The top 10 fitness apps for 2021

Finance Journalist · 12 October 2021
From managing our diaries and capturing our lives on camera, to entertaining us on our morning commute, smartphones have taken over many roles. But can they also be our gym partner and personal trainer?

With over a quarter of a million fitness apps out there vying for our attention, it seems they might well get close. But, like a workout buddy or personal trainer, picking an app that suits your fitness needs and lifestyle can be a workout in itself.

To help you with the heavy lifting, we’ve compiled a list of the workout apps currently topping the Apple Health & Fitness chart at the time of writing. We also spoke to personal trainer and former Miss World Australia, Tess Alexander, to get her insights on whether she believes fitness apps can replace the conventional ways of getting fit.

The 10 most downloaded fitness apps in Australia

1. MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a food and fitness tracker. The app also offers over 150 self-guided workout routines to choose from, so the days of frantically googling ‘workout ideas’ as you walk into the gym could well be numbered. As well as the fitness aspects, the app’s nutrition reports are designed to help you understand your daily food intake better and could help make goals like toning up, losing weight, changing unhealthy habits or becoming healthier overall that bit more achievable.

Features and benefits

  • Track your meals (either manually, by using the inbuilt barcode scanner or by using the meal scan tool) and gain calorie, macro and nutrition insights
  • Access to over 150 workout videos
  • Set weight, nutrition and fitness goals

How much does it cost? 

The app is currently free to download from both the Apple and Google Play stores, but you can also gain access to more features like guided fitness and nutrition plans and remove ads with a premium subscription. MyFitnessPal offers a one-month free trial of its premium subscription service. Pricing then starts from $14.99/month or $79.99/year.

2. Strava Training: Run & Ride

How do you like to exercise? Running? Cycling? Enjoy a bit of a swim? How about yoga? Like some of its members who are partial to a yoga session, Strava Training: Run & Ride is pretty flexible. Part workout tracker, part social network, the app allows users to track a range of activities, share them to their network and receive praise or ‘kudos’ from friends and followers in return. To help you stay inspired and challenged, the app also allows users to share their favourite routes with accompanying photos.

Features and benefits

  • Track and analyse stats such as distance, speed and calories burnt
  • Connect with friends and share your exercises and results
  • Monthly challenges to put your fitness skills to the test
  • Live GPS tracking

How much does it cost? 

Strava is currently free to download from both the Apple and Google Play stores. You can also purchase a Strava subscription which offers more tools and insights, including route planning, a training dashboard and goal setting.  A subscription can cost you $81.99/year or $10.99/month.

3. Sweat

Co-founded by personal trainer and fitness influencer Kayla Itsines, Sweat was designed with the goal of making women feel energised, strong and confident. The app offers multiple programs, created and hosted by well-known personal trainers and fitness/health influencers, from HIIT and circuit training workouts through to yoga and barre.

Features and benefits 

  • Workout regimes for both at home and in the gym, including workouts using no equipment
  • Planner to schedule your workouts and track your progress
  • Meal plans tailored to different dietary requirements
  • Connect with the Sweat community

How much does it cost? 

It’s free to download on Apple and Google Play, but you’ll need to have an active subscription to use any of the app’s services. You can currently get a free seven-day trial. After that, plans are $19.99/month or $119.94/year.

4. Move With Us

Founded by fitness trainer and WBFF Bikini World Champion Rachel Dillion, Move With Us is a female-focused health and fitness app. The app offers Train with Rachel programs, a library of workouts that can be done at home or at the gym, and meal guides.

Features and benefits

  • At home and gym workout options, including live workout options and minimal and no equipment options
  • Customisable workout planner
  • Meal guides and recipes catering to different dietary requirements
  • Progress tracking tools

How much does it cost?

Move With Us can be downloaded on the Apple and Google Play stores. It currently offers a free seven-day trial, after that you will have to purchase a program to continue using the app, starting from $79.99 for a six-month program.

5. Keep It Cleaner

Keep It Cleaner or KIC aims to take a holistic approach to health and wellness and create sustainable health changes. Co-founded by best friends Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw, the KIC app offers over 300 expert-led workouts including HIIT, strength, yoga and pilates, as well as guided meditations and meal plans.

Features and benefits

  • Hundreds of 20 to 30 minute workouts
  • Meal plans catering to different dietary requirements
  • Guided meditations
  • Connect with the KIC community

How much does it cost?

KIC is free to download on the Apple and Google Play stores and you can get the first seven days free. After that, subscriptions are $19.49/month, $49.99/quarter or $115/year.

6. Fitbit

The Fitbit app was designed to accompany the Fitbit wearable. It has become a well-known fitness brand over the years and its app appears to be in the same league in terms of popularity, at least if the Apple Health & Fitness charts are anything to go by. For those who already have enough to stay on top of in a typical day, the Fitbit app could ‘step’ in. But it’s not all about step counting – the app also offers video and audio workouts that you can do at home, including HIIT, cardio, strength and yoga.

Features and benefits

  • Tracks exercise, your heart rate and sleep
  • Video workouts you can do at home
  • You don’t need a Fitbit to use the app, but if you have one already, connecting your device can mean receiving more in-depth analysis of your activity
  • Connect with friends and start activity challenges

How much does it cost? 

