Best Apps For Beginner Workouts

5 Best Beginner Workout Apps of 2021

Are you looking for the best apps for beginner workouts?

Whether you’re just getting started or want to try something new, there are plenty of options out there. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular programs and apps for beginners, along with a few tips for how to use them effectively.

We’ve ranked our top picks below based on factors like ease of use and price:

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  • [number one] app is great because it’s both affordable and easy to use on any device (including mobile phones). This means that no matter where you are—at home or at work—you can get in your workout without having to think about picking up your phone or tablet first. It also has a wide variety of exercises so there will always be something new to try out next time around too!
  • [number two] app is another good choice because it has tons of great features built right into it too! There’s nothing worse than having an app crash mid-workout so having backups built in just makes sense for anyone looking for something reliable without having to pay extra fees later on down the road too!

best free apps for beginner workouts

The 5 best beginner workout apps of 2021, including live classes and 7-minute workouts
By Ariana DiValentino Updated Dec 28, 2021
person tying their shoe with their phone laying on the ground
TravelCouples / Getty Images
Best beginner workout app overall
Best beginner workout app for quick workouts
Best beginner workout app for yoga
Best beginner workout app for live classes
Best beginner workout app for going at your own pace
What else I considered
How I test workout apps
What to look for in a beginner workout
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If you’re new to working out or getting back into it, it’s crucial to take it easy in order to avoid both injury and motivation burnout. In other words, resist jumping into the high-intensity routines your friends rave about or the CrossFit classes you went to before.

What’s more, if you’re anything like me, your head starts swimming at the question of where to even start.

“The most important thing for someone to look for in any workout regimen, whether it’s with a coach, a class, or within an app, is something they enjoy doing and will be inclined to stick to,” Rena Eleázar, PT, DPT, CSCS, a New York City-based physical therapist and trainer, told Insider.

This is good advice for me, a self-proclaimed perpetual beginner exerciser. I’ve tried all sorts of workouts but never made exercise a pillar of my routine. So, I decided to find the best apps for fitness newbies like myself.

In total, I tested 14 different workout apps that cover almost every approach to fitness. At the end of this guide, I’ve outlined more advice from Eleázar on what to look for in an exercise app, as well as how I tested each of the apps.

Here are the best exercise apps for beginners:
Best overall: OpenFit
OpenFit is goal-oriented and offers a variety of on-demand and live classes, plus meal plans and fun achievements.

Best for quick workouts: 7 Minute Workout
7 Minute Workout gets you moving right away with its quick, no-brainer HIIT sequences that are over as soon as you think about bailing.

Best for yoga: Alo Moves
Two-week free trial, then $20/month or $200/year
Alo Moves offers yoga, stretching, and meditation classes for whole-self wellness practices.

Best for live classes: Obé
One-week free trial, then $27/month, $65/quarter, or $200/year
Obé has tons of live classes hosted throughout the day by fun, lively instructors.

Best for going at your own pace: Sworkit
One-week free trial, then $10/month or $60/year
Sworkit has classes that run the gamut, including family-friendly movement programs.

Best beginner workout app overall
OpenFit exercise class
OpenFit is goal-oriented and offers a variety of on-demand and live classes, plus meal plans and fun achievements.

Pros: A ton of different workouts at all levels, guided programs, nutrition tools

Cons: Recipe section isn’t searchable by dietary restrictions, sheer volume of workout options can be overwhelming

Cost: Two-week free trial, then $57/quarter

If you’re looking for a single app that does it all, OpenFit is your best bet. It has workout videos in disciplines from
to stretching, to yoga, kickboxing, and strength training. The platform encourages you to set and meet reasonable goals, like exercising three times a week or focusing on leveling-up skills in one particular exercise program. Then, you’re rewarded with earning badges, so if you’re praise-motivated like me, you’ll love it.

I like that OpenFit is very comprehensive around helping you achieve bigger health and fitness goals: It has a tracker to note changes in your body or weight and a nutrition section that provides simple meal plans, shopping lists, and cooking instructions.

The design of the app and its emphasis on guided programs helps to keep you on track and prevents you from getting stuck in indecision paralysis.

The potential downside for true newbies is that there is a lot to choose from so it can be hard to know where to start. If that’s you, Eleázar suggested going with a low-impact exercise like yoga or Pilates while you figure out what you enjoy when it comes to physical activity. Once you have the basics down, you can try out a fast-paced or intense program like HIIT or Plyometrics.

But ultimately, gravitate toward what you love, she says — it’s the best way to build a workout routine that you will actually stick to.

I personally used the app’s Xtend Barre classes — my first time doing Barre at all — and I was much less lost than I expected to be. The instructor’s guidance was great and my abs and legs were super sore the next day, so I must have done something right.

Best beginner workout app for quick workouts
Johnson & Johnson 7 minute workout
Johnson & Johnson
7 Minute Workout gets you moving right away with its quick, no-brainer HIIT sequences that are over as soon as you think about bailing.

