Support & Resources
Best Online Fitness Services
Why Choose an Online Fitness Program?
The top performers in our review are iBodyFit, the Gold Award winner; Daily Burn, the Silver Award winner; and Train Online, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing an online fitness program to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 programs.
Online fitness services are becoming more and more popular because of their effectiveness, accessibility and affordability. These services offer workout routines that you follow by watching exercise videos on your computer or TV. You can think of many of these services as the Netflix of workout programs, as you stream videos over your internet connection instead of purchasing individual DVDs. Just as fitness transitioned from the gym to home videos, online fitness training represents the next paradigm shift in regards to personal fitness.
Online fitness training typically offers advanced exercise routines that incorporate exercise machines, such as ellipticals, treadmills and home gyms. We have reviewed and ranked each of these exercise tools to help you determine which is best for your body type, fitness goals and exercise routine. You may find yourself doubting the effectiveness or reliability of these services, which is why we reviewed the best online workout programs on the market today. These services can be just as effective as traditional gym memberships, if not more so.
Are Online Fitness Services Effective?
Perhaps the first question you have asked yourself when considering an online workout program is "can I get the same results from an online program that I can get at the gym?" The honest answer to this question usually comes down to you. Some online workout programs have personal trainers who contact you directly via email, but all rely on your level of motivation to continue using the service. Fitness programs online are effective for people who are self-motivated and ready to get in shape, which really isn't that different from a regular gym membership.
There are some downsides of an online fitness service to consider. Most notably, all of your interactions with the company are remote, even if you opt for a service that offers one-on-one time with a personal trainer. If you want face-to-face interactions, exercise programs online may not be the right option for you. Another downside to online fitness services is you won't have someone there to help you improve your form or spot you if you lift weights. If form, technique and a spotter are the most important things for you, a physical gym or in-person trainer may be your best option.
However, one of the major benefits of online services is you can work out in the privacy of your home, with your own equipment and on your own schedule. Online fitness workouts allow you to avoid the gym environment that makes some uncomfortable; many people don’t like working out in front of others or using gym equipment that countless other people have used. If you want to wake up at 3 or 4 a.m., or burn some calories right before you go to bed, you can do so without having to try to beat the gym crowd when you use an online program.
You may wonder why you should pay for online workout plans when so many free videos are available online through YouTube, apps and even random blog posts. Although these options can be tempting and maybe even informative in some cases, you never really know if what you are getting is legitimate, healthy or even safe. The free workouts or information you find online may be helpful, but they may also lead to some serious long-term problems. Online fitness services, such as Jillian Michaels, are developed by professionals who are certified to present safe, effective exercise routines, so you don't have to stress over whether the information you are getting is reliable or not.
What Is the Right Online Fitness Service for You?
The best personal trainers you can find at a gym offer a variety of tools and services to help you lose weight, build muscle, or get toned in a way that is both personalized and healthy. Online fitness services are no different from gym trainers if you follow them correctly. The trick is finding an online service that fits your needs. If you travel constantly and need a fitness program you can use while on the road, look for services that offer a companion app. To adjust your diet in addition to working out, look for a program that offers nutritional guides or an extensive recipe database. Regardless of what you need to improve your overall health, you can find a fitness service that meets or exceeds what you're looking for.
We found that Hitch Fit is a great option that will create a personalized fitness program designed specifically with your body shape, nutritional needs and fitness goals in mind. To keep you motivated, you receive weekly or more frequent reminders with the next step of your program, rather than receiving the entire program at once and being left alone to figure out when to start each part.
Although the online fitness programs we reviewed aren't free, they are far more cost-effective than traditional gym memberships. Depending on your local gyms and the membership you purchase, you can pay hundreds of dollars a month, which isn't budget-friendly for a lot of people. Online memberships tend to be more affordable, generally ranging from $5 a month to $65 for a 13-week program. This wide range allows you to find a service that works for your needs without breaking the bank.
Online Fitness Services: What We Evaluated, What We Found
During our evaluation process, we recorded how often the companies contacted us, how frequently they responded to our emails and the helpfulness of their responses. While you search for an online fitness service that fits your needs, make sure you find a company that sends you an email every once in a while, encouraging you to continue your exercise regime. The best companies understand the difference between a few encouraging emails and spam mail.
More importantly than the company sending you emails now and then, look for a fitness service that will answer your questions thoroughly and promptly. As we are all aware, getting fit or staying in shape is not a simple or intuitive process, so there's a good chance you're going to want to contact your fitness service for specific questions regarding your personal health. Look for companies that respond to your questions in a timely manner and offer helpful, thorough responses.
