Disclosure: I was given access to the Openfit app for free for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own. All photos are screenshots of the app from my iPad.
I’m always looking for new options for strength training and cross-training. I know myself well enough to know that while I know I should hold a stretch for 30 or 45 seconds, if I’m DIYing it, I’ll almost always cut it short. I’m at my best when I’m able to follow someone else’s lead.
There is no shortage of apps available for stretching, yoga, and other workouts.
I’ve used the Nike Training Club (NTC) app for years, but recent changes (namely putting many formerly free workouts behind a paywall) to the app have left me looking elsewhere.
The newest app I’ve been testing out (and, spoiler alert, love) is Openfit.
What I Want In a Fitness App
Before I review anything, I take a few moments to consider what I want or what I expect, so I have a baseline to review the product to.
So, what I want in a fitness/workout app:
- A variety of classes/class lengths
- Easy navigation and/or filtering to find the best option for what I want/need/am in the mood for that day
- A variety of teaching styles
- Availability of beginner modifications, or at the very least, an acknowledgement that you may not be able to do all moves. Side note: this is one huge failing of the yoga classes on the Nike app, IMHO. The teachers are all super advanced and they never once acknowledge that people exist who may not be as advanced as they are.
Introduction to Openfit
Openfit is a subscription app (with a 14-day free trial available), with both iOS and Android apps and a channel on Roku.
Openfit can be used in one of three main ways:
- On-demand classes can be done a la carte
- On-demand classes can be done as a pre-determined plan
- Classes are offered live
On-demand classes are in five disciplines:
- 600 Seconds (10 minute workouts, largely cardio and strength)
- Rough Around the Edges (cardio/dance workouts put together by female stunt women)
- Tough Mudder (total body workouts)
Live classes are a bit of everything: strength, cardio (some designed to be used on the run outside or on the treadmill), yoga, stretching.
The app also has nutrition and meal plan/menu options, but I haven’t yet scratched the surface of those offerings.
Downloading the App
I tried Openfit on my iPad, my phone (a Samsung Galaxy something) and my Roku.
I had no issues downloading and using the app on my phone.
When I first downloaded the app on my iPad, it kept crashing. Two days later, Openfit updated the app. After this update, I could log on and have had no issues since.
My Roku can access the on-demand classes, but not the live classes. I’m not sure if that is true on all Rokus or just my older-than-dirt nearly first generation box.
There are multiple ways to find classes on Openfit.
You can review on-demand classes within each discipline, if you know, for example, you want a yoga or a barre class.
Or, you can review all workouts from the complete class menu. Within this menu, classes are broken down by discipline (strength, cardio), then by time (under 10 minutes, 10-15, 15-30, 30 minutes).
Live classes coming up in the next few days are also listed in this menu.
- I like that there are multiple ways to navigate through classes.
- There is no true filter for finding a class. However, there weren’t any times when I couldn’t find what I was looking for using the existing navigation options.
Personally, I prefer to set up my workouts in advance. I know the worst thing I can do is ask myself ‘What workout do I feel like doing today?’ That will usually result in me realizing I don’t feel like doing any workout and it becomes way too easy to talk myself out of working out.
When I set up a workout program in advance, I know I’m doing X workout on Monday and Z workout on Wednesday. I won’t question it and I’ll just do the workout (I’m kind of a sheep that way).
Each channel (barre, yoga, 600 seconds, etc.) has at least one pre-set up workout plan, most of which run 30 days, with a variety of workouts done every day of the program. Some (like yoga and 600 seconds) have multiple plans for different goals.
- I love that they have plans! Many workout apps don’t, and I know my results will be significantly better when I am not left up to my own devices.
- You can’t set up your own plan, either within a channel or between channels. Your options are either to use the plans they set up or pick a class day by day. I’d love the ability to set up my own on-demand workout calendar in advance.
- As designed, most plans have you working out every day – 30 day plans have 30 workouts in them. I’m a big believer in rest days, and not a fan of 7-day-a-week workouts. A workout everyday plan is also harder to work into my existing running/training calendar. While there is nothing keeping you from doing a 30 day plan and taking 60 days to complete it by working out every other day instead of every day (in fact, that’s what I’ve started doing with the 30-day Xtend Barre program), it still kinda feels like cheating.
My Workout Experience
So all that’s great, but a workout app is only as good as the workouts within it.
To test the workouts, I tried a plan, an on-demand workout, and a live class.
Xtend Barre Plan
The first workouts I did were the 7-day Xtend Barre On-ramp plan, designed to show all the different kinds of workouts within barre.
I really enjoyed these workouts. The first day was a 10-minute basics course, providing an introduction to the moves and positions used in barre. Then each of the next 6 days has a different type of class: barre, flexibility, pilates, ballet, and cardio. Each class was 30 minutes long.
I liked some of these classes more than others (largely because of my personal workout likes and dislikes), but overall I really liked them.
I find 30 minutes to be the perfect length for at-home workouts (any longer and the amount of potential distractions can make sticking with the workout a challenge). Each barre class is taught by the same instructor who gave lots of good form cues as we went. She got a little too 1980s aerobic instructor (‘alright, c’mon, you can do it!’) for my taste in the cardio class, but that is my own personal bias.
Full disclosure: I bailed 10 minutes into the cardio workout (the only class I didn’t do start to finish). Partly because the instructor was driving me bonkers, but also because I’d already done 15 workouts that week and run 8 miles that morning, I was exhausted, and not feeling another cardio workout.
Each of the classes also gives modifications, both to make the moves easier and harder. Bonus points that some of the people doing the workout in the background were actually doing the modifications, so you can watch someone emulating the move you’d be doing regardless if you are a beginner or super advanced.
Note: All the workouts in the plan are also available to do a la carte.
I’ve tried many workout apps before, but Openfit offered something I’ve never done before: a live, virtual, class.
You pick a class, then log in at the allotted time.
There is a live instructor who can see you and give feedback (if you allow access to your camera) and chat with other participants.
Side note about me before I comment on live classes: I’ve taken many gym classes over the years. I like taking classes so I can be told what move to do and how long to hold that move. I’m a total introvert and don’t want or need the social aspects of classes and while I appreciate getting form pointers, I don’t need instructors to be workout cheerleaders.
I had a hunch live classes weren’t gonna be my thing, but I still wanted to check them out, so I took the live foam rolling class.
It was a great stretching class with the instructor doing the usual instructor pep talks.
This is a fun option, but it’s not for me.
However, I recognize that for extroverts, for people who like to have someone waiting for them for accountability, or who want the encouragement or feedback from a live instructor, this would be a great option.
It also could be a fun option for long-distance friends to take a virtual class together.
Note: Most live classes are also available on-demand if you prefer on-demand or can’t make the live class time.
I also took a few on-demand classes including ‘Mobility Flow’ yoga.
As I mentioned, these are the same classes that make up the various plans discussed above.
The yoga class was a video of a single person doing the moves, while the instructions are given in voice over. This isn’t good or bad, just a different style than I’m used to.
There weren’t many modifications, but yoga classes are all already broken out into levels 1, 2, 3, based on levels of difficultly. I took a level 1 class. I can only hope that there are modifications given for the harder level classes.
All the classes I took or looked into are designed with at-home workouts in mind. Some classes assume you have basic home workout equipment like hand weights, but no other equipment is required unless you are taking a gear specific class (like foam rolling or treadmill).
My only nit-pick with the classes is I wish there was a way to make notes on the classes I take (so I can remember which classes I’d like to do again), or to save favorites to a quick list, since I’m sure I’ll soon find