Health; it’s never been more important. As we roll into the third year of a pandemic, our workouts and exercise regimes remain a precious, important outlet — the key to remaining both physically and mentally fit and strong. And, thanks to new technologies and advancements in fitness gear, we’ve never had access to better workout kit.
It’s also never been easier to find advice tailored to our specific needs – whether that be generally fitness-related, or more specifically focused on nutrition, mindfulness or a particular sport. But, with so many fitness apps available, it can be difficult to find the right digital trainer, app-based workout plan or virtual coach for you.
So we’ve rounded up six of the finest health apps out there. From a Hollywood-endorsed one-stop-shop for fitness to an NHS-backed app to ease you into running, there’s something for everyone…
The all-rounder: Centr
Did you see Extraction on Netflix? How about the latest Avengers film? If you did, Chris Hemsworth’s biceps likely had you feeling bad about your own. Luckily, the actor himself has founded Centr — an app chock full of fitness, nutrition and mindfulness advice from the training team that whips him into shape for roles.
There are HIIT, yoga, boxing and MMA workouts from Hemsworth’s team of specialist personal trainers — including his stunt double Bobby Holland Hanton — dietician-approved recipes, shopping lists and meal plans from chefs such as Darren Robertson, plus guided meditations, stress-relieving techniques, confidence boosting strategies and sleep visualisations to support your mental health. You’ll be feeling like a superhero in no time. (Free, in-app purchases).
The quick one: Seven
Seven’s tailor-made workouts may be based on cutting-edge scientific theory, but the design of the thing is as colourful, simple and inviting as apps come. It looks like one of those games where you switch sweets around, or grow your own little farm. But it has benefits beyond how ‘happy’ it looks; and is brimming with tried, tested and time-saving fitness tips.
The aim here is to provide the maximum physical benefit to you in the shortest time possible. That means the majority of the workouts can be done at anytime, anywhere and with no equipment. Add to that achievement badges, custom workouts, a choice of motivational instructors and the chance to compete with friends, and you’ve got one of the most appealing apps for busy modern men on the market. (Free, in-app purchases).
The high-end one: FiiT
‘Bring the gym home’, reads the tagline of FiiT. But, despite being one of the highest-end fitness apps available, it’ll still save you money compared to a real gym subscription. And, arguably, it’s better than having to shlep off to a sweatbox every morning. With hundreds of interactive classes, it’s like ‘Masterclass’ but for fitness — and can teach you the sweat-breaking, heart-racing ways of everything from pilates and yoga to circuits and strength training.
Perhaps the best feature is how well FiiT can pair and work with a whole host of fitness trackers. It supports not only the big players in the wearable game (Apple, Samsung, Whoop), but also 27 other lesser-known gadgets and tracking gizmos — so you’ll feel supported every step, rep, beat and calorie of the way. (£10 per month).
The yoga one: Daily Yoga
True, it might not have the same high-intensity appeal or muscle-building benefits of some of the other apps on this list, but Daily Yoga will do wonders for your wellness. Like breathwork and meditation (keep scrolling for another of our mindful favourites), yoga is key to mental health, and this free-to-download app consulted with twenty yoga masters around the world to create sessions for everything from weight loss to better sleep.
There are over 500 asanas, 70 yoga programs and 500 guided yoga sessions — as well as pilates, meditation and the largest yoga pose library for men. And, if you’re struggling with the choice, the handy ‘Smart Coach’ function allows you to set six targets and be steered in the direction of the classes and courses perfect for you. (Free, in-app purchases).
The diet one: MyFitnessPal
Confident in your workout regime but still struggling to shift those last few pounds? Chances are your diet just needs a little work. At its most basic, MyFitnessPal is a calorie tracker and food journal and, if nothing else, will make you aware exactly what you’re putting in to your body and where those extra calories are coming from.
However, should you choose, MyFitnessPal can also help you manage your weight loss by calculating the number of calories you should be eating each day (not everyone should be consuming the average 2,500-a-day). It also accounts for calorie deficits from exercise and can help you create balanced meal plans by tracking the ratio of macro and micro nutrients you’re eating. It’s like having a nutritionist in your pocket at all times. (Free, in-app purchases).
The wellness one: Calm
A former ‘App of the Year’, Calm is currently the number one download for sleep and meditation with over 50 million installs and 700,000 five-star reviews — which should tell you something about how effective it is. Offering a full wellbeing programme, created by mindfulness expert Tamara Levitt, Calm aims to make you the most relaxed version of yourself possible.
There are guided meditations, audio mindfulness masterclasses, breathing exercises, low-intensity stretching workouts, playlists to help you focus — and even bedtime stories to send you off to sleep read by past Gentleman’s Journal cover star Matthew McConaughey. Imagine a soothing cup of camomile tea, but in app form. (Free, in-app purchases).
The fitness one: Nike Training Club
Maybe taking a break from the gym is just what you need. For once, you won’t be faced with all of those intimidating, complex machines — spoilt for choice and with no idea where to start. Nike Training Club can help. Completely free to use, the app hosts more the 190 workouts devised by the brand’s Master Trainers, as well as athletes including Simone Biles, Cristiano Ronaldo and Rory McIlroy, split into Strength, Endurance, Yoga and Mobility categories to help you find the right ones for you.
And yes, there are equipment-based workouts — but you can also go gear-free; and devise a series of 4-6 week training plans based on your goals, activity levels and the amount of time you can devote to working out. Nike’s Running app (another favourite of ours) can also be linked up to this, so you can benefit from an all-round fitness experience — down to healthy recipe ideas, weekly fitness challenges and information on how to connect with sport groups in your area. (Free).
The beginner one: Couch to 5K
Since the pandemic first hit, Couch to 5K has seen a surge in popularity. Founded back in the 1990s as a web-based running plan, entrepreneur Josh Clark devised the idea after a bad breakup. “It was punishing and painful,” he told us last year, “and if I’m honest, maybe that was the point. But then something crazy happened: it started to feel good. At some point, the boring awful discomfort gave way to real pleasure — physically, mentally, even spiritually.”
This NHS-backed app has taken the plan and made it easier than ever to complete. You can choose from five different trainers who will guide as you train (including former Olympian Michael Johnson), and the user-friendly app lets you track your progress and awards achievements as you move through the runs. An ideal choice for any workout novices. (Free).
Looking to hit that 5K target? These are the best running headphones we guarantee won’t fall out…
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