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Best online fitness programs 2020: Online fitness classes for exercising at home

Best online fitness programs 2020: Online fitness classes for exercising at home
(Image credit: Getty)

The best online fitness programs are a great way for you to increase your health and fitness at home. There are different types of online fitness workouts, so you have a great selection available depending on your body goals. 

For example, the best online fitness program for you may involve a mix of cardio and strength training. Or perhaps you want to focus on just a few closely related forms of fitness, such as yoga and pilates. If you get bored easily, your ideal online fitness service might be one that offers  thousands of on demand workouts. 

Some of the best online fitness programs come from leading brands like Peloton, maker of some of the world’s best treadmills and exercise bikes, while others have been devised by globally recognized personal trainers including Jillian Michaels.

In our guide to the best online fitness programs, we look at a variety designed to help you lose or maintain weight, to tone up or build muscle, and to generally improve your mobility. They vary hugely in price, so be clear on what you want to achieve before considering signing up.

To track how effective your home workouts are, consider wearing one of the best fitness trackers to monitor your heart rate (and whether you're in fat burning mode) and calories burned. If you like the look of the Fitbit in our guide, also keep an eye on our round-up of the best Amazon Prime Day Fitbit deals for the latest offers.

8 best online fitness programs

1. Peloton Digital: Best online fitness program for cyclists and runners

Best online fitness programs: Peloton Digital online fitness classes

(Image credit: Peloton)

Peloton Digital

The best online fitness classes for pretty much everyone

Cost: $12.99 a month | Trial period: 30 days

Syncs with Apple Watch
Huge variety of workouts
Can be used with Peloton kit
Generous free trial period

As one of the world’s best online fitness programs, Peloton Digital is blazing a trail for better and more enjoyable at-home workouts. You don’t need a Peloton bike to use the Peloton app, nor do you need a Peloton Treadmill (though we have our eye on the slick new Peloton treadmill arriving in 2021).

When Peloton first launched, it was mainly all about getting studio-quality spin classes at home. Since those early days, the brand has nurtured a global fitness community and, in addition to cycling based workouts, it has branched out into running, HIIT, yoga, aerobics and even meditation. 

The Peloton Digital app (iOS, Android) gives you access to this world-beating online fitness training program on your phone, tablet or laptop, so you can workout wherever you are. You don’t even need any specific home gym equipment for many of the classes - just a mat on the floor, and sometimes not even that. 

There are over 10 online fitness workout types to pick from, including Bootcamp, Strength, Cycling, Outdoor Running, Yoga and Stretching. Plus, there’s meditation classes, though we recommend Gaia (see below) for exclusive yoga and meditation training. 

Peloton launches new live and on-demand online fitness workout classes everyday, with thousands of video workouts in its back catalog for you to exercise along with. Honestly, there’s so much on offer with Peloton Digital that it’s kind of unfair to all of the other brands featured in this guide. 

Compared to the monthly cost of a gym, and the time spent commuting back and forth to it, Peloton is excellent value for money and could help you really strengthen and transform your body as well as nourish your mind.


2. Daily Burn: Best online fitness program to lose weight at home

Best online fitness programs: Daily Burn online fitness classes

(Image credit: Daily Burn)

Daily Burn

A targeted online fitness program for weight loss and maintenance

Cost: $19.95 a month | Trial period: : 30 days

1,000+ workouts
Generous trial period
You’ll get a personalized plan
Some of the teachers are OTT

If you want to lose weight, or have been advised by your doctor or healthcare practitioner to lose weight through a combination of regular exercise and a healthy diet, Daily Burn could be the best online fitness training program for you. That’s because it has a proven track record of helping people to not only lose weight, but to then maintain their new healthy weight.

If you need to reduce your BMI, Daily Burn has a range of online fitness workout programs to help you make consistent progress. This is no flash-in-the-pan training that results in water weight loss and precious little else, rather it’s designed to help you lose one to two pounds a week on average if you work out five-six times a week and combine that with healthy eating. 

Daily Burn’s video and audio-based online fitness training programs include a 21-day Inferno plan, which finishes each week with a grueling AMRAP (as many reps as you can) session to keep pushing you. There’s also Power Cardio (mixes weights with fast-paced cardio) Move (dance class), TBT (primal movements for increased mobility and flexibility), Kettlebells, Pilates, Mobility, and Core training. 

When you sign up to the 30-day trial, you’ll answer a short questionnaire so that Daily Burn can get a better idea of where you are now, in terms of your fitness level, and your body goals. From there, you will get a personalized plan recommending specific workouts to help you achieve your goals. 