Pros: Fast and intuitive design encourages use, short workouts are manageable while also effective

Cons: Offers just one type of workout, learning curve for moves can be challenging

Cost: Free

If you’re short on time (or motivation), the 7 Minute Workout by Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute helps get you moving, fast.

After downloading, the app asks you a few questions about your skill level and motivation. Then, it immediately sends you to the home page to start your first workout, either the titular 7-minute workout or a customized “smart” workout. The latter is essentially a short HIIT/Tabata style workout, with short, timed bursts of muscle-toning, mostly-full-body moves like push-ups and jumping jacks.

The super simple, user-friendly, actionable design really helps with overcoming that pre-workout inertia.

Also worth noting: 7 Minute Workout integrates with iTunes, so you can listen to your own music while you move.

The only caveats are, like with most fast-paced HIIT routines, there’s little time spent demonstrating proper form for each move. None of the moves I saw were too complicated, but if you’re truly new, you should focus on learning proper form and do only as many reps as your body comfortably allows. If you feel any aches after, like pain in your knee or your low back, back off the workouts, Eleázar said.

The other drawback is that this app is sort of a one-trick pony, so it’s not ideal if you’re looking to try all sorts of workouts in one place.

But if you love HIIT/Tabata exercise and want to get your heart rate up while spending a minimal amount of time sweating, this app — which is totally free — is great.

Best beginner workout app for yoga
alo moves yoga workout
Alo Moves
Alo Moves offers yoga, stretching, and meditation classes for whole-self wellness practices.

Pros: A variety of yoga types, a variety of other fitness and
classes, a skill- and interest-based approach rather than weight-focused

Cons: Interface is a little plain and works best if you know what you’re looking for

Cost: Two-week free trial, then $20/month or $200/year

If your interest is less in breaking a sweat or getting your heart rate up, and more in the realm of connecting your mind and body, Alo Moves could be a great fit. It’s run by the athleisure brand Alo Yoga, so as you might guess, many of the workouts are yoga flows or yoga-inspired. But the app also offers intense cardio and strength classes that incorporate HIIT, Barre, and Pilates.

Overall, the focus of the app is much more on sharpening fitness and mindfulness skills rather than losing weight, which was one of the main reasons I liked it.

Alo offers guided programs as well as individual classes on-demand. Beginners may appreciate the single-move instructional videos, which give concise but detailed tips on nailing various yoga poses.

And when your body is in need of some recuperation, Alo has guided stretches that address specific areas of the body, as well as yoga for sleep and relaxation, breathwork, and even guides to crystal use. If you’re looking to break a sweat and get strong, they also have plenty of boxing, Pilates, Barre, and other intense fitness classes.

Best beginner workout app for live classes
obé fitness
Obé Fitness
$26.99 FROM OBÉ
Obé has tons of live classes hosted throughout the day by fun, lively instructors.

Pros: Choose and register for live classes in advance, social atmosphere even at home

Cons: Live class scheduling may not work for everyone, especially those on Pacific Time, as they tend to be earlier in the day

Cost: One-week free trial, then $27/month, $65/quarter, or $200/year

The core of the Obé app is its schedule of live classes, which let you work out with instructors and friends in real-time. You can sign up in advance and receive a
push notification
when it’s time to start.

Classes cover a mix of yoga, Pilates, Barre, strength training, HIIT, and more, in short 10-minute and longer 30- to 60-minute classes. It has guided programs for getting into a new style of exercise or targeting specific body areas.

The app itself has a clean and cute design, and it’s tethered to Obé’s roster of pretty and charismatic trainers. Overall, the look and feel is very millennial-friendly, which, let’s be real, is a true motivator for some.

There are also a ton of pre-recorded videos on demand that you can tap into at your leisure. I started with a dance cardio class and, while I may not have gotten a single move right, I worked up a sweat and had enough fun to keep going until the end. The fact that the classes are recorded live makes them feel more natural than a lot of other exercise tapes I’ve tried over the years, so it’s fun without being too cheesy.

For those looking to take video chat parties to the next level, Obé has a “workout party” feature where up to seven users can stream a workout video simultaneously.

Read our full review of obé Fitness.

Best beginner workout app for going at your own pace
sworkit workout app
Sworkit has classes that run the gamut, including family-friendly movement programs.

Pros: Super beginner-friendly; has classes for kids, older adults, pre- and post-natal; offers lots of guidance on form

Cons: Slightly narrower variety of classes (i.e, no dance cardio, kickboxing), classes aren’t in video format

Cost: One-week free trial, then $10/month or $60/year

Sworkit is a goal oriented-exercise app in the best way: You’re initially asked about your experience level and reasons for wanting to work out, and the app then suggests a program that suits you.

Its beginner programs isn’t going to knock you on your backside; if you’re not very active, Sworkit will have you start really slow with short workouts that focus on fitness basics. Rather than filmed videos, its workouts are sequences of moves with audio guidance and animation to help demonstrate, much like 7 Minute Workout.

I personally prefer a more traditional video format to guide my workouts, but I can imagine Sworkit being an appealing option for someone who prefers to go at their own pace, take their time, and focus on form.

