Best Online Fitness Services 2019 - Training and Workout Programs
We have been reviewing online fitness programs for eight years. For our most recent update, we spent 500+ hours over the course of four months testing each fitness program and gauging how well each company stays in contact and responds to questions. After our testing concluded, we chose iBodyFit as the best online fitness service because it offers the most complete selection of fitness programs as well as reliable access to its staff of certified personal trainers and dietitians.
iBodyFit has a tremendous selection of guided workout videos and gives personalized feedback to each of its customers. It's more expensive than most online fitness services, but it's worth the price.
Train Online is the least expensive online fitness service we reviewed, though it has a surprisingly extensive library of fitness videos and workout programs.
Daily Burn has an excellent mobile app, which is not a common feature among online fitness services. The service also boasts a large selection of workout programs and videos.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Offered Services||Fitness Programs||Support & Resources||Pilates||Wedding Day or Special Event||Strength Training or Muscle Toning||Pregnancy & Post-Pregnancy||Cardio or Weight Loss||Difficulty Options||High-Intensity or Competition Prep||Short-Term or Shred||Senior Fitness||Yoga||Contact Grade||Cancel at Any Time||Telephone||Blog or Forum||12-Week Price Comparison||Minimum Price||Trial Period or Sample Videos||Recipes & Nutrition Guides||Streaming Videos||Service-Designed Routine||Direct Personal Trainer Contact||Goal Tracking||Companion App||Downloadable Videos||Standalone Workouts|
|iBodyFit||View Deal||5/5||9.8||10||10||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||A||✓||✓||✓||$87.00||$29/month||3 Days||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Daily Burn||View Deal||4.5/5||10||9.5||7.5||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||A||✓||✓||$44.85||$14.95/month||30 Days||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Train Online||View Deal||4.5/5||9.5||9.5||7||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||B||✓||✓||$14.97||$4.99/month||Samples||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Hitch Fit||View Deal||4.5/5||9.5||8.5||8.3||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||A||✓||✓||$257.99||$85.99/month||None||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Jillian Michaels||View Deal||3.5/5||8.5||6||7.5||✓||✓||✓||C||✓||✓||✓||$60.00||$65/13 weeks||Samples||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Workouts On Demand||View Deal||3.5/5||7.5||6.8||8||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||B||✓||✓||✓||$59.97||$19.99/month||Samples||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|FitFusion||View Deal||3.5/5||5.8||8.8||6.8||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||F||✓||✓||✓||$29.97||$9.99/month||2 Weeks||✓||✓||✓||✓|
iBodyFit has the most comprehensive selection of workout programs among the online fitness services we reviewed. There are over 400 workout videos in a variety of categories, such as aerobics, Pilates and machine workouts, among others.
The range of options lets you try new workouts or stick with your favorites, depending on your fitness needs. You can view these videos from a web browser; iBodyFit doesn't have a dedicated mobile app, which is a little surprising. There is also a big selection of diet plans to help you pair healthy eating with your workout.
The company has a variety of personal trainer plans as well as some less-expensive workout-only plans. Of the personal training plans, all allow you to get personalized feedback, and we generally got answers within about an hour.. However, you need to register for the most expensive plan to get access to VIP feedback, where you can get instant feedback to questions about your workout. You can track your personal progress on the iBodyFit website by inputting basic measurements such as your weight, waist and bicep size. iBodyFit is as affordable as most gym memberships, except that you can cancel anytime, though it's one of the more expensive online fitness services we reviewed.
Train Online's numerous videos and extensive information are a big reason we chose this as the best value in online fitness services. The videos are well-crafted to help you understand exactly what to do, and the company posts new videos on a weekly basis.
The service's printable workout plans have illustrations that show you what muscle groups each exercise targets. You can also choose to up the difficulty on your workouts as you reach your fitness goals to keep pushing yourself. Train Online is the least expensive service we looked at, and it has no contract, so you can cancel anytime without paying a penalty.