There’s diet and nutrition advice on offer too, via meal plans and simple, easy-prep recipes that shouldn’t take up too much of your time in the kitchen. In a nutshell, if you want a dedicated online fitness service for consistent weight loss, this is a great one to try, especially with that generous 30-day trial period. 


3. FitFusion: Best online fitness classes for creating your own routine

Best online fitness programs: FitFusion online fitness classes

(Image credit: FitFusion)

FitFusion

The best online fitness training program for mixing it up

Cost: $8.99 a month, $89.99 a year | Trial: Seven days

Affordable membership
Classes led by top trainers
Create your own workout routine
You may want something more custom

FitFusion by Jillian Michaels is your gateway to multiple workouts targeted at helping you achieve a range of body goals, from toning and shaping to strength building and weight loss. Jillian is very empowering when it comes to helping you feel good about your body, and strives to help people feel stronger and happier. 

Exercise is a good way to achieve this, especially in conjunction with a healthy diet, and there are plenty of fun yet effective workouts to be found on FitFusion. 

If you have used any Jillian Michaels home workout DVDs in the past, some of the workout series on FitFusion will be familiar to you – we’re talking about the likes of Yoga Meltdown and Ripped In 30. These are all available when you take out a subscription to the online workout site. It costs $9.99 a month or $89.99 a year, and offers a free seven-day trial.

There are celebrity trainers on here too, including yoga superstar Tara Stiles, but there is no option to contact a personal trainer or pay extra for that level of guidance. You’ll have to structure your own workout routine, and find your diet and nutrition advice elsewhere. Still, if you like Jillian’s no-nonsense approach to training, there’s much to enjoy here.


4. P.Volve: Best online fitness program for toning

Best online fitness programs: P.Volve online fitness classes

(Image credit: P.Volve)

P.Volve

Online fitness classes designed to sculpt your body

Cost: $19.99 a month, or $101.99 for six months, or $179.99 per year | Trial period: 14 days

Little equipment needed
Easy to do anywhere at home
Suitable for beginners upwards
You want something more intense

P.Volve is one of the trendiest online fitness training programs around right now, and is a full-body workout program that uses resistance based movements that are high intensity yet low impact. These movements are created to strengthen and sculpt your  body, and most aren’t too dissimilar to pilates. 

P.Volve is based on the premise that, when building muscles, doing more reps using lighter weights is as effective as doing less reps with heavier weights. Good form is key, though. As such all of the instructors will coach you on best form for the different movements they use in each workout.

When you sign up to the 14-day trial, you’ll gain access to over 200 workout videos, with new classes added each week. Clearly that’s far less than what is on offer with other services featured in our best online fitness training programs guide, but P.Volve is constantly growing, so you shouldn’t be lacking for workout videos anytime soon.

You can do each workout using only your bodyweight, or start incorporating P.Volve  equipment such as ankle weights or a small workout ball (used during glutes and leg muscle exercises). P.Volve recommends beginners start with its Moves to Master instructional video, which teaches you the six foundational moves.

If you enjoy body strength training and have little room at home for equipment, P.Volve is a little odd at first yet surprisingly effective at sculpting and strengthening if you use the program five to six days a week.


5. Gaia: Best online fitness classes for yoga

Best online fitness programs: Gaia.com online fitness classes

(Image credit: Gaia)

Gaia Yoga and Meditation

The best online fitness program for your body and mind

Cost: From $11.99 a month | Trial period: Seven days

Expert yoga classes
Pilates and body strength training
Mindfulness and meditation classes
Live classes are expensive

Gaia online is one of the biggest and best online fitness training programs for yoga, pilates and body strength training. But this is also a program through which you can access fun dance and HIIT classes, as well as meditation and mindfulness. You’ll also get access to documentaries and films relating to yoga, meditation and more. 

A Gaia subscription costs $11.99 a month, or $99 a year (works out at $8.25 per month). For live access, including workshops, Gaia costs $299 annually (works out at $24.92 per month). The monthly cost is cheaper than The Fitness App by Jillian Michaels, and you get plenty more dedicated online yoga and pilates classes. 

We love Gaia’s yoga offerings, and you can search for classes based on your experience level. There are seemingly workouts here, from trail-blazing teachers, targeting everything from neck, back and hip pain, to helping you feel more energized in the morning or more relaxed in the evening. Practices covered include ashtanga, hatha, vinyasa, yin and yoga nidra. 

You’ll never be interrupted with annoying ads during a class, and you can watch Gaia on your smartphone, tablet or other device. 

If you want to get seriously good at yoga, or you fancy using yoga, pilates and general fitness classes to get healthy, Gaia is a brilliantly laid out and very well-stocked fitness program that truly delivers. It’s also the best online fitness training program for your mind, thanks to its abundance of world-leading meditation and mindfulness classes to support you through everything from stress to insomnia.


