Fitness apps are pieces of software for your phone that help you with everything from tracking your food to discovering new exercises. Many of these apps are personalizable, making them an excellent option for anyone looking to streamline their fitness experience.
Below, you’ll find the best fitness apps on the market, reviewed by our expert health panel.
8fit is one of the only apps that combines both workouts and meal planning. All plans are personalized, and the app provides a lot of guidance, making it an excellent choice for beginners.
The app takes into account many different considerations, such as how much you like to cook and how long you have to work out. Because of these features, it is our #1 pick.
This is a unique fitness app that allows you to stream live videos from any place you want to workout. Classes require everything from just a mat to free weights so that you can choose the perfect option for you.
Furthermore, there is a free trial you can try before you pay for the full app.
This app is all about motivation. It is hosted by the cheery Cassey Ho, who has a blog and YouTube channel as well. The app features workout videos of all sorts.
Practically the whole app is free, though there are some extra features you can purchase for 99 cents.
4. Fit Radio
For music-guided workouts, this is the best app to get. It allows you to create your music playlists for guided exercises.
There is a paid option as well as a free option for this app.
5. Fitbit Coach
Even if you don’t have a Fitbit, this app can be beneficial. It comes with lots of workout videos that you can stream from anywhere.
There is a premium option, as well as some free videos.
6. Johnson & Johnson Official 7-minute Workout
While it might seem strange for this company to have a workout app, it is quite good. It has lots of videos that are just 7-minutes long for a quick workout. Plus, it’s free!
There are many videos of varying intensity as well.
This app is more niche and focuses only on strength training, though you can technically design all kinds of workouts.
Jefit comes pre-loaded with routines and exercises depending on what muscle group you’re focusing on.
For high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you should get this app. It can sync with a heart rate monitor during each session for fine-tuned workouts.
While it comes with its routines, you can swap exercises depending on what you have at hand.
9. Map My Fitness
This app focuses on tracking your workouts and fitness goals. It lets you record practically any activity you do, including walking the dog.
The app itself is free, though you can upgrade for more features.
10. Mayo Clinic Diet
For help with your diet, this app by mayo clinic is excellent. It provides clear daily menus based on your weight and activity level.
If you need strict guidance, this app is excellent.
How We Ranked
Firstly, we looked at whether the app did what it focused on well. We didn’t penalize a diet app for not including exercise routines, for example. But we would knock them down if their diet suggestions weren’t accurate. Similarly, if an app focused on music like the Fit Radio app, we looked at how many music options it had and how intuitive it was to use. While most apps on the market only focus on one or two things, some do have quite a few features and can help you with your exercise and diet. When an app did both of these things well, we gave their rating a little boost. It isn’t every day that you find an app that can help you with both of these sides of fitness. Plus, when one app can do it all, it saves your money and your phone memory. This is why our #1 pick is 8fit. This app can do just about everything, and it does it quite well. If you’re looking for just a single app to help you on your fitness journey, this is the one to get.
Secondly, we also considered the cost. Some apps are very inexpensive and cost only a few dollars a month, while others will run you hundreds a year. Preferably, the more expensive apps should be worth the extra money – whether because they just work better or because they have additional features. When apps were costly but weren’t notably better than the free apps, we didn’t include them on our review list. Our goal is to help you save money by highlighting the most cost-effective apps available.
Thirdly, we also took free trials and features into account. Some apps have a free version with limited features and then a premium version you can purchase for extra features. If the free version was good enough to use on its own and not constricting, we ranked those apps higher. However, some apps had supposed “free trials” that were just a video or two for you to watch. We didn’t feel like this was enough for anyone to get a feel for the app before making their purchase, so we knocked those apps down a few places.
Finally, we also considered the overall functionality of the app. An app might have great diet plans, but if it has an impossible-to-use design, it isn’t going to be very helpful. All the apps on our top 10 fitness apps list are easy to use and performed well in this category.
Fitness apps can increase your motivation. According to some studies, motivation is the most critical factor that decides whether or not someone is going to stick with a fitness plan. In a medical setting where patients needed to change their lifestyle for medical reasons, their innate motivation was the most significant factor in their success or failure (1).
Many fitness apps come with features that can help improve your motivation. Sometimes, these features include blatantly encouraging videos and inspirational quotes. Other times, they add more subtle features, like alerts to workout or a constant stream of new material. Some apps even include social aspects, like competitions and regular rewards for completing fitness activities.