You can track your progress on the Train Online website by inputting a variety of statistics as you work out, which then show up in a graph to show you how far you've come. Although you can expect to get a personal trainer to respond to your fitness questions, we found that Train Online takes a little longer to answer questions than most of the services we tested. This makes it a good option if you're interested in directing your own training and don't need extensive one-on-one feedback. The service doesn't have an accompanying mobile app or specific nutrition guides, which is disappointing; company’s emphasis is clearly on its excellent workout programs.
Best Mobile App
Daily Burn is a well-rounded fitness service with over 20 workout programs, which makes it one of the most comprehensive online fitness services, though it lacks workouts for seniors. Once you choose a workout program, Daily Burn guides you through a helpful schedule, though you can watch workout videos outside of the schedule as well.
Unlike many other top fitness services we looked at, Daily Burn has a full suite of apps for smartphones as well as streaming devices like the Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku. Regardless of which device you use, the apps have a simple interface that makes them very easy to use.
Daily Burn's least expensive plan costs around $15, which is more expensive than most other online fitness services. However, we think that this service is an excellent value for the price, especially since it doesn't require a contract like many gym memberships. There's also a more expensive plan that unlocks extra workouts and features. When you sign up for a plan, Daily Burn has you fill out a brief questionnaire to help determine which programs and goals you should pursue. The service also helps you improve your diet and nutrition through a variety of plans and recipes. During our testing, we contacted Daily Burn and received answers within 30 minutes, though we weren't able to contact the company over the telephone.
Hitch Fit creates specialized workout programs based on your body type, diet and personal habits. This site is designed to help you reach specific goals for fitness or special events, such as weight loss, building muscle, competing in a physique competition or preparing for your wedding.
It also has options for gluten free and vegetarian diet plans. Hitch Fit provides you with personal coaching, weekly feedback, training DVDs and printed guides. It has a YouTube channel, but you can’t access videos directly from the website. For on-the-go subscribers, the site’s biggest drawback is that it doesn’t have a mobile app. It’s also lacking an efficient way to track your personal stats, but you can count on a weekly email from your Hitch Fit trainer for motivation and support. The site also has a Facebook group and a blog. Program participation can be expensive, but once you purchase a plan, you own its workout videos.
Best for Beginners
This workout program is great if you've really never tried working out before and don't know what you want.
Jillian Michaels has the approach of a tough personal trainer, which can be a great way to kick your weight-loss journey into high gear. The program has several levels of workouts, and your daily workouts are customized to your body and lifestyle. It emphasizes interval cardio training and toning, but it doesn't get boring because the workouts include Pilates, martial arts, weightlifting and other forms of physical activity. The program also has diet-and-nutrition planning, which can be really helpful if you've never done meal planning or counted calories. The program is also available in an app, so you can see, right on your phone, how you're progressing. There's also a bonus seven-day free trial to let you decide whether this is the kind of workout program you want.
Why Trust Us
We have been reviewing online fitness programs for eight years. We spent 500+ hours over the course of four months testing each fitness program we reviewed for this update. As with most other services we review, our tests didn't involve physical testing as much tracking what each service offers and how well our interactions with each company went.
We focused on services that employ certified personal trainers and put an emphasis on physical fitness. Although many of the fitness services we reviewed offer dietary advice and helpful recipes, we didn't include weight-loss programs that only focus on dieting or counting calories.
In addition to reviewing online fitness programs, we also evaluate a variety or home fitness equipment such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, exercise bikes and home gyms. These machines, like online fitness services, are good alternatives to a gym membership or as complements to an online workout regimen.
How We Tested
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. Online fitness companies that actively work to keep customers motivated and on track with the exercise regime without swamping us with emails earned higher scores in our comparison.
We also favored fitness services that answered questions thoroughly and promptly. Because getting fit or staying in shape is not the same process for everyone, there's a good chance you'll contact your fitness service with specific questions regarding your personal health. Companies that responded to our questions quickly with individualized advice earned higher scores in our comparison.
Most of the companies we reviewed offered valuable insights in response to our questions. For example, WorkoutBOX was very efficient and helpful in its communication with us, ultimately receiving a perfect score for customer service. However, while all services sent an automatic response stating our question would be answered shortly, some companies had poor follow-through, declining to answer our questions or failing to respond at all.
Why Work Out?