6. Jillian Michaels The Fitness App: Best online fitness program for beginners

Best online fitness programs: Jillian Michaels The Fitness App for online fitness classes

(Image credit: Jillian Michaels Fitness)

Jillian Michaels: The Fitness App

Learn how to perform a range of exercises with a world-class fitness trainer

Cost: $14.99 a month, $29.99 for three months, $89.99 a year | Trial: Seven days

Seven-minute workouts
Customized exercise plans
Enjoyable meal plans
Phone and tablet use only

Jillian Michaels is one of the world’s best-known personal fitness trainers, so no wonder her online fitness program has over 7,500 ratings between the App Store and Google Play. When you download The Fitness App, you’ll get a seven-day free trial but you have to input your credit card details before accessing the free trial. 

From there you’ll have a choice of signing up for a one-month recurring subscription at $14.99, a three-month recurring subscription for $29.99, or its $89.99 for the year.

Even though you have a choice of three different fitness levels - easy, medium or hard - bizarrely, all of the 25 workouts presented to you will be the same regardless of which fitness level you select. So be honest with yourself about your current fitness level, and tag out of an exercise if it’s beyond you at this time. 

There are 24 different online workouts available via the app, including Fitness For Beginners, Quick HIIT, Yoga, Abs, Lean Legs, Weight Lifting and Functional Training, Walk a 5K, 5K/10K Run, Postnatal Bounce Back, and Burn 60.

We tried several different workouts during our review period, including the Weightloss Extreme 90, which sounds more intense than it is. This online fitness workout is designed to help you lose weight in 90 days, which isn’t an unrealistic time frame. The exercises are varied, and Jillian shows you how to perform each one (via a video) and how many reps to perform. 

Fans of Jillian’s Yoga Meltdown videos will probably prefer the FitFusion offering further up this list, but there’s enough here for beginner and seasoned yoga fans. Though if you really love yoga and want to explore all different disciplines within this ancient practice, our recommendation is Gaia. 

Ultimately, for the low monthly cost, The Fitness App is brilliant. There are plenty of workouts to keep you from plateauing in your progress, and having Jillian’s expert instruction regarding form is priceless for those who are new to exercise. 


7. iBodyFit: Best online fitness program for pro advice

Best online fitness programs: iBodyFit online fitness classes

(Image credit: iBody Fit)

iBodyFit

Online fitness workouts designed by a personal trainer

Cost: From $29 a year | Trial period: None

Plans written by a personal trainer
Exercise video samples 
Great support and encouragement
No app

iBodyFit is run by Franklin Antoian, one of Shape magazine’s 'Top 50 Trainers in America'. It offers a comprehensive selection of workout programs, with videos in a variety of categories covering aerobics, pilates, and machine workouts, among others. 

When you head to the site, you’ll see a list of workout plans as well as options to receive personal training. The former included a Fat Burner Plan ($29 a year), designed to help you lose weight through daily workouts (beginner, intermediate and advanced levels catered for), a weight loss diet plan, and workout video library. 

For only $20 more you could access the Bundle Plan instead, comprising the Fat Burner Plan, the Muscle Toner Plan, and Beach Bod Plan, all for $49 a year. Again, you’ll get access to workout plans, videos and nutritional guidance.

For proper personal training and support, the company offers three tiers of monthly online fitness training support: Starter costs $49 for one month, VIP costs $99 for one month, and VIP Plus costs $149 for one month. Considering how expensive personal trainer sessions can be in gyms, the Starter package is tempting.

It includes a custom workout plan and diet, with workout support and feedback from a personal trainer. While it’s frustrating that there’s no app, you can track your personal progress on the site by inputting basic measurements such as your weight, waist and bicep size to see how well you’re achieving your goals. 

Overall, iBodyFit is as affordable as most gym memberships, and you can cancel without hassle. If the lack of an app doesn’t bother you, and you’d like more personal online fitness training but without the steep price tag, this could be worth a look. 


8. Hitch Fit: Online fitness programs for weight training 

Best online fitness programs: Hitch Fit

(Image credit: Getty)

Hitch Fit

Want to build muscle? These WBFF champions will show you how

Personal training from WBFF winners
Custom exercise and diet plans
Plans are quite rigid

Hitch Fit started with a bricks and mortar gym in Kansas City and since grown to include four actual gyms and a global online fitness training program. While the company advertises itself as one of the best online fitness programs for everything from weight loss to bootcamp, we think they excel best at weight-based training. So if you want to get bigger muscles, this is the online fitness service for you. 

