Your phone is more than just a gateway to Instagram, Twitter and Reddit. With the right entourage of fitness apps, you can turn this device from a distraction into one of the most powerful workout tools at your disposal.
Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. Our team tested the latest and greatest digital offerings to find 11 worth snagging off the app store.
1. adidas Runtastic
Best For: Going faster (with a purpose)
Whether it’s your first foray onto the tarmac or you’re a veteran runner, this app will help you track your workouts to give you a clear view of your progress at every turn. The free version will let you record workouts and review your stats. Plus, you’ll be able to join daily challenges that can help stoke the gees even when you’re not feeling it.
However, it might be worth splashing on a premium membership—especially if you’re getting serious. This paid subscription will arm you a slew of stat-collecting and training features. For instance, you can elevate your runs with a guided interval training programme, or stay on track with workout goals.
The premium version also gives you access to added features with adidas’ companion Training app. We’re fans of the 12-week transformation plan that speaks directly to our MH sensibilities.
2. Asana Rebel App
Best For: Leaving no stone unturned in your quest for total-body health and fitness.
A holistic approach to fitness doesn’t mean B-lining for the weights area. This app seeks to revamp your lifestyle with programmes tailored to your body type, fitness goals, and almost every other area of your life.
The workouts are yoga-inspired, so you can expect to stretch, breathe, and tap into that inner place of zen as you stride towards your health aspirations. While a subscription will set you back around R750 per year, we’d say you get a lot for what ultimately costs less than a fancy dinner.
When you launch the app, you’ll be asked to answer a host of questions about your lifestyle.This gives the app a window into your fitness levels, and allows it to curate a training plan that won’t string you out. Then, you’ll punch in a weekly goal and it’s ready to start your plan.
On the “today” screen you’ll be given a list of recommendations of workouts and challenges. This page will also provide you with recipes (based on your dietary needs) and a few meditations to help you relax. But that’s just the start: the “explore” tab will let you go off the beaten path to find a range of exercises, challenges, sleep hacks and nutrition advice to help get you healthier.
For example, you can enlist in a 28-day yoga workout challenge which will push you to net daily sessions and reap the rewards of mastering this ancient practice. Under the sleep section, you’ll find relaxing music and meditations that will help you snag more shuteye.
Best For: Tracking your runs and crunching the numbers.
Strava has become the go-to platform for cardio fanatics looking to map out trails, log their routes and connect with likeminded converts. Over the years, the app has packed on features like a gym bro slathering on muscle, turning Strava into one of the most powerful trackers available. Best part? Even the most powerful features of this app are entirely free.
Strava now supports more than 30 different types of sport, including running, cycling and even yoga. We’re fans of the app’s Active Journal, which lets you keep a diary of your activities and revisit old routes, times (you name it) at any point in time. If you like to crunch the numbers, Strava will provide you with a personalised analysis after every workout, giving you a bird’s eye view of all your hard work.
4. Ladder Strength Training
Best For: Saving time (and always having a plan).
You don’t need a PT for personalised training; apps like ladder will feed you daily workouts you can do on your own to net real results. That means you won’t be spending hours planning out your programme before you can hit the gym—Ladder (and its super qualified coaches) will take care of the logistics, you just have to workout a sweat.
Workouts are based on your training goals, and if you ever get stuck, PTs are still available to answer your questions one-on-one. Bonus: every move is accompanied by an easy to follow and in-ear coaching, so you won’t be stumped by some Russian lift that you can barely pronounce let alone complete.
Ladder Strength Training is only available on iOS
Best For: Slowly and methodically turning reps into muscle.
Five by five training programmes have been a staple for many gym goers for decades. These workouts require you to complete five sets of five reps of a variety of lifting mainstays (think: squats, deadlifts, overhead press). Each time you clock in at the gym, you’ll add just a bit more weight to each lift, giving you the type of steady progress that’ll eventually help you tap into real brawn.
The benefit? Stronglifts keep it simple so you’ll spend less time thinking and more time lifting. And now, Stronglifts has launched its own app that’ll help you keep track of your workouts. The app features templates for almost every variation of the 5×5 format, and also includes a range of videos to help you tweak your form.
Best For: Counting calories and losing weight.
Workouts are just one part of the transformation equation. The other vital element? Figuring out what to put on your plate. MyFitnessPal is a favourite with those looking to lose weight, maintain their current index or pack on muscle. The trick: the app features a database of thousands of foods, including Woolworths, Debonairs and McDonald’s, making it simple AF to figure out exactly how many calories—or how much fat—is in that last-minute ready meal.
But these calorie counting features are just the tip of the iceberg, the app also features weight loss programmes, macro recs, daily recipes and a steady stream of advice. The free version is generous, but once you’ve started using MyFitnessPal, there’s a good chance you’ll want to splurge on a paid subscription.
7. Nike Training Club
Best For: Keeping your workouts interesting.
Want an app that covers all the bases? This one leaves no stone unturned. Nike Training Club serves up more than 200 free workouts across a variety of different disciplines: strength, yoga, mobility and endurance. Sessions can be as short as five minutes (if you’re taking a small break from the WFH grind) to 50 minutes. The goal: get results for every second you spend sweating.
We like the cardio and HIIT offerings which are often condensed into small 10-minute bursts of exertion that are both testing and manageable. Not your speed? Switch to a slower gear with strength training sessions targeted at different body parts, like the 10-minute Quick Core Crush that will unearth those long-lost abs. There are even Yoga sessions for stretches on demand.
Best For: Beginners without a gym membership or access to training tools.
Newbies looking for a quick intro into the world of workouts are best served by Sworkit. This app makes it simple to find moves based on your fitness level and lets you schedule out your week with a few taps. Most workouts are customisable, and there’s a big emphasis on personalised health and fitness goals, so you’ll never lose sight of what you’re striving for. Best part? The workouts sidestep the need for equipment, so you can do most—if not all—of them from home.
9. TRX Training Club
Best For: Doing the most with the least amount of equipment.
TRX is a type of suspension training that leverages your body weight to help you build strength, tap into more flexibility, ramp up your core stability and improve your balance. You can grab this powerful training tool right HERE.
Once you’re armed (and ready to sweat) grab this app for workouts that will help you make the most of your new equipment. You’ll receive expert guidance across more than 800 different classes for around R110 per month. Or, you can opt in for All Access, which will net you a spot in any of the club’s daily live classes and let you replay any that you missed.
10. Map My Run
Best For: Going the distance (even when you’re heading into the unknown)
This simple (and free) app takes the guesswork out of your tarmac and trail sessions providing you with real-time audio coaching every step of the way. Your digital assistant will give you regular updates on your pace, elevation and distance, so you’ll know exactly when the sweet relief of that finish line is approaching.
11. Insight Timer
Best For: Quick meditation sessions from a sprawling library of guided practices.
Free apps often fail to deliver on any of their promises. They’re either riddled with ads or wall off most of their content behind massive paywalls. But Insight Timer bucks the trend to serve up a comprehensive intro to all things meditation.
The app offers guided sessions to tackle many of life’s challenges; whether it’s struggling to fall asleep, deal with stress or find some peace in the middle of the 9-to-5’s constant demands. With Insight Timer, just pop in your earphones, load up a session and embrace the good vibrations.