and electronic equipment earn the most points.

A mobile app ensures runners stay within the race’s permitted area, approximately 12 square miles. Athletes have to pass through checkpoints in the rugged, hilly park. They are issued gloves and four plastic bags to fill with garbage, and are also allowed to carry up to three bulky finds, such as tires or TVs.

Genoa, a gritty industrial port city in the country’s mountainous northwest, has a trash problem that gets worse the further one gets away from its relatively clean historic core. The park that hosted the plogging championship has long been plagued by garbage big and small.

“It’s ironic to have the World Plogging Championship in a country that’s not always as clean as it could be. But maybe it will help bring awareness and things will improve,” said Francesco Carcioffo, chief executive of Acea Pinerolese Industriale, an energy and recycling company that’s been involved in sponsoring and organizing the race since its first edition in 2021. All three world championships so far have been held in Italy.

Events that combine running and trash-collecting go back to at least 2010. The sport gained traction about seven years ago when a Swede, Erik Ahlström, coined the name plogging, a mashup of plocka upp, Swedish for “pick up,” and jogging.

“If you don’t have a catchy name you might as well not exist,” said Roberto Cavallo, an Italian environmental consultant and longtime plogger, who is on the world championship organizing committee together with Ahlström.

Saturday’s event brought together a mix of wiry trail runners and environmental activists, some of whom looked less like elite athletes.

“We like plogging because it makes us feel a little less guilty about the way things are going with the environment,” said Elena Canuto, 29, as she warmed up before the start. She came in first in the women’s ranking two years ago. “This year I’m taking it a bit easier because I’m three months pregnant.”

Around two-thirds of the contestants were Italians. The rest came from other European countries, as well as Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“I hope to win so people in Senegal get enthusiastic about plogging,” said Issa Ba, a 30-year-old Senegalese-born factory worker who has lived in Italy for eight years.

“Three, two, one, go,” Cavallo shouted over a loudspeaker, and the athletes sprinted off in different directions. Some stopped 20 yards from the starting line to collect their first trash. Others took off to be the first to exploit richer pickings on wooded hilltops, where batteries and home appliances lay waiting.

As the hours went by, the athletes crisscrossed trails and roads, their bags became heavier. They tagged their bulky items and left them at roadsides for later collection. Contestants gathered at refreshment points, discussing what they had found as they fueled up on cookies and juice. Some contestants had brought their own reusable cups.

With 30 minutes left in the race, athletes were gathering so much trash that the organisers decided to tweak the rules: in addition to their four plastic bags, contestants could carry six bulky objects over the finish line rather than three.

“I know it’s like changing the rules halfway through a game of Monopoly, but I know I can rely on your comprehension,” Cavallo announced over the PA as the athletes braced for their final push to the finish line.

The rule change meant some contestants could almost double the weight of their trash, but others smelled a rat.

“That’s fantastic that people found so much stuff, but it’s not really fair to change the rules at the last minute,” said Paul Waye, a Dutch plogging evangelist who had passed up on some bulky trash because of the three-item rule.

Senegal will have to wait at least a year to have a plogging champion. Two hours after the end of Saturday’s race, Ba still hadn’t arrived at the finish line.

“My phone ran out of battery and I got lost,” Ba said later at the awards ceremony. “I’ll be back next year, but with a better phone.”

The race went better for Canuto. She used an abandoned shopping cart to wheel in her loot. It included a baby stroller, which the mother-to-be took as a good omen. Her total haul weighed a relatively modest 100 pounds, but was heavy on electronic equipment, which was enough for her to score her second triumph.

“I don’t know if I’ll be back next year to defend my title. The baby will be six or seven months old,” she said.

In the men’s ranking, Ortega, the Spanish plumber, brought in 310 pounds of waste, racked up more than 16 miles and climbed 7,300 feet to run away with the title.

Zanelli, the defending champion, didn’t make it onto the podium. He said he would take solace from the nearly new Neapolitan coffee maker he found during the first championship two years ago. “I’ll always have my victory and the coffee maker, which I polished and now display in my home,” he said.

Contestants collected more than 6,600 pounds of trash. The haul included fridges, bikes, dozens of tires, baby seats, mattresses, lead pipes, stoves, chairs, TVs, 1980s-era boomboxes with cassettes still inside, motorcycle helmets, electric fans, traffic cones, air rifles, a toilet and a soccer goal.

“This park hasn’t been this clean since the 15 century,” said Genoa’s ambassador for sport, Roberto Giordano.


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