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Staying at home doesn’t mean you can’t be active. Being in a one-bedroom NYC apartment, which started as a challenge, has changed into an opportunity. Now I don’t have to travel for workouts – they can be done on my own time. There’s no sense of embarrassment if I want to try something new, whether that be silly dance moves or advanced yoga poses that I will most likely fall out of. All things considered, in this situation I am having fun discovering new ways to work out at home for free.
After the stay at home mandate is lifted I will likely be keeping some at-home workouts in my normal routine since they are so convenient. There are some are very good quality classes available online now that make you feel like you are in the studio. Here are some of the best home workout apps and studio classes I’ve found. Many of these have free trials or have free options, so I encourage you to give them a try.
Best All Around Workout Apps
Full transparency, being in NYC I am used to either expensive studio classes, the gym, or running outside. At one point I was doing all of these simultaneously and loved every second of it (although my wallet not so much). So, what is the equivalent of having all of those options in one place? Here are three “well rounded” apps that I would recommend that can provide you with all types of workouts:
Best for audio guided and coached workouts: Aaptiv
Aaptiv is the holy grail of “all-around” workout apps, it has more or less everything you could want to do. Indoor and outdoor running, training plans, cycling, stretching, yoga, pilates, strength, meditation – the list goes on. They release a ton of new classes a week (according to them around 30+) so there are always new classes to try.
Aaptiv is primarily an audio-based app. If you’re the type that loves to exercise outside, or inside while looking out a beautiful window, or you don’t have access to a TV or large screen in your workout area, this app is for you. For some classes, such as strength, there is the option to have visual cues so you can see clearly what the move is.
Music and coaching are the two fundamentals of Aaptiv. Music plays a critical role in a workout and they offer a variety of options. There is something for everybody. Aaptiv is offering a free trial membership so give it a try and see if you can find any classes that resonate with you and your at-home workout.
Best for well produced video workouts: Peloton
Peloton isn’t just that fancy spin bike you’ve seen in commercials. Although technically also a studio, they have such a comprehensive app that I feel they fit better with the app category.
Peloton has two studios in NYC, one for spinning and the other for treadmill, strength, and other classes. Their app provides high quality, well-produced, and easily searchable class videos. There are a variety of classes available besides spinning. Running (indoor and outdoor), strength, yoga, meditation, etc. are all available. I dare say the app is so buttoned-up if you are looking for the more down to earth feel of some studios you won’t find it here – their classes are like watching a well-made and choreographed workout class.
The app’s integration with the apple watch is fantastic. The watch interface measures your heart rate during class and provides what section of the class you are in (warm-up, main, etc.). All of this data is integrated into the Peloton app so you can see what heart rate zones you hit and how many recent classes you’ve taken across all their offerings.
Unfortunately I’ve run into some issues where the app pauses and buffers. One time I got disconnected. It’s possibly due to the volume of users since they are now offering a free trial of their app. That being said it’s still worth downloading their app on your phone, clicking a class you’re interested in and starting their free trial to give it a try.
Best for cross training specific muscle groups: Nike Training Club
Normally a paid subscription of $14.99 is needed for Nike Training Club premium offerings, but they are offering free access to their classes while most people are staying home. The variety of workouts is a little more narrow, offering primarily strength and yoga workouts. However, there are filters by equipment, level of intensity, and muscle group which makes finding the workout you’re in the mood for very easy.
The app also has extensive training plans. If you are a runner, make sure to have both the Nike Run Club app (NRC) in addition to the Nike Training Club app (NTC). These are “sibling” apps and perfectly complement each other. The NRC app provides running training plans, and the NTC provides cross-training workouts.
Best Online Studio Classes
I am a believer in studio classes. They can push you harder and make working out more social. In particular, live classes bring the social aspect that a lot of us are missing at home. Often times you can either see or message other class attendees, or interact directly with the instructor. With studios temporarily closed, many are now offering a wide variety of online classes.
Best for Yoga: Modo Yoga NYC (free options) or Woom Center (“pay as you can” heavily reduced pricing)
Someone once told me if you find a yoga studio you love, never leave. They were right. Modo Yoga NYC is a hot yoga studio with the most down to earth and personable instructors who perfectly balance a good workout with a positive mental presence without being overbearing. The studio is offering two types of classes: Instagram live classes (donation-based), and youtube scheduled classes (paid, $8 per a drop-in). No need to do them in a hot room, either. They are also offering meditation classes which I’ve found to be extremely helpful. Check out their schedule on their Instagram account ModoYogaNYC.
Woom Center is the most innovative and unique yoga studio I’ve been to. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though. The flows in the class are very advanced, and every class has a meditation aspect (usually blindfolded). Their classes are available through their website or Mindbody app and run about $18 a class. They were offering free classes, however, have adjusted their pricing if you are strained financially. Their “pay as can” classes are as little as $5. Classes are held on Zoom and they recommend watching the class on one system (such as your laptop) and playing music through another system (such as your phone) with one earbud in. It is extremely immersive and creative; give it a try if you are open to new and different yoga experiences.
Best for Cardio (or Dance): 305 Fitness
I’m not a dance person. I’m not much of a cardio person either, except for running. Thankfully 305 Fitness, a cardio dance studio with the motto “Dance Like No One’s Watching” is now airing live classes for free on youtube. Now I actually can dance with no one watching. You can also re-watch old workouts if you aren’t available at the time they are live. I’m not sure if I would have ever taken this class in person, but at home it is the perfect time to try these classes if you haven’t already.
Their instructors seem super genuine and thrilled to be teaching. The classes are being broadcast out of their houses, and it’s so relatable. The music is energetic, the moves are fast, and you will sweat in no time. It’s a great workout – my heart rate was similar to some of my runs. Best of all, in your own home you can be totally comfortable to do all the crazy moves, and there will be a few. Subscribe to their youtube channel for free and give their classes a try.
Best for Strength: Fhitting Room
(Honorable Mention: No free trial, but available on Classpass)
Fhitting Room is a studio based out of NYC that deserves a shout out for having the most motivating but challenging instructors. This is a delicate balance that is hard to come by for strength classes. While we want to be motivated, we also don’t want to be yelled at. The instructors will push you, and you are guaranteed to leave their class feeling accomplished (and probably sore).
Their classes are being run on Zoom and have different options such as body weight only, or with certain equipment. Each live class is $20 or they are also available through Classpass credits. If you are a healthcare worker you are eligible to sign up for one weekly class (thank you for your service!). I recommend emailing them for more information. If you are looking for a fantastic strength class, particularly if you have some equipment at home and want to push yourself, give this class a try.
Those are my top picks for at-home workouts, but running outside is always an option (make sure to maintain a safe distance). You can view my tips for making running more fun here.
Be kind to yourself. In these challenging times you shouldn’t expect to follow your old workout routine. On the days you are feeling up to it, give one of these apps or classes a try, and remember that movement can sometimes turn your day around.