Real moms test exercise apps to see if they can get you in shape without breaking the bank.
When every single second of your day counts, skipping the gym in favor of a customized at-home workout could be a smart strategy. But how effective are these apps? Real working moms give them a spin.
Cost: A personalized workout plan is $89.99 per year, $29.99 for three months or $11.99 a month.
About: Using the HIIT ( high-intensity interval training) method, Keelo allows you to choose workouts for every day of the week. Through prerecorded videos, certified trainers show how to do the moves, and you can adapt the length of your workout, starting at as little as seven minutes. Some exercise options assume you have equipment such as kettlebells and pull-up bars readily available; toggling the “no equipment” option is key if you don’t.
“I just had a baby four months ago, and initially, I was a little bit intimidated by the ‘serious workout people’ images. There was a bit of a learning curve. While I’m familiar with basics like squats and lunges, customized moves like ‘mongoose’ and ‘shockwave’ were confusing. It was definitely a good workout, and I was sore the next day. Ultimately, I feel like it would be a good app to use at the gym, where you have all the equipment you need.” —Makena Cahill, director of strategy, Boston, MA
aaptiv.com Cost: A 30-day free trial option; after that, it’s $14.99 a month, or $99.99 a year. About: An audio-based app combining playlists and trainer-led workouts, Aaptiv guides users through more than 40 new classes each week, with areas of concentration including outdoor running, strength training, yoga and indoor cycling. The app offers monthly challenges, as well as specific training programs for 5Ks, 10Ks and marathons. Your trainer will tell you to pick up the pace or glide into downward dog as you listen to curated playlists. Because the app has no visuals, it’s best for people who are already familiar with basic cardio moves and proper strength form.
“I’ve been a runner for a long time, but my motivation has stalled since I had my son nearly two years ago. I found the programs motivating and easy to follow, and I also appreciated the playlists for each workout. I did several tempo runs that pushed me a lot faster than usual. The workout can be downloaded in advance, which is great when you’re heading into an area with iffy reception. I liked that there are five-minute runs, runs with strollers, and options if you’re pregnant. I don’t have a gym membership right now, so this was perfect for me. It was fun, and I was a sweaty mess at the end of 30 minutes. I’ll definitely keep using it!” —Karlyn Nelson, Realtor, Los Angeles, CA
Cost: A one-month free trial option, then a $29.99 three-month subscription, or $79.99 yearly subscription.
About: Based on your fitness level, target zones (think legs, arms or core) and time available, Sworkit offers equipmentfree workouts with specialized strength and cardio moves demo’ed by personal trainers via prerecorded video clips. The data in the app can be synced to other health apps such as Google Fit and My Fitness Pal, and favorite playlists can be saved and archived to try again. The app also has an extension called Sworkit Kids, with kid-friendly exercises (think “crab crawl” and “tightrope walking”) that can easily be done by parents too for a fun way to simultaneously work up a sweat and spend time together. For moms seriously crunched for time, a five-minute option, which offers strength and cardio in 30-second chunks, can help you stick to your fitness goals. Finally, a “talk to trainer” option allows you to troubleshoot or ask questions in real time.
“I love working out and prefer doing it with friends, but an app is great for when I’m short on time. This one was pretty intuitive, and I loved that it didn’t require a huge learning curve. But the voice was monotone, and it wasn’t incredibly motivating. Honestly, the only way I could finish the full workout was by taking advantage of the option to listen to my own music at the same time. I liked that I could log my workouts, but once it didn’t work, which was frustrating. I did get sweaty, so this app could definitely work in a pinch. —Kambri Kretschmer, data analyst, San Angelo, TX
andlife.com Cost: A seven-day free trial option, followed by $9.99 a month or $99 a year. About: Combining workout options with a meal tracker and recipe builder, this all-in-one app is designed to help you move more and eat better. Created by fitness expert and entrepreneur Andrea Marcellus, mini workouts—which can be done in the office, during meal prep or even on an airplane —are offered alongside longer, 30- to 45-minute strength and cardio sessions, all led and demo’ed by Marcellus herself. Unlike other apps, this one also includes step-by-step recipe videos and generates recipe ideas based on inputting favorite ingredients. And if you’re a mom motivated by peer pressure, the app allows you to invite up to three friends to take a virtual class in real time.
“I loved that I could customize my workout by the amount of time I had, which, to be honest, is usually very little. The app could be a bit glitchy—it sometimes previewed an exercise that then wouldn’t play, leaving me scrambling. I got a glisten by the end of each routine, which proves it made me work, but it probably wouldn’t replace a good barre class for me. The meal-planning aspect was a plus—I liked the salad recipes I made—but I felt like I was limited by the number of foods I could add to ‘build’ each meal. All in all, though, this is a solid fitness app.” —Ugochi Auchinleck, lawyer, Philadelphia, PA