We say that because Hitch Fit was founded by two bodybuilding champions, so they know a thing or two about what it takes to build an incredible physique from the ground up. As such, Hitch Fit offers a variety of workout programs centered around weight lifting and muscle building. It even offers a plan for competitive weightlifters looking to enter more competitions.

There’s no app here, and the website design is sorely in need of an overhaul, but the quality of the muscle building plans is good. You get a diet plan, including a grocery list, plus personal coaching from the Hitch Fit personal trainers, including weekly direct feedback based on you giving them your latest stats. You also get access to a series of workout videos.

Prepare to pay far more for a Hitch Fit plan that you would for any other program featured in our best online fitness programs guide. These plans are expensive, so you need to be absolutely certain they are right for you because there is no trial period and no refund.

Hitch Fit exercise and diet plans are also very rigid, so prepare to spend a lot of your time per week doing cardio and strength based training, and preparing your meals and snacks. The diets can be quite high in protein and carbs, but this is common among any fitness training program focused on gaining weight and building muscle.

Online fitness program FAQ

How we chose the best online fitness programs

In order to compile our guide to the best online fitness programs, we focused on services and brands offering online fitness classes written by certified personal trainers. And, where possible, programs that offer a free trial period, which normally ranges from seven to 30 days. 

We also favored online fitness programs that answered our questions promptly, either via email, online chat, phone or social media. Why? Because getting fit isn't the same process for everyone, so there's a good chance you'll contact your fitness service with specific questions.


Choosing the best online fitness program for you

If you have specific needs, such as pre- or post-pregnancy exercises, or you're recovering from injury (get doctor sign-off first), always choose an online fitness program that has been written by a certified personal trainer who is a specialist in the area you need help with. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the best online fitness program for your wellness and fitness goals...

Cost
Online fitness programs vary wildly in terms of cost. Some sites charge a monthly fee, while others bill you for programs or workout plans in a lump sum. We found that monthly costs start from around $12.99 upwards, with customized workout plans costing hundreds of dollars. 

Selection of workouts
Every online fitness service we've reviewed offers standalone workout videos, so you can develop good form. These on-demand classes also mean you can watch workout videos at a time that suits you, instead of you having to organize your day around a specific fitness class.

Make sure that there is a good library of workouts on offer too, and covering different types of exercises, including strength or weights based training as well as more intense cardio exercises. You need both to have well-rounded fitness, and you'll quickly get bored of doing the same workout day in, day out.

Does it offer a personal trainer, and do you need one?
Depending on the online fitness program you choose, you may have the option of working with a personal trainer who contacts you regularly to give you direct feedback on your performance, and to tweak the plan to your evolving fitness needs. 

Personalized plans, including diet advice, with regular check-ins with a certified personal trainer are useful if you're the type of person who needs extra motivation and encouragement to stick with a workout plan. Especially if you are trying to lose weight.

Does it include nutritional advice?
If you’re looking for a holistic approach to losing weight or getting fit at home, the best online fitness program for you is one that offers nutritional advice (with a meal plan and recipes) so you can nourish yourself properly. 

Eating a healthy diet is the best thing you can do for your overall health, and can actually help you lose and maintain a healthy weight when followed in conjunction with regular cardio and weights exercise.

How easy is it to use?
Most modern online fitness programs have apps that are compatible with a range of devices, so you can workout by watching videos on your phone, tablet or laptop. These are brilliant because you can then exercise wherever you are, even if you're away from home. 


Best online fitness programs vs traditional gyms

Joining a gym might appear to be the most effective way to lose weight or stay in shape, but that's not always the case. While gyms do have various machines and weights for use, they can also be crowded and intimidating. You also have to sign up for specific periods of time, and can't cancel as easily as you can with the best online fitness programs. 

According to The Guardian, some consumer surveys have put the gym drop-out rate at more than 80 percent in the first eight weeks of signing up. Working out at home with an online fitness service means there’s no awkward locker room talk and no waiting for your favorite machine to become available.

One way to see which online fitness program is right for you is to look at the before and after photos. If a company doesn’t provide any, we’d recommend looking elsewhere. While the companies we reviewed are all above-board, make sure the photos you’re seeing aren’t digitally altered or changed in any way. Better yet, look for customer testimonials and see what results others have achieved.

In order to be successful with an online fitness program, you'll need to incorporate good nutrition. Many good programs include this element, and we don't recommend services that simply focus on burning calories.

Looking for more health and fitness content? Take a look at our guides to the best elliptical machines for cross-training, and the best bike trainers for turning your road or mountain bike into an indoor workout bike. For those of you who believe that fitness isn’t just about the physical self, download one of the best meditation apps to relax post-exercise.