Aaptiv is a partner of Haven Life Plus — a rider included in the Haven Term life insurance policy issued by MassMutual that gives policyholders access to benefits that help them live healthier, fuller and more protected lives. Learn more about Haven Plus.
Editor’s note: due to COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus), Aaptiv has made some of their best at-home workouts available for free on Apple Podcasts. You can enjoy their free workouts here.
It’s not exactly news that regular exercise is a great way to be healthier, live longer and feel better about your body and about yourself. (Being fit can also help you get a lower rate when applying for life insurance, but we digress.) Point is: We all know that working out is good for us. But we all know how hard it can be to make time for it.
One secret? Choosing a fitness routine that works for you. Working out at the gym requires a lot of motivation and self-discipline Fitness classes, on the other hand, tend to be one-size-fits-all – either too hard or too easy – or just right but at the wrong time for your schedule. And sure, you could hire a personal trainer, but … can you really afford a personal trainer?
That brings us to Aaptiv. It’s an audio-based personal training app, which is basically like having a cohort of fitness trainers in your pocket. (One very large, very metaphorical pocket.) It’s also Haven Life Plus partner, which is just one way we’re encouraging you to live a fuller, healthier life.
To give you a better idea of what Aaptiv is all about, I took a few of its home workouts for a test drive. Before doing so, I went through the signup process, which entailed answering a short and mostly painless series of questions about my age (old enough), my current level of fitness (surprisingly high, for a writer), my fitness goals (maintain weight), when and how often I like to work out (a few times a week), and what kind of equipment I have on hand (none). You can also sign up for notifications and coach mode, which help hold you accountable and adapt your home workouts based on your performance and feedback.
Got all that? Good. Here are the classes I tried and my thoughts on the pros and cons of each.
Stretching: Move Into This
I started by getting loose with this 17-minute, yoga-influenced workout with Nicole S. The goal? Getting limber.
Pros: Mission accomplished. Moving was made easy by listening to the easy-to-follow directions throughout the routine. Nicole’s vibe was encouraging and positive, while understanding that some moves might be challenging.
Cons: If you miss or misunderstand a move, it’s easy to fall behind. That said, you can easily pause the workout and rewind 30 seconds with one tap.
Bottom line: While stretching has always been a literal sore spot for me, I ended this workout feeling good and limber.
Stretching: Get Your Stretch On
I did this hip-hop cool down after a few of the below workouts. Led by Amanda B., it’s a mellow way to relax your muscles after a particularly grueling session.
Pros: Easy-to-follow instructions, and the moves themselves were simple. A focus on breathing helped me calm my body.
Cons: At 15 minutes, it took longer than I wanted. But that probably says more about me than it does about Aaptiv.
Bottom line: This is one of a few cool-down options in Aaptiv, and a good choice for most people working out using the app.
Strength Training: Full Body Burn
This energetic workout is led by Ackeem, who calls the app users “skaters” for some unknown reason. That tic aside, his energetic instructions are just what I needed to get through this appropriately titled workout.
Pros: There are videos within the workout demonstrating each move. This is awesome, especially for novices. Ackeem’s energy is infectious, and the music features great beats, great energy and a welcome snippet of Snoop Dogg.
Cons: The very first move is a butterfly situp – a stretch that I can’t do (yet!). This was discouraging, but those who hang in there will be rewarded with a demanding, yet accessible, 45 minutes of exercise that works the full body.
Bottom line: Probably my favorite workout of the bunch. There were several circuits of pushups, mountain climbers, plank jacks (like a jumping jack, but in a plank position) and more. I felt spent afterward, but in a way that encouraged me to come back and do it again. This full-body workout incorporates the glutes, arms, legs muscles, and core while also providing a good level of cardio.
Warning: If you, like me, spontaneously decide to do this workout in your living room in your underwear, try not to do it on a day when the mowers come. Whoops.
Strength Training: Total Body Toning
This workout, led by Kenta S., is set to a bouncing pop soundtrack and lasts for 46 minutes.
Pros: This workout, and the overall vibe, is slightly more chill than Full Body Burn. The overall flow is stronger, starting with easy warmups and leading into a bouncing, high-energy workout before segueing to a cooldown. Kenta was the clearest instructor in terms of describing clearly what you’re supposed to be doing.
Cons: No videos demonstrating the moves, which might make this workout a little more challenging for beginners.
Bottom line: A nice complement to Full Body Burn, it left me feeling spent (in a good way).
Outdoor Running: Base Pace
As a frequent runner, I was especially eager to try Aaptiv’s running programs. I usually skip headphones when I’m out—it’s a rare opportunity to fully unplug—but made an exception here. First up? This half-hour interval workout, led by our trainer Wes.