The app is currently free to download via the Apple and Google Play stores, but users can also subscribe to become a premium member. This offers access to more workouts, personalised health programs and advanced insights into your behaviour and how it affects your health. You can currently get a free 90-day trial of Fitbit Premium. Subscriptions are then priced at $14.99/month or $129.99/year.

7. Centr, by Chris Hemsworth

Want to train like Thor? With the Centr app you can train, eat and improve your wellbeing with the help of Chris Hemworth’s team of trainers, chefs and meditation experts. In terms of workouts, Centr offers a range of six-week programs that require no or little equipment, as well as workout videos that can be done at home or in the gym.

Features and benefits

  • Workout programs and videos, including HIIT, boxing, yoga, strength training, pilates, MMA and more
  • Meal plans catering to different dietary needs
  • Guided meditations

How much does it cost?

Centr currently offers a free seven-day trial. After that, a subscription is currently $29.99/month, $59.99/quarter and $119.99/year. It’s available on the Apple and Google Play stores.

8. Muscle Booster Workout Planner

For the men looking for something tailored to them, Muscle Booster Workout Planner could be an option for your next training plan. Claiming to be a ‘substitute’ for a personal trainer, Muscle Booster says its smart training algorithm assists in finding a tailored exercise plan (a combination of cardio; strength; recovery; and low-intensity steady state, or LISS)  for men based on their goals and personal data.

Features and benefits 

  • Weekly updates to your workout plan
  • Access to a library with over 200 exercises

How much does it cost? 

Muscle Booster is free to download but a subscription is required in order to use the service. Subscriptions of $16.49/week, $32.99/month and $114.99/year are available. The app is available via the Apple and Google Play stores.

9. Zwift: Ride and Run

Want to run through the jungle? Or ride through central London? With Zwift you can run or cycle through a range of immersive virtual worlds from the comfort of your own home. Zwift says it blends the fun of playing a video game with the intensity of serious training. To use the app, you’ll need to have a treadmill and foot pod for running, or a bike and bike trainer for riding.

Features and benefits

  • Over 1,000 workouts and training plans
  • Participate in group rides, runs, workouts or races
  • 10 virtual worlds with over 100 routes

How much does it cost?

Zwift can be downloaded on the Apple and Google Play stores. It currently offers a free seven-day trial. After that, membership is $21.99 per month.

10. Tammy Fit

Created by influencer Tammy Hembrow, Tammy Fit says it will give you exactly what you need to work out and eat like Tammy. The app offers a range of eight-week programs, including gym booty, post-pregnancy full body and home-based full body programs. The app also features eight-week meal plans designed by nutritionists.

Features and benefits

  • Workout programs and individual workouts
  • Meal plans
  • Tools to track your progress, such as a weight tracker, daily water tracker and selfie diary

How much does it cost?

Tammy Fit can be downloaded on the App and Google Play stores. It currently comes with a free seven-day trial. After that, subscriptions are $19.99/month, $49.99/quarter or $99.99/annually.

Please note that this is just a selection of some of the apps available. There are other workout apps out there and we’re not making a recommendation about any of these platforms. It’s important to do your own research before deciding if any of these kinds of apps are suitable for you. Prices and other details described are based on information sourced via the app providers at the time of writing.

What does a personal trainer think about fitness apps?

With so many apps available, getting fit might seem as easy as clicking a button, but is it a stretch to think they are the solution to our workout woes?

Personal trainer and nutrition consultant, Tess Alexander, who is also a former Miss World Australia, said the apps can be very helpful, but warned users to first develop a sound foundation in safe movement.

“Form is so important, as we need to protect people from injury,” she said.

“You need to make sure you’re using and activating the right muscle groups, which isn’t necessarily something you can achieve via an app.

“I think that having a fitness app can be great once you’ve got a level of fitness and the right understanding when it comes to activating the right muscles.”

It has also been reported recently that some fitness tracking services may intensify problematic behaviours in vulnerable users, with the Butterfly Foundation, an organisation supporting people with eating disorders, warning that fitness trackers can be problematic in some cases.

There could be a negative effect on the mental health of the user, Miss Alexander said, but that would be on a case-by-case basis.

“I think that when you are suffering from an eating disorder, anything that brings health, fitness and nutrition into the forefront of your brain could perhaps be detrimental, so I can definitely see the connection.”

It’s also important to consider whether an app will be able to deliver a workout or nutritional plan that is suited to your specific fitness, health and lifestyle needs, Miss Alexander explained.

“Everybody is different, so it’s really hard to have a one-size-fits-all application,” she said.

“It’s hard to create a generic protocol equally suited to a 50-year-old, an 18-year-old, or someone who has a thyroid disorder or a person who has osteoporosis and therefore needs extra help when it comes to their bones.

“I think that a fitness program that comes in the form of a generic app should only be supplementary to seeing a healthcare or fitness professional.”

This article was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated, with earlier reporting by Lydia Hart.

Cover image source: ezphoto/Shutterstock/com

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This content was reviewed by Sub Editor Jacqueline Belesky and Finance and Lifestyle Editor Shay Waraker as part of our fact-checking process.

Tamika covers personal finance for Canstar, specialising in banking and general insurance. She joined the team after completing a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at QUT. She has previously written for a range of news, music and arts publications.

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