Fitness apps may help change your behavior. There has been some evidence that fitness apps might be able to help you improve your behavior towards a more fit lifestyle. This is because most apps use gamification (2). This is where apps use gaming elements to encourage you to exercise and continue to use them. Often, these elements include things like filling up meters when you complete certain activities, getting a score for hitting your goal, leveling up, and similar features.
Gamification has been used in behavioral modification therapy to improve behaviors. Often, gamification relies on instant rewards (i.e., you ran so now you instantly earn more points), which is often very helpful for improving your fitness level – which typically only has exceptionally far-off rewards.
Of course, because most fitness apps do not have board-certified therapist creating them, they use this gamification with varying degrees of success. Some are better than others, and currently, there is no real way to rate which apps use it better than others. Because of this, this benefit is a big maybe. Some might use it quite well, while others might not.
Fitness apps can summarize all your fitness data. When you’re new to the world of fitness, all the fitness data you’re producing can be overwhelming. On top of tracking things like exercise and which muscle groups you’ve trained, you also have to monitor your macronutrients, vitamins, stress, and the number of calories you’ve burned. Plus, you have to keep up with all these things proactively so you can plan your meals and your workouts. This can get very complicated, very quickly.
Fitness apps can help in this department by summarizing all your fitness information (3). When provided with your goals, many fitness apps can analyze your data, summarize them in an easy-to-read way, and suggest ways to help you meet your goals. These apps can also help you set new goals. They can provide all your fitness metrics in an easy-to-read way, allowing you to pick out the weak spots you need to work on.
Fitness apps are personalized. Almost every fitness app out there contains come customized elements. Whether it is a personalized diet suggestion or personal playlist you put together yourself, these customized features can be very helpful on your fitness journey (4). Everyone is on a different stage of their journey and needs something different from their apps. Trying to get lean is not the same as trying to lose fat, for instance.
Studies have also found that personalization was one of the most important factors that decided whether or not someone continued to use the app. This is true of all fitness apps, even those that did straightforward things like tracking the user’s heart rate.
Fitness apps have social accountability. As we have previously discussed, your innate motivation has a lot to do with whether or not you’ll stick to a workout program. However, social accountability is another crucial factor. There is a reason you should always tell others about your goals; if others know about it, you’ll feel compelled to do it because of social accountability.
Many apps include some sort of social accountability. Usually, they competitively do this. Many apps allow you to earn points or compete towards specific goals against other users of the app. These competitive features can help propel you to work harder (5).
Many apps also include some sort of social system where you can team up with people you know or perform workouts with friends. This also helps with social accountability. You’re more likely to stick to your exercise plan if you’ve already made plans for your friend to join you. Even exercise apps that use online videos often allow you to “workout” with friends.
Fitness apps are just as useful as real-world gym groups. Studies have shown that those who use fitness apps lose just as much weight as those who take part in regular exercise groups at the gym (6). However, fitness apps are often more accessible since you don’t have to leave your home to use them. They can also be used anywhere, which is a good option for those who travel. Plus, fitness apps can be much less expensive than classes or gym memberships.
Of course, this also depends on which app you use, so be sure you download one that is high-quality. We recommend any of those that we mentioned in our rankings section, depending on precisely what sort of app you’re looking for.
Fitness apps can replace human fitness trainers. In some cases, fitness apps might be able to replace real-world trainers (7). This is not always true, especially in situations where medical knowledge might be necessary. They can’t replace trainers in sports situations, for example. However, if you’re just trying to lose weight and have no adverse health conditions, you may be able to replace a regular fitness trainer with one of the apps we mentioned in our rankings section.
Personal trainers can be costly, so replacing them with an app is something to consider. While many apps are paid as well, they are often available for a fraction of the price as a real-world personal trainer. If you’re looking for an app to replace a personal trainer correctly, be sure to get one that can design exercise programs for you or help you work out your diet. You may need to invest in two different apps for these purposes.
Fitness apps do not replace your doctor. Many fitness apps provide health-related information. However, this information isn’t always correct. Most apps are not written or designed by doctors, which can lead to complications when they attempt to provide health advice to their users. It can be particularly troublesome because the fitness apps do not know of the user’s health problems or underlying conditions, which can make some of the advice unhelpful and potentially dangerous (8).
You should not allow a mobile app to replace your doctor and should take all health information with a grain of salt. Some apps are awesomely accurate, but others are not. It is hard to know which is which, so it is better to stay on the side of caution.
