10 of the most popular fitness apps out there

From managing our diaries and capturing our lives on camera, to entertaining us on our morning commute, smartphones have taken over many roles.

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 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 grab her insights on whether she believes fitness apps can replace the conventional ways of getting fit.

10 of the most downloaded fitness apps available 

1. MyFitnessPal

With over 350 exercises to choose from, the days of frantically googling ‘workout ideas’ as you walk into the gym could well be numbered. MyFitnessPal says it aims to help you keep everything you need health and workout-related in one place, almost like a mini fitness diary. As well as the fitness aspects, the app’s nutrition reports are designed to help you understand your daily food intake better and aims to make goals like toning up, losing weight, changing unhealthy habits or becoming healthier overall that bit more achievable.

Features and benefits

  • Your own mobile cookbook that allows you to import your fave recipes.

  • Track your calorie intake, either manually or by using the inbuilt barcode scanner.

Will it break the bank?

The app is currently free to download from both the Apple and Google Play stores, but to gain access to more features like removing ads, unlimited access to previous weekly reports and exclusive member-only content, MyFitnessPal offers a subscription service costing $9.99/month or $49.99/year.

2. Fitbit

Fitbit 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 in a typical day, the Fitbit app could ‘step’ in. But it’s not all about step counting – the app seems to track just about anything and everything a human does in a day to help keep you on the right path.

Features and benefits

  • Tracks workouts, hydration, calories burnt and sleep.

  • You don’t need a Fitbit to use the app, but if you happen to have one already, connecting your device can mean receiving more in-depth analysis of your activity.

  • Additional health and fitness options for paid subscriptions.

Will it break the bank?

While it’s currently free to download via the Apple and Google Play stores, users can subscribe to become a premium member. This offers access to audio and video workouts, guided personalised health programs, insights into your behaviour and how it affects your health, as well as analytics on your sleep. Subscriptions are priced at $14.99/month or $129.99 annually. If you want to pair the app with an actual Fitbit device, they start at $99, according to the Fitbit website.

3. Fitness workout by GetFit

Now, while workouts titles like ‘Fat Destroyer’ and ‘Power & Strength’ don’t sound like they’re for the faint hearted, Fitness workout by GetFit actually says it aims itself largely at those who are starting out on a fitness journey or who, for whatever reason, have tried before but gave up. As well as its main workout offering, Fitness workout by GetFit, features a ‘Community and Blog’ section which shares expert insights and allows those using the app to comment and discuss the topics with their fellow fitness fanatics.

Features and benefits

  • Four masterclass workout plans offered.

  • Personalised programs.

  • Narrated videos to help understand and avoid confusion during your workout.

Will it break the bank?

The app is free to download from the Apple and Google Play store. A subscription service is available, costing $9.99 for one week (including a three-day free trial), or $34.99 if you sign up for either for six or 12 months. Subscribers who splash out on the subscription version of the app get access to more personalised workouts as well as other features.

4. BetterMen: Workout Trainer

Describing itself as a 24/7, 365-day-a-year personal trainer in the palm of your hand, BetterMen: Workout Trainer offers a mixture of exercise and meal plans designed to help users reach whatever fitness or weight goal they have in mind. For the more self-conscious user, the app allows members to identify ‘problem zones’ such as a ‘weak chest’, ‘skinny arms’ and ‘beer belly’, then suggests exercises targeted at tackling them. Te app’s slick marketing even offers illustrations of a range of ripped characters to help you identify your ideal target body shape and keep you motivated.

Features and benefits

  • Exercises include instructions and video to help demonstrate every step of the routine.

  • Weekly meals plans.

  • Diet tips and guides.

Will it break the bank?

Downloading the app is free and users can access a free seven-day trial of the premium version at the time of writing, giving them an opportunity to experience features such as professional workout programs, personalised meal plans and removal of ads. Thereafter, the premium service is offered for $184.99/year or $14.99/week. Available at Apple and Google Play stores.

5. 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

  • Analyse stats such as distance, speed and calories burnt.

  • Share your excersises and results with other Strava users.

  • Monthly challenges to put your fitness skills to the test.

  • Live GPS tracking.

Will it break the bank?

