9 Of The Best Fitness Apps For People Who Are Too Cheap To Pay For A Gym

By Rosie Gregory
3rd Jun 2018

best fitness apps

These days, all it takes to turn your phone into a bona fide fitness coach is a double tap and swift download from the App Store. With the boom of digital fitness, there’s no shortage of fit-tech designed with the sole focus of helping you get active and sweaty. Whether you’re an endurance runner, testing out the waters with your first HIIT session or looking for new ways to get bendy on the mat, you can bet there’s a fitness app for that.

With so many fitness-based apps readily available on the market, we let our thumbs do the heavy scrolling to find the best exercise apps which will help get you moving.


The app that multi-tasks as hard as you do, there is seemingly no style of sweat this on-demand audio fitness platform doesn’t account for. Tallying over 2,500+ personal trainer led, music-driven workouts including running, cycling, stretch, yoga and strength formats, Aaptiv has an option for every fitness level, whether you’re tackling your first 5k or a seasoned fitness freak. The biggest win though? Playlists, with music that you actually want to workout to, mixed with instructional audio cues, timed and paced to the duration and intensity of your workout. The class library updates each week in the premium service to help you skip the dreaded plateau that often comes with (ultimately boring) repetition. No WIFI? No problems; you can download workouts in offline mode and sweat it out, analogue style.

Cost: USD $14.99 per month


Hailing from the social media fitness phenomena that is Kayla Itsines comes the female-focused workout app, SWEAT. Levelling up from the cult-classic Bikini Body Guides (which let’s be honest are now ratty, crumbled PDFs at the bottom of your gym bag) Itsines teamed up with fellow influencers Kelsey Wells and Sjana Elise to launch SWEAT. With an aim to encourage women to take a well-rounded approach of addressing fitness, nutrition and recovery in their training, this app includes post-natal, resistance training (including BBG Stronger) and yoga workout guides alongside the traditional 28-minute HIIT formats. Ultimately, the fitness-focused app is designed to help you achieve one of the total body transformations the bikini body founder is famed for. With detailed 36-week programs and capabilities to track your progress (including the staple check-in photos) alongside meal plans and a supermarket shopping guide, you’ll have all the tools and inspiration you need at a single tap into this app.

Cost: $19.99 per month 


Strava is the app of choice for the serious outdoor athlete. Known for its popular social network, a global community of runners and cyclists exists within the app which enables you to follow races and workouts, join groups, find new routes or even compete with your fellow outdoor aficionados. This fit-app is home to the world’s largest route and trail resource, plus it has the capability to track and analyse every aspect of your activity, breaking down all the stats outdoor athletes crave, with distance, pace, speed, elevation and calorie output all tracked for sophisticated performance measurement. Beyond the free model, the premium subscription also features personalised coaching plans, live performance feedback and more detailed analysis post-workout.

Cost: $10.50 per month

Keep It Cleaner

Founded by beach babe Aussie models, Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw, Keep It Cleaner (that's KIC to the cool kids) is the fitness app that focuses on getting you strong, healthy and happy. With the holistic health focus you’ll find a balanced mix of bikini-body inspired workouts, boxing sessions and guided runs, alongside daily eating plans, with vegetarian and gluten-free options, that the girls follow themselves. But it’s not just all physical, KIC also includes a library of quick meditations and sleep visualisations to keep you grounded and promote nourishing recovery practices. Following on from the duos astounding social influence, the KIC network has amassed a huge following within its private community, which provides users with a space to receive motivation and check-ins from the girls to help them keep on track and reach their fitness goals.

Cost: $19.50 per month

My Fitness Pal

The OG of nutrition trackers, My Fitness Pal is the fitness app that acts as your in-pocket food journal. Whether you are seriously tracking your energy input for a specific goal, or just enjoy checking the balance of macronutrients you are hitting each day, My Fitness Pal helps you create a digital food diary, while churning out analytics based off your dietary intake. The app holds an expansive database of food sources, for a more convenient meal log, including a nifty feature which helps you create your own meal just the once, for subsequent repeated entries, ideal for those meal prep champs. With a basic fitness tracker included to help you equate the balance of energy in and energy out, the app can be powered up to sync to external fitness tracking apps for more detailed analysis.

Cost: Free for the basic model or USD $49.99 per month for a premium subscription with detailed nutritional insight


If you’ve ever scrolled through your Insta questioning just how that influencer got such a photo-worthy rig, now you can get their exact workouts, or shall we say playbook, in this socially driven app. Playbook acts as a mobile marketplace for trainers, athletes and influencers alike to share their real-time workouts. With a generous variety across skill, style and intensity, you simply find then follow your fave fitspo (note it's currently still predominately US-based personalities) on their personal channels and get sweating. Alongside joining in on their freshest workouts, you can also engage directly with the trainer for personalised advice and some motivation boosting community engagement. There’s free access for selected sample workouts so you can try before you buy, or upgrade to premium for full access and unlimited content.

Cost: USD $9.99 per month


If it’s specific goals you’re chasing, Sworkit has you covered. With custom level personalisation, this app helps you get going on your fitness journey by simply choosing an overall goal and set your current fitness level. You’ll then receive a specific six-week training program complete with daily mini-goals to keep you accountable, which can be further personalised to fit around your existing schedule. If sticking to a plan isn’t quite your thing, you can also choose one of the over 50 workout options, or custom build your own from the extensive exercise library. Each video workout has professional instruction and audio cues, with added assistance available via live-chats from the team of qualified personal trainers at Sworkit, so you can get the experience and benefits of a coach without the price-tag! 

Cost: 30 day free trial then USD $6.67 per month 


If you need a little extra motivation to Just Do It you can count on Nike. For runners (or wannabe runners) Nike Run Club tracks you clocking the KMs via GPS for detailed post-workout analysis and route tracking. There are options for coaching plans and/or audio feedback during your workout (there are even mindful runs with Andy from headspace). Or you can join the worldwide community for post-run feedback complete with a leaderboard for those who thrive on a little extra competition. The Nike+ Training Club features the international team of Nike Trainers who share their workout guides and training programs. With a variety of bodyweight or equipment based fitness workouts, plus a yoga series, the NTC app is ideal on the days when you need help to squeeze in a quick but sweaty workout. With detailed video tutorials, audio feedback and even in-app music syncing, the Nike training apps will help you feel better for it.

Cost: Free 


Knowing that not all training has to be physical and not all recovery must be muscular, Calm is the app that encourages the practice of mindfulness and meditation so you can hit the gym for your mind. The intuitive, interactive app incorporates guided meditations, breathing programs and guided sleep programs to help you unwind and de-stress for advanced recovery and restorative practice. Designed with many multi-levelled options, Calm is as ideal for beginners who can’t even begin to contemplate how they could sit still and “not think” for more than five minutes and more advanced meditation practitioners.

Cost: Free trial then USD $12.99 per month or $59.99 annually

Think you're fit? Why not add one of these epic marathons to your bucket list.

Image credit: Melody Jacob on Unsplash

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