Fitness apps aren’t as social as some other options. While many apps do include some sort of social aspect, it is not the same as visiting the gym with a group of friends every day. While some people won’t miss this, others will, and it might negatively impact the chance of them continuing with their exercise program. Younger girls might be particularly vulnerable to this since they often thrive on the social and interactive elements of fitness (9).
This side effect can be diminished somewhat if the app is used alongside other fitness options, like a weekly gym class, for example. You can also encourage your friends to use the app, and many apps allow you to make a virtual exercise group keep up with your friends. If you enjoy the social side of fitness, consider getting an app with particular emphasis on these social elements.
Fitness apps aren’t always secure. There have been some worries regarding the data security of fitness and other health apps (10). Many fitness apps are not particularly reliable, which can allow others to gain access to your data quite quickly. Almost no apps use encryption to prevent hackers from gaining access to the user’s data.
Some apps also include surveys at the beginning, which are often to help personalize the app’s recommendations to you. However, some of the answers to these questions are shared with third-party sources, which allows them to use targeted advertising based on your personal information. One particular app this study looked at asked about the user’s health insurance and annual income – bits of information not necessary to personalize the in-app experience. These bits of information were likely being sold.
How often you should use the app depends on what exactly the app does. For those apps that rely on tracking for accurate recommendations, you should use them as much as possible and provide complete information to ensure that they are correct.
Exercise apps should be used multiple times a week, depending on your particular exercise schedule. It is always better to do low to moderate intensity workouts many times a week than high-intensity workouts only a couple times a week. Select workouts that you can complete without much difficulty that still get your heart rate up. This will increase the chance that you’ll stick with the app.
Missing one workout a week when you have five planned isn’t that big of a deal. However, missing one when you only workout twice a week is a big deal.
If the app helps keep track of your nutrition, you will have to track all your food on that app. Otherwise, it won’t be very accurate or be able to make appropriate suggestions.
For other apps we haven’t mentioned, it depends on how much you want to use it. We do recommend always making a plan for your fitness app usage – like getting on every evening at 7 or doing an exercise every other day. Without a plan, you’re less likely actually to get on the app and use it. You should plan for using the app more often than you actually need. That way, if you have to skip a session for whatever reason, you don’t get completely off track, which can make you give up on the app.
Which fitness app is best? It depends precisely on what you’re looking for. If you have something specific in mind, we recommend heading to our rankings section and take a look at some of the apps we mentioned there. They are all very good apps, but are all good at different things. Alternatively, if you’re just looking for a single app that does a bunch of stuff, we recommend the 8fit app.
This app can take care of your workouts and meal planning, which are often the two most significant parts of fitness. It is decently inexpensive as well, especially for the number of features it has. It effectively takes the place of two different apps.
Do fitness apps work? The answer to this question depends on the particular app. As we’ve previously discussed, many apps feature gamification and social aspects to increase the user’s motivation and the likelihood that they’ll stick with the app. Of course, different apps use these features with varying degrees of success. Most apps do not have a professional psychologist working on them, so they don’t always use sound principles for increasing motivation. It is also very hard to tell if they increase motivation before you purchase them and start using them regularly. Different apps have different effects on people. You won’t know what works until you try them.
With that said, many apps are quite good at what they do as long as you keep using them. Most provide personalized suggestions and help you accurately keep track of your workout and diet. Those that offer workout videos often include high-quality exercises as well as well-integrated social features. The odds of an app working, though, depends on how much you use it!
Do at-home workouts on fitness apps actually work? Yes, as long as you stick to them! It is often easier to skip an at-home workout than one at the gym, mainly because of the social aspect. People will know if you skip the gym, but they won’t know if you skip an at-home workout. Fitness apps have been solving this problem by adding social features, like a point system. That way, your friends on the app will know if you skip your workout at home. However, this relies on your real-world friends using the app as well, which isn’t always the case.
As long as you use the app regularly, though, they do work. Many apps have high-quality exercise videos and live workouts for you to take advantage of. Some even personalize the workouts to suit you and your goals better.
What is the best HIIT workout fitness app? HIIT has become increasingly popular over the years thanks to its ability to get results in a short amount of time. It can be challenging to do HIIT without an app, though, it can be challenging to perform this sort of exercise correctly since it relies on accurate timing.
There are quite a few apps on the app store that specialize in just HIIT because of this. The best one we found was Keelo. This app comes with a free trial, so you can try it out before you purchase it. It is focused on strength-based HIIT workouts, though it can be used for cardio as well with a few adjustments. It can help you gain stamina and endurance, as well as measurably reduce your weight if that’s your goal. Compared to other apps, it is also quite inexpensive and comes with high-quality exercise videos.