Currently free to download from both Apple and Google Play stores, but a subscription service called Strava Summit is also available and offers more tools and insights. Subscription is available in three packs; Analysis (offering in-depth insights specified to you), Training (featuring more tools to help you reach your fitness goal) and Safety (Ability to explore new roads and trails with live GPS tracking). For all three packs, it will cost $81.99/year or $10.99/month, or a discounted rate per pack applies for users who purchase more than one individual pack.

6. MINDBODY: Fitness, Salon & Spa

Stress can come at us from many different directions, but on the flip side, there seem to fitness and wellness classes available in most directions you look too. MINDBODY: Fitness, Salon & Spa is an app that aims to make it a bit easier to find a provider that suits your needs, location and price range, whether you’re after a fitness class, beauty appointment or a relaxing spa day. There are over 52,000 businesses listed, and with verified reviews from your fellow fitties, the app aims to help you find both the hidden gyms and hidden gems in your area.

Features and benefits

  • Save your favourite class or service provider in the app for future bookings.

  • Class performance and calories burnt can also be tracked within the app.

  • Intro offers and flexible pricing for classes and services available for some providers via the app.

Will it break the bank?

The app is free to download on Apple and Google Play and is free to use

7. BetterMe: Walking and Weightloss

Needing a more relaxed, lower intensity way to get fit? BetterMe: Walking and Weightloss takes the simple activity of walking and uses that as your main workout. After choosing a daily goal such as ‘sleep better’ or ‘stay fit’,  users are given an individual program tailored to their specific lifestyle. The app offers daily reminders to help keep you motivated and on track to reach your step goal, while also allowing you to access music, audiobooks and podcasts on your phone direct from the app to keep you entertained as you walk.

Features and benefits

  • Designed to be suitable for any level of fitness.

  • Instructions included for each training session.

  • Water tracker included.

Will it break the bank?

Though a free download is available, users must subscribe for ongoing use, with the choice of $14.99/week and $179.99/year payment options. A free seven-day trial period is available on all subscriptions. Download from the Apple or Google Play stores.

8. BetterMe: Weight Loss Workouts

From the same people (Genesis Technology Partners) who bring you the BetterMen: Workout Trainer and BetterMe: Walking and Weightloss apps discussed above, this version offers a two-step plan to help you lose weight and get fit. Step one involves answering questions about your goals and fitness level and dietary preferences, while step two takes that info and formulates a personalised ‘weight loss journey’ made up of exercises and meal plans. Tips, videos, a water tracker, daily progress charts and the obligatory motivational notifications help you perfect your technique and stay on top of how you’re reaching your goal.

Features and benefits

  • Personalised and targeted exercise plans.

  • Over 1,500 recipes to choose from.

  • Daily tips and articles from the leading professionals with a personal coach there to guide you along your journey.

Will it break the bank?

Free to download from both Apple and Google Play, BetterMe does require the purchase of a subscription before you can actually use the app. $27.99/month, $64.99/quarter and $81.99/year plans are available.

9. Muscle Booster Workout Planner 

Spot me, bro! For the guys out there looking for something tailored to them, Muscle Booster Workout Planner could be an option for your next training bromance. Claiming to be a ‘substitute’ to a personal trainer, Muscle Booster says its smart training algorithm assists in finding a tailored exercise regime for users based on the goals and areas of the body that they want to strengthen.

Features and benefits 

  • Weekly updates to your workout plan.

  • Access to a library with over 200 exercises.

Will it break the bank?

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 only available via the Apple store.

10. SWEAT: Kayla Itsines Fitness

Something for the girls now. SWEAT: Kayla Itsine Fitness was designed with the goal of making women feel strong and confident. The app offers multiple programs, created and hosted by well-known personal trainers and fitness/health influencers, that are aimed at specific areas such as getting a perfect summer body, post baby or maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Workouts can be completed in sessions as short as 28 minutes, according to the app.

Features and benefits 

  • Workout regimes for both at-home and in-the-gym.

  • Meal plans specialised around dietary requirements.

  • Over 300 pages of educational content.

Will it break the bank?

It’s free to download on Apple and Google Play. but SWEAT: Kayla Itsines fitness does require a subscription to use any of the app’s services. The two options available are $19.99/month, which includes a free seven-day free trial, and $119.99/year.

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 fitness expert make of workout apps?

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

Former Miss World Australia, now personal trainer and nutrition consultant, Tess Alexander, worries that they may actually be a hindrance for beginners who aren’t sure how to perform the exercises correctly.

“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.”

Cover image: ezphoto (Shutterstock)

 

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