Pros: The music is high-energy, and Wes is a thoughtful, mindful voice in your ear while you’re out there getting after it. Unlike many trainers, he knows how to get out of the way, letting you run in relative peace once he’s delivered your instructions.
Cons: If you’re an experienced runner, this exercise—three ten-minute intervals, broken up by short breaks for rest and water—might be a little remedial.
Bottom line: For those new to running, this is a great way to get your reps in without overdoing it, which paradoxically can be discouraging. Experienced runners will want to try something with a higher difficulty rating.
Outdoor Running: Athlete Status
This workout, another roughly half-hour running program, is more focused on honing your technique through tempo running. The trainer, Rochelle, is good at explaining the ins and outs of achieving and maintaining good form, which is why this training is helpful.
Pros: Whether you’re new or experienced, it’s always helpful to focus on how you can run better, not just faster or for longer. Those accustomed to running longer will find this useful on those occasions when a half hour for a run is all the time they have.
Cons: None, really — assuming you’re into tempo running.
Bottom line: While I can’t speak for all runners, I know that I prefer to focus on just going out and getting after it rather than on training – even though I know training is good for me. Those of a like mind might use this workout once then incorporate the exercises into their own routines.
Yoga: Restore Your Legs
There are a ton of yoga options in Aaptiv, but I started with “Restore Your Legs,” a suitably titled session led by Jade and her light New York accent.
Pros: At just 20 minutes, it’s the kind of workout you can do quickly first thing in the morning or right when you get home from work. The music is chill, and Jade’s directions are direct and clear. All you need is a mat.
Cons: If you haven’t done yoga before, don’t start here. Brush up on the basics with one of Aaptiv’s other yoga options.
Bottom line: This is an accessible yoga program, one you can do if you’re relatively new to the practice, but one that won’t bore you if you’re experienced. And again, it’s short, so I was able to fit it into an otherwise busy schedule.
Yoga: Radiance + Relaxation
Led by Jess, this 25-minute course is all about Yin Yoga, a specialty focused on slower asanas (or postures). Proceed accordingly.
Pros: This is described as “chill” in the app, and that’s a pretty good summation. You will hold the poses for a long time, and you will feel the burn accordingly.
Cons: If you are here for the workouts, you might not go for the more philosophical elements of the training — such as when Jess says that “our life as humans requires the support of others.”
Bottom line: Let’s just say that I am here for the workouts. And philosophy aside, this class delivers on those.
Meditation: Amplify Abundance
As a recent convert to meditation, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many meditation options in this app that I could integrate into my fitness routine. I went with this one, from Jess R., which had a convenient runtime of 10 minutes and seemed like a good place to start.
Pros: It’s beginner-friendly, as Jess starts by running through how to sit, how to breathe and where to focus your energy.
Cons: Jess R. seemed overly chatty to me. If you prefer your mediation to be more, well, meditative, this might not be the course for you.
Bottom line: I really wanted to like this one, but I found it just too busy for my tastes. I also didn’t care for the mantra of “I deserve good fortune / I deserve abundance”—that might be good for some people, but I prefer my meditative thoughts to focus on others.
Meditation: Deep, Healing Sleep
This nearly half-hour meditation from Nicole S. is meant for “any time you are longing for profound rest and rejuvenation.” So, naturally, I listened to it after a heavy lunch.
Pros: Let’s just say it works. I stopped taking notes on my experience somewhere around the 15-minute mark. When I came back to, it was over.
Cons: None, really, so long as you’re OK with using an app to help you fall asleep. Pro tip: Turn your phone facedown, and consider placing it out of arm’s reach so you’re not tempted to check your messages during the night (or during your nap).
Bottom line: The app says it best: “Your job is done / your job is rest.”
Find the workout that works for you
One of my favorite aspects of Aaptiv is that you don’t need any dumbbells or equipment to complete these online workouts. Whether you want high-intensity training, a full-body workout, or strength training, you’ll be able to find the perfect routine that complements your fitness level. With Aaptiv, you can easily create an at-home gym right in your living room. Whether you’re looking to do HIIT workouts, strength exercises, or cardio, Aaptiv makes it easy for you to get a total body workout.
Keep in mind, this is my review of 10 exercises, and the app has 1,700 classes and counting. I’m still exploring the remaining 99.6% of home workouts I haven’t tried yet and am doing so with the happy thought that, even when I find one I like, there’s almost certainly another one out there that I’ll love. Plus, the app provides little animated graphics, badges and other fun elements that make staying fit feel like a video game. Better yet, it’s a game where I’m the hero.