What is the best home workout fitness app? If you’re okay with getting an app that does more than just track your workout, we recommend our #1 pick, 8fit. This app can track your workout and provide you with exercise suggestions while also keeping up with your diet.
If you’re looking for a workout-only app for whatever reason, we recommend Forte. This app allows you to livestream various workouts from around the world in the comfort of your home or wherever you happen to be. The videos are some of the most high-quality on the market and, therefore, many to choose from. It is by far the best workout video app out there.
Is the Fitbit coach fitness app worth it? Fitbit coach works best for those with a Fitbit tracker of some sort. However, we were so impressed with the app that we included in our top 10 list. Even if you don’t have a Fitbit watch, this app can be helpful. It has high-quality videos to help you workout at home.
Of course, you may want to consider getting the app and a Fitbit tracker, since they’re made to work together. In this case, we do have a review article on Fitbits as well that you can take a look at. All Fitbits are made well, but you may find some better for your goals than others.
What is the best free fitness app? Sadly, you usually get what you pay for when it comes to fitness apps. With that said, the best free app we reviewed is Blogilates. This app is almost entirely free, though some videos cost money to watch. Even these videos are incredibly cheap, though – often less than a dollar. This app is all about motivation and is aimed at a more female audience. However, most of the workout videos themselves are entirely suitable for both sexes. The motivational side of the app usually assumes you’re female, however.
Many of the apps we featured in our rankings section do include a free trial or have a basic free version. We recommend trying out these free trials before purchasing the app itself just to make sure it is something you’re interested in.
Do I need the Fitbit coach fitness app if I have a Fitbit? Not necessarily, but we highly recommend it. There is a basic Fitbit coach version that you can use. However, the premium version comes with quite a few extra features most people will find helpful. The extra subscription comes with programs, plus information about your sleep, all Fitbit Coach features, and additional insights based on your data. All these features are included for a bundled price, and you can not purchase them separately.
Most of Fitbit premium is focused on providing personalized advice based on the information your fitness tracker tells it. If you already have a Fitbit watch of some sort, your best bet is to invest in the Fitbit premium app, since that is one of the few apps the tracker can sync with.
How much does the 8fit fitness app cost? At the time of this article’s publication, the 8fit app costs $60 per year for the pro plan. There is a free option available for those that aren’t interested in customized meal plans. However, if you’re looking to get the most out of the app, we recommend purchasing the inexpensive premium plan for some extra personalized advice.
You can also purchase the pro plan for $25 every three months. However, it is cheaper to go ahead and buy it for the whole year.
Is the 8fit fitness app any good? Out of all the apps we reviewed, 8fit was by far the best. It has the unique feature of providing customized meal plans and workout plans. There are very few apps that can tackle both of these fitness areas, and none of them do as good of a job as 8fit.
Furthermore, most apps are much more expensive than 8fit. If you were to purchase a different app for meal tracking and another app to help with your workouts, you would be paying way more than if you just used 8fit to do both. This is a significant reason why it was our #1 pick.
What is the best fitness music app for working out? By far, the best music app we reviewed for working out is Fit Music. This app allows you to create a customized playlist that syncs with your workout. You can use this to set up a HIIT workout or any other sort of circuit that works on a time-sensitive basis. Instead of looking down at your timer or continuously setting alarms, all you have to do is set up your music to change songs whenever you need to switch activities.
This unique app is a wonderful addition to anyone’s workout routine. You really can’t beat it with any other app on the market.
What fitness app is best for gym workouts? It depends on what you do during your gym workout. If you need help timing your circuit, try Fit Music. For all other purposes, 8fit is probably your best option. It can provide you with a personalized exercise plan and help you keep track of your meals as well. This app is the best option for an all-around fitness app, especially if you don’t need at-home exercise videos.
There are tons of fitness apps out there to help you do all sorts of things – from tracking your workout to planning your meals. You can use fitness apps to help you on every leg of your journey and keep track of your basic fitness metrics. Many apps rely on you to input your information into your system, though some others connect with other fitness tracking devices to recover this information. Often, it is in your best interest to use more than one app, which allows you to keep up with various parts of your fitness journey.
Choosing the best app largely involves figuring out what you want the app to do. A dietary app is not going to help you with workouts, for example. Taking the time to do the right research can help you select the perfect app for your situation and preference.
For FitBug’s #1 recommended fitness app, click here.