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10 best fitness apps for every workout, from yoga to running

Whether you’re an expert or beginner, there’s a platform for everyone in our tried and tested run-down

Liz Dodd
Thursday 29 April 2021 15:45 BST
<p>There are dozens of apps on the market to help you start – or continue – working out at home</p>

There are dozens of apps on the market to help you start – or continue – working out at home

With more of us working from home than ever, we’re finding more time in our days to dedicate to fitness. To meet this growing demand for exercise sessions without the expensive gym fees, the at-home workout revolution has produced a wealth of apps designed to amp up or inspire your routine.

From yoga to running, kettlebells to spin, and even WWF-style “bro’ga”, there’s an app here to suit every style of workout. We tested a variety of apps to get down to this shortlist, using reviewers of all fitness levels and ages – from workout gurus with home gyms to mid-morning power walkers.

As well as variety, excellent instruction and safety, we looked for apps that offered something significantly better than what you can get for free online. Because most of these apps have a subscription cost, we looked for measurable added value: plenty of subscriber-only content, bespoke personal-trainer style programmes, and online communities.

The apps broke down into two groups: workout libraries, great if you have some experience in a gym and want to manage your own fitness, and programme-led apps that curate classes for you. This last type – epitomised by Chris Hemsworth’s CENTR app – are more like a personal trainer in your pocket, include nutrition guidelines, and tend to be more expensive.

The other apps we tested tended either to be sport specific – we looked for a good range across running, yoga and cycling – or, like the Nike and Peloton apps, offer a little bit of everything.

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One issue we ran into while testing was the level of knowledge and ability that some apps assumed, even at the beginner level. If jumping, squatting or swinging a kettlebell is out of the question for you, or if running or yoga feels intimidating, there are still plenty of options. We’ve deliberately included apps here for absolute fitness beginners – Couch to 5k, for example, as well as programs targeted at people with injuries or limited mobility – DDP Yoga and Sworkit are excellent for this.

Finally, we wanted to include something for exhausted parents and carers: a number of these apps have child-friendly offerings, like Sworkit. But Cosmic Kids Yoga is a real gem: at the very least, you’ll get to lie down for a couple of minutes at the end.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best fitness apps for 2021 are:

Zombies Run

Zombies run app IndyBest.png

Best: For fun

We can’t promise this will happen to you, but our reviewer ran her first ten mile-r using the original incarnation of this app – and didn’t even notice. Over a decade on, Zombies Run has a cult following, and it’s extremely well deserved: it gamifies running, with each run corresponding to an episode of the series.

The plot is great, the voice acting fantastic, and the clever interweaving of interval training (sprinting when the zombies are behind you) is transformative. There’s a world of bonus content to explore – training programmes for 5 and 10k races, community competitions, and base-building, but the 400+ missions themselves will keep you occupied for quite a while.

The game is very immersive, so if you’re running on roads or at night make sure you can still hear the traffic and you’re visible.

Download for iOS £14.99 per year,

Download for Android £14.99 per year,

  1. £14 from Zombies Run
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Fitness apps

Peloton’s luxe spin bike is still way out of our price range, but its app is a brilliant substitute, with a good variety of workouts that will challenge even experienced lifters and spinners. If you want to try something new and fun, give DDP Yoga a shot – its classes range from stretches you can do in bed to strength-based yoga that left our toughest reviewer aching for days.

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