Fewer than 5 percent of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity a day according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. On top of that, data from 2009 to 2010 indicates more than 78 million U.S. adults and about 12.5 million children and adolescents are obese. If you don't want to be a part of those statistics, working out can have both mental and physical health benefits. Staying physically fit through workout programs and apps can boost the good cholesterol in your body, otherwise known as high-density lipoprotein. According to the Mayo Clinic, this paired with a decrease in triglycerides lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease. Working out regularly can also help prevent stroke, depression, type 2 diabetes and arthritis.
Working out can also have long term benefits for your family. Children who see their parents being active are more likely to be active themselves, and the earlier the habit is started, the better. Former President Barack Obama established a Task Force on Childhood Obesity in 2010 with the aim of eliminating childhood obesity. Former First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign was also a part of that, and according to HHS only one in three kids is physically active every day. It's important for your children to develop good attitudes and habits when it comes to working out and watching you – their parents, mentors and friends – take the time to get up and move with an online exercise program or app is a big part of that.
Finding the Best Online Fitness Programs
While you examine online fitness programs, pay attention to the services each company offers. Most of the companies we reviewed have at least one premade workout program you can follow. These routines allow you to jump right into a program that catches your eye and start burning away the calories.
The differences between losing weight and building muscle are huge, so the exercises you do for them differ significantly as well. Look for specific programs that align with your goals. If you have special needs, such as post-pregnancy exercises, or a preferred workout, such as yoga or Pilates, look for a fitness service with that type of program.
We found that Hitch Fit is a great option for creating a personalized fitness program tailored to your unique body shape, nutritional needs and fitness goals. To keep you motivated, it sends frequent reminders with your program's next step, rather than dumping the entire program on you all at once.
Funding Online Fitness Services
Online fitness services structure pricing in many ways. Some sites charge a monthly fee, while others bill you for programs in a lump sum. We found monthly prices ranging from $9.95 to $99 and program fees ranging from about $250 to more than $1,000. The best way to determine how much you’ll pay is to research each site directly and choose which plan best fits your budget.
Standalone Workout Videos
Every service we reviewed offers standalone workout videos, allowing you to hop into a single exercise video that catches your eye. This allows you to watch workout videos at any time without having to sign up for an additional plan or program. With this option, you can do workouts on top of your existing routine, or you can customize your own workout routine, allowing you to choose and develop your own exercises.
Assigned Personal Trainers
Depending the plan you choose, you get an assigned personal trainer who contacts you regularly throughout the fitness regimen so you can ask them questions, get direct feedback and continually adapt your fitness needs. This can help motivate and encourage you to stay on track and in shape.
Recipes & Nutrition Guides
If you’re looking for a holistic approach on your journey to getting fit, choose a service that offers nutrition guides and recipes so you can eat properly before and after workouts. This can help you follow a diet that meets your needs and complements your fitness regimen.
Whether it's a simple progress bar or accomplishment badges, goal tracking is a useful motivational tool for improving your overall fitness. Each service we reviewed lets you track your overall progress, which can boost your confidence and efforts by showing what you are working toward and how far you have come.
Choose an online fitness service with the right access options for your needs. For example, if you travel often or don't always have an internet connection, consider a service that has a companion mobile app or downloadable videos. If you plan to work out at home, a service that streams workout videos to a web browser or TV is a good option.
This score is based on our experiences communicating with each company and 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.
No Long-Term Contract
Fortunately, every online fitness service we reviewed either allows you to cancel at any time or has a one-time-purchase option. This means there aren't hefty cancellation fees like you see in traditional gym memberships.
Do Online Fitness Services Really Work Better Than a Gym?
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. 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. Working out won't do you any good if you eat three large hamburgers immediately after. If you need a little extra help in the food department, there are numerous health and fitness experts with online platforms where you can find the help you need.
Free Workout Apps
In 2017 a group of scholarly researchers published a study comparing 28 popular fitness mobile apps to exercise guidelines set forth by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The study ranked each app by testing the efficacy of the three main components of the ACSM exercise principles: aerobic exercise, strength, and resistance and flexibility. The researchers concluded that even the best workout apps only cover roughly half of the prescribed exercise curriculum. Our favorite online fitness services offer much more comprehensive programs, but if you want to supplement those workouts with a free mobile workout app, these are some of the best available.