Every company we reviewed sends, at the very least, an automatic response email stating that your question will be answered shortly. However, some companies have poor follow-through, saying that they cannot answer your question or not responding at all. Thankfully, most of the companies we reviewed do take customer support seriously and offer valuable information in response to your questions. WorkoutBOX in particular was efficient and helpful in its communication with us and received a perfect score for customer service.
What You Should Look for in Online Fitness Services
The first and most important thing to consider while you search for a fitness service is customization. Whether you prefer working alone or with an online fitness trainer, you need an exercise routine that works for you and not the other way around. In other words, you don't want to subscribe to a service that uses a one-size-fits-all platform. You want a service that considers your age, body type, diet, personal preferences and so on, and builds a workout routine that fits your needs and goals. You can determine whether a company offers customization through the services it offers, the different fitness programs available, and the support and resources it has for members.
While you examine different online fitness programs, pay particular attention to the services each company offers. Most of the companies we reviewed have at least one service-designed fitness routine, meaning there are premade workout programs you can follow. These routines allow you to jump right into a program that catches your eye and start burning away the calories.
Some of these programs are designed for a specific user group or fitness goal. For example, FitFusion has exercise routines geared toward post-pregnancy fitness and another that focuses on muscle toning. Only a couple of services don't offer a standardized routine and only have a collection of videos for you to watch whenever the mood strikes you.
Every service we reviewed offers stand-alone workout videos, allowing you to hop into a single exercise video that catches your eye. However, only a few sites allow you to interact online with a workout trainer directly, which can be a critical decision point before you subscribe to a service. Direct contact with a professional allows you to ask the hard questions about specific exercises, workout programs or overall health.
For a holistic approach on your journey to getting fit, look for a service that offers nutrition guides and recipes so you can eat properly before and after workouts. Most services also have a method for you to track your overall progress, which can boost your confidence and efforts by showing not only what you are working toward, but also how far you have come.
You should also decide whether you want to use online services that stream workout videos, have you download video files to your device, or both. There are benefits to both options. You can watch streaming videos on any device with an internet connection, whereas having your favorite videos downloaded to your laptop means you can work out regardless of your connectivity.
Workout routines vary greatly depending on why you want to use a fitness service. The differences between losing weight and building muscle are huge, meaning the exercises you do for them differ significantly as well. When checking out our reviews on the best online exercise programs, remember the main reasons why you want an online workout service and look for specific programs that align with your goals. A wide variety of fitness programs is available, including specialized ones such as post-pregnancy exercises. You should find a company that offers solutions for all of your workout needs before making a final decision.
Support & Resources
There is as much misinformation regarding fitness and health as there is good information, if not more. Look for online fitness packages that include numerous resources and informational guides you can refer to when you have questions. Pay special attention to companies that we gave high contact scores, as this represents how effectively they reach out to users, how promptly they answer questions, and how helpful the information they provide is. The companies that scored the highest reach out to you and are very helpful and thorough. The services that scored lower may respond to emails, but the information may not be as helpful.
Other things to consider while you search for the best online workouts include the ability to cancel your service at any time, community blogs or forums, and telephone support. Fortunately, every online fitness service we reviewed either allows you to cancel at any time or has a one-time-purchase business plan. This means you don't have to worry about the hefty cancellation fees that traditional gym memberships are infamous for.
Look for companies that offer community support in the form of blogs or user forums, as this allows you to interact with others who are on the path to getting in shape. Every company offers email support, as you'd expect from an online service, but some also offer telephone support, which is helpful when you need to speak to a real person about technical issues.
Online Fitness Services: Our Verdict & Recommendations
After evaluating a number of online exercise programs, we found that iBodyFit, Daily Burn and Train Online offer the best fitness solutions. These online companies combine numerous services with different workout programs, giving you the option to vary your workout routines, find what works best for you, and take a holistic approach to your fitness and overall health. All three of these companies also offer the resources and support you may need on the path to losing weight or building muscle.
iBodyFit, our Gold Award winner, has more fitness programs available than any other online personal training service we reviewed, meaning you don't have to worry about finding a program that works for your needs with this service. This company remains in contact with you throughout your journey to becoming fit, with helpful, thorough information.
Daily Burn, our Silver Award winner for online fitness, has an easy-to-use, accessible user interface that draws you in and pumps you up to start burning calories immediately. This service has numerous customization features, allowing you to switch between programs and online personal fitness trainers to motivate you to keep pushing. Daily Burn possesses one of the best customer support teams, which responds to any problems, questions or concerns you have immediately and thoroughly.
Train Online, the Bronze Award winner, doesn't offer as many services as the two best online fitness services. However, the extensive exercise library, community support and workout programs make it a heavy contender in the world of online fitness.