Here’s What Happened When I Worked Out with a Fitness App

Hello, freedom (and soreness)
Published April 29, 2019

I’ve always loved being active— I grew up playing lacrosse, swimming and skiing on family vacations, but it wasn’t until college that I “worked out.” Even then it was more of a social endeavour: tagging along with friends who seemed like they knew what they were doing or taking a group fitness class at the student rec. I rarely stepped foot in the gym on my own and even then, I actively avoided the weight room. I was afraid of being judged, intimidated and simply didn’t know what to do when I got there. My attempts at working out involved me staring at others trying to get some ideas, and then just resigning to jog on the treadmill for a very boring 30 minutes.


For me, group fitness classes are the most effective and fun. I love the music, energy, instructors, and most of all, that I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do or worry about not knowing how.


It’s not always easy to schedule and follow through with group fitness classes, so workout apps were my next go-to. I’ve tried the Nike Training and Run Apps and other workout plans like Kayla Itsines. My college roommate recommended I try Aaptiv, and I used it religiously until I graduated. Between commuting an hour to and from work each day along with busy summer weekends, I couldn’t find time to fit in a workout. Recently, I downloaded the app again and it’s safe to say, I’m hooked... and sore.




What is Aaptiv?


Aaptiv is an on-demand audio fitness app with everything from strength training to outdoor running , boxing and meditation for all levels that you can do pretty much anywhere. (The version in the WW app is just a taste of what it offers.) It brings all the same encouragement, expert guidance and motivating music that comes with a boutique fitness class without the price tag.




My first Aaptiv strength-training workout


When you download the app, you’re prompted to fill out a fitness profile with your goals, fitness level, and where and when you plan on exercising. After set-up was complete, I headed to the gym and laced up for my workout.


I scrolled through hundreds of workouts and finally decided on Booty Gainz with Kenta, a 27-minute lower body and dumbbells workout with a pop (all Usher) playlist.


Luckily, the filtering in full app experience is amazing.  You can sort through workouts by category, level, equipment or start a program with a collection of workouts like Total Body Training and Master the Marathon. I particularly love being able to filter workouts by music genre, and artist (yes, I want 10 workouts with Missy Elliot playlists.) Good music makes or breaks a workout for me. If I don’t have headphones, I won’t workout. And worse, if I don’t like the music, I’ll get bored and either head home or revert to my ways of just walking on the treadmill to my overplayed top hits soundtrack.




With “DJ’s Got Us Falling in Love“  on full blast, the trainer, Kenta, gave a quick intro and overview of the workout: some lower body and mat work. Within seconds, I’m told to head straight into jumping jacks and the fun began. The rest of the workout was a combination of squats, lunges, curtsey lunges, and then a cardio move separating circuits — it flew by. For each exercise, Kenta would give a brief instruction of how to do it, then his voice would disappear leaving you with the music to move you through the time. Just when you’d start to wonder how much longer, he’d chime in with updates, like “ten seconds left,” or a quick, “nice job!”


It honestly felt like I was working out with a personal trainer. There was a combination of helpful comments, like reminders on proper form balanced by encouragements. It was conversational, motivating and just the right amount of instruction, so you could still enjoy the music. I felt confident in what I was doing, and because the music and exercises are so fast paced, there wasn’t an opportunity to get distracted or bored.


The hard part is that there isn’t any visual exercise instruction. I have mixed feelings about this. With no visual help, you can’t see examples of the exercises, and if you stop listening, you’ll get lost. (Something that happened to me at least four times.) I have a pretty solid understanding of the proper form to do while performing the most basic exercises like squats, lunges, and planks, so I didn’t have to stop and look up the exercises. But I did find myself staring into space (apparently with a very confused look since someone asked if I needed help) while trying to listen and figure out what I was supposed to be doing. I ended up having to rewind a few seconds to catch up.


On the other hand, with apps like Kayla Itsines’ Sweat, there are only visuals with no coaching during the moves and that doesn’t create that personal training experience and that is really what separates Aaptiv from the other apps I’ve tried. Overall, I made it through with only a few rewinds and by the end of the workout, I was sweating and my legs were shaking. I knew I would be sore the next day.




On to the cardio workout


The real hidden gems of this workout app are the cardio workouts. I’m not a runner, I’ve tried. And let’s be honest, cardio can be boring. It takes a special kind of focus to keep up a jog or steady elliptical workout for 30 minutes–especially when you’re stuck indoors during the cold months.


Some of my favourite Aaptiv workouts are indoor cycling, stair climber and treadmill. I love using the shorter ones as a quick warm-up before a strength-training workout. The curated music that matches the intensity of the exercise and encouragement from trainers, helps make the cardio workouts surprisingly fun and doable. You can safely challenge yourself with intervals, hills, HIIT, endurance training and combinations of cardio and strength. They help transform average cardio sessions into effective workouts that make you feel like you’re taking a boutique fitness class at the Mile High Run Club or SoulCycle.





Whether you’re a beginner looking to build strength and endurance, or at an intermediate level looking for ways to explore different types of training equipment, Aaptiv gives you the tools to take on a sweat-filled, heart-pumping workout. I love that no matter where you are—the gym, outside or home, you can find a workout that fits your style and ability. It helped me gain the confidence to train in a weight room and tackle any workout without fear of being judged or intimidated.