If you're unsure about starting a diet and fitness regimen, we recommend starting out with a free service before transitioning to something you pay for. The app we recommend is MyFitnessPal, a part of the Under Armour brand. This app takes the information you enter about your body and lifestyle and gives you ways to meet your fitness goals. You enter the food and drinks you consume all day as well as your physical activity and the app tells you how many calories you should be consuming. You can choose from specific food items like Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana or more general things like a cooked chicken breast and keep track of how much food you're actually consuming. Once you’ve entered all of your data for a given day and archived it, the app tells you how much weight you could potentially lose over time if you continue to eat well and stay active. It also syncs up with fitness trackers, like Fitbit, so you don’t have to manually enter your exercise every day. There is a premium version of the app you have to pay for, but the free version is a great introduction into portion control and living well.
Nike Training Club
This app is available for Android and iOS devices, and it has a great selection of strength and resistance exercises. It has more than 185 total workouts, including a good selection of quick 15-minute exercises. The user interface is visually stunning and includes video and audio guidance from professional athletes and Nike trainers. The app allows you to log activities outside the prescribed curriculum and balances your weekly fitness routine based on the exercises you complete. Once you complete a workout, you can post milestones and photos to popular social media platforms directly from the app.
Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout
This free fitness app doesn’t have any flexibility workouts, but it uses a balance of aerobic and strength exercises to create custom workouts that target multiple focus areas. It works on Apple and Android mobile devices and is a great option for beginners because of the low-impact nature of the exercises. The workouts range from 7 to 32 minutes in length and only require a chair and wall, so it is also a good option if you're looking to burn some calories on a lunch break.
Fitness Trackers for Home Workouts
The fitness services we reviewed include simple goal tracking features, but if you want to keep a detailed workout log with important measurables, a wearable fitness tracker is the best option. Here are some models with tracking features (like how many calories you burned and heart rate zones) that work well in conjunction with online fitness services.
Fitbit Charge 3
The Charge 3 has more than 15 exercise modes, including a circuit training mode and yoga mode that pairs well with workout plans from online fitness services. The one glaring exclusion of this tracker is the lack of onboard GPS, but it’s not necessary if you workout in the comfort of your home. The Charge 3 automatically begins monitoring your activity when you start a workout and sends your heart rate and calories burned to the Fitbit app or other popular fitness apps, like Apple Health and MyFitnessPal.
This is the best wearable fitness tracker option for less than $70. It doesn’t display smartphone notifications on a color touchscreen like the Fitbit Charge 3, but the Moov Now has a great selection of activity tracking features packed into a durable and lightweight design. The battery lasts months between charges, and the simple design only has one button on the top panel to sync your fitness stats with the Moov app or other popular third-party fitness apps. The Moov app includes real-time audio coaching to keep you motivated during a tough workout. It also has a unique impact tracking feature that alerts you if you are in danger of injury due to excessive impact or unusual range of motion.
Stream Boxes for Online Fitness Services
The online fitness services we tested broadcast through your computer’s web browser. Some have companion apps for playing videos on your phone or tablet, but for streaming workouts on a television, a stream box is the best solution. Here are some user-friendly stream boxes that mirror your computer screen on an HD television.
Google Chromecast Ultra
This compact streaming device is less than $70 and mirrors any website from the Google Chrome web browser to your TV with the touch of one button. The video playback is capable of broadcasting in 4K ultra high definition, and the latest processor ensures a smooth and reliable connection. The Google Chromecast Ultra is compatible with Android phones if you prefer to stream workouts from a mobile app instead of an online platform
Apple TV 4K
If you use an Apple computer or mobile device for an online fitness service, this is the best stream box option. It is more than twice the cost of a Google Chromecast, but it comes with a Siri voice assistant compatible remote and seamlessly integrates with other Apple systems. The 32 GB version is sufficient for most, and the new A10X processor is fast and ensures no lag in wireless screen mirroring. The latest generation Apple TV streams video in 4K and adds an immersive audio experience with Dolby Atmos compatibility.