The best workout apps for people who hate working out

Hate the gym? These apps let you workout (almost) painlessly.

Mercey Livingston CNET Contributor
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She's written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women's Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
Mercey Livingston
5 min read
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You may not need any fancy equipment to get in shape, but sometimes you do need some extra motivation to work out. Especially if you'd rather do, well, basically anything other than set foot in a gym. Love it or hate it -- there's nothing like the encouragement of having a personal trainer telling you exactly what to do and when to help you get off the couch and stay fit -- bonus points if they're fun to be around! But sometimes the time and money to take a class or hire a trainer is less than appealing (especially if you don't really like exercising to begin with). Enter fitness apps to save the day.

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So what should you do if you still want to get fit and stay healthy but hate gyms and don't want to spend much money? One solution is to try a fitness streaming app. They're inexpensive and you don't have to commit to a gym or studio to workout. You can work out whenever and wherever you'd like with almost no commitment -- it's arguably the best way to painlessly get in shape. 

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The apps listed below offer workouts that are free or inexpensive, quick, effective and, most importantly, fun. Because if you're going to exercise don't you at least want to be slightly entertained? Between dance workouts, celebrity trainers who are the best in the business, and workouts that last only 7 minutes -- you're bound to find something that works for you. 

Read more: Best smart home gym: Peloton, Mirror, Tonal and more  

FitOn App 

For the noncommittal exerciser who wants to try lots of different classes


The FitOn app features lots of different class types and celebrity trainers.

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If the idea of commitment and spending money immediately makes you want to quit an exercise routine, then the FitOn app is for you. Yes, it has a ton of hardcore workouts from celebrity trainers like Jeanette Jenkins and Casey Ho, but don't let that intimidate you. There are so many class options, that you won't ever get bored. 

Want to try Pilates one day and HIIT the next? You can with this app. And you don't have to do an hour-long workout -- they have workouts that are just 10 minutes long. And if you're not really sure where to start with an exercise program, you can fill out a questionnaire and you'll get a suggested workout plan. 

The Sculpt Society

Approachable, fun dance-based workouts for the nondancer 


The Sculpt Society app features workouts from celebrity dance fitness trainer Megan Roup.

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Love to dance but hate other forms of cardio like running? No need to drudge through another treadmill or elliptical workout. And if you're tired of Zumba, then good news. Dance cardio workouts are seriously trendy right now, and The Sculpt Society is one of the latest apps to launch from celebrity trainer Megan Roup. The Sculpt Society is one of the most popular workout classes in New York City (you'll always run into a celebrity, model or influencer in her classes), and now you can stream them from anywhere. 

If you're intimidated by choreography or remembering routines, you don't have to worry. The workouts are designed for nondancers and are super-easy to follow. The app includes four-week workout programs if you're looking for some structure. You also get 30-minute cardio workouts, 30-minute sculpting or toning workouts, 50-minute full-body workouts and options for shorter videos. The app includes meditation and stretching videos as well. 

The app is subscription-based and costs $119.95 for a year or $19.99 per month (which is less than taking one of Roup's classes in New York) and you can do a seven-day free trial before you commit.


Good for the person that needs accountability and a personalized, custom approach


The Ladder app gives you access to a personal trainer anytime from your phone.

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If you've ever wondered what it would be like to have a personal trainer, the Ladder app is the closest you can get without spending a ton to hire one. When you sign up for Ladder you get a personal trainer who will help you come up with a custom workout plan based on what you like and what equipment you have at home. You can also chat with your coach in the app and get fitness and nutrition tips, advice and answers to any questions you have. 

The best part? The app costs less per month than what one session typically costs ($50 a month). If you prefer workout classes, this may not be the app for you. But if you want a custom, straightforward fitness plan and access to a trainer, it's definitely worth a download.

Pocket Yoga

Great for the yoga-curious who wants to try a class without the fuss or pretentiousness of a studio 


Pocket Yoga is a great option if you've ever been curious about yoga.

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Yoga is one of those workouts that can seem really serious and intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Yoga can be a simple way to relax, destress, increase flexibility and strength. You don't have to go to a studio and feel lost -- so many yoga poses can be done from home (or anywhere) and all you need is some space to stretch and some guidance to learn the basics. 

And that's where Pocket Yoga comes in. The app is super customizable based on how much time you have and what you feel like doing. And if you aren't familiar or comfortable with certain poses, the app includes a dictionary with tips on alignment, form, and step-by-step instructions on how to do them.

The app is $2.99 and has Apple Watch integrations. 

The 7-Minute Workout

For someone who wants a no-frills, efficient workout they can access anywhere


You can get a quick, efficient workout developed with science in mind with the 7-minute workout app.

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When life gets busy, it feels like the last thing you want or have time to do is workout. When that happens, it's better to do something (even if it's only for 7 minutes) then to give up and not exercise at all. Plus, if you hate exercise or haven't worked out in a while, trying the 7-Minute Workout app is the perfect baby-step in the right direction. And, at least if these workouts aren't that fun or enjoyable, you only wasted 7 minutes of your life. Bonus points: the app is free.

The 7-Minute Workout app was designed by Chris Jordan, director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute. So you can count on the workouts being science-based and as efficient and effective as possible. The app can make recommendations for you based on your preferences and fitness level and can make a recommended workout plan for you. You can also integrate your own music, which is a huge plus -- is there anything less motivating than a bad workout playlist or working out to cheesy music you hate? 

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.