Some of their programs are meant as add-ons to other workouts (say, just one or two moves rather than a full guided hour of exercise) so it’s easy to pick and choose small commitments that seem feasible.

Sworkit has robust offerings for people of all ages, including a section for older adults that focuses on mobility and low-impact moves. They also have a full section of sequences for kids and teens (available for free), which offers age-appropriate encouragement to get active. It’s also worth noting that Sworkit has guided stretches and movements for sore bodies recovering from workouts or injuries.

What else I considered
workout app
Guido Mieth / Getty Images
Nike Training Club: A fantastic app by the fitness giant, NTC is entirely free and has over 400 workouts ranging from HIIT to yoga. NTC didn’t make our final list because its workouts skew towards intermediate and advanced skill levels — but it’s definitely worth checking once you’re ready for new challenges. A large portion of the workouts are 15 minutes or less and they also have a selection of family-friendly movement videos for kids and parents.

Life Time: The popular fitness chain’s app, which costs $15/mo, includes classes and strength training instructional videos, as well as tools for tracking cardio. Most of their workout videos are in the 30- to 45-minute range, however, and I opted for apps that have more variety in class duration.

Core Power Yoga On Demand: This app features leveled yoga classes, including beginner-friendly ones that introduce and practice new skills. Users can also focus on specific fitness and
goals, like managing stress or working up the ability to do a handstand. We just found this app to have slightly less variety of classes for its price compared to other yoga apps.

Jazzercise on Demand: It’s not the manic dance cardio you grew up on. Jazzercise’s app is entirely modern, featuring full workouts of all types as well as guided stretches that are all backed by rhythm. The instructors are energetic, but down-to-earth.

Peloton: Whether or not you have your own Peloton bike at home, the app offers classes in HIIT, strength, yoga,
, and guides for walking and running both outside and on a treadmill. Like to work out with friends? It’s possible to interact with other participants in virtual classes, and friends can share their progress with one another.

Beachbody on Demand: Beachbody offers a huge array of classes (well over a thousand) in different disciplines, like strength, cardio, even mixed martial arts, as well as nutrition plans and activity tracking tools. Users can connect with each other and coaches for support and advice.

Mindbody: The core of the Mindbody app is its guide to in-person yoga and other fitness classes happening in your area, but those looking to get moving at home can also tune into virtual, live-streamed classes and keep track of their work with an exercise log.

Les Mills on Demand: Les Mills is a fitness video app with an impressive variety that includes HIIT and yoga as well as proprietary methods like BODYCOMBAT, a martial arts-inspired program. Les Mills offers plenty of beginner-friendly programs and instructional videos for those just starting out, as well as guided meditations and family-friendly movement videos.

Popsugar Active: If you like to keep things fresh with popular, influential trainers and trendy class styles, Popsugar’s fitness app — which is currently offering free membership due to the pandemic — has a variety of cardio, strength, and yoga routines, mostly in the 30-40 minute range. I didn’t find this app to be the most beginner-friendly, but the workouts are fun and definitely worth a shot once you’re a little more confident in your abilities.

How I test workout apps
When trying out each of these apps, I considered the following:

Variety: An app with classes in a lot of different disciplines is ideal for beginners who might not know what they like yet in terms of exercise. A wide variety of classes and styles is also good for keeping things fresh rather than boring and repetitive, so you’re more likely to keep using the app and to do so regularly.

Design: User interface and experience are important factors. If an app is confusing or unsightly, you’ll be less drawn to using it. Good, streamlined design makes an app more desirable and easy to use, which is key for making it a part of your routine.

Motivation factor: Does the app make it easy and desirable to get up and go? Variety is important, but the apps that impressed me the most were the ones that suggested specific workouts and programs so I didn’t have to thumb through an entire library of videos before getting on my feet.

Value: All of these apps offer free trials, which is what I used to try them out and I highly recommend you do the same if you’re still not sure which is best for you. That said, I did also pay mind to what each app offers for its price. All of the apps that were highlighted as being Best Ofs have enough value to justify the cost.

What to look for in a beginner workout
“There is no ‘best’ way to start exercising,” says Rena Eleázar, PT, DPT, CSCS, a New York City-based physical therapist and trainer. But there is a wrong way:

She cautioned aspiring gym rats from being too overzealous and pushing their body past their limits, both in terms of how hard and how often they exercise. Overdoing it, in the beginning, is a fast track to burning out and losing motivation and, most importantly, to injuring yourself since your body isn’t used to the movements and load yet.

Muscle soreness after a workout is normal but acute pain while exercising isn’t. Eleázar encourages newbies to modify moves when needed and go at their own pace. Therefore, it’s essential to define where the line is between pushing yourself and overdoing it.

“It’s okay to challenge yourself, but if you find yourself unable to do more than a couple of reps without feeling like your arms or legs are going to give out, you should probably modify the movement,” Eleázar said. “Expect to experience some soreness when first starting out, too. If it’s so bad that you can’t move the next day, then you may have done a little too much.”

Ariana DiValentino

Ariana DiValentino is a writer, filmmaker, and et cetera based in New York. She is very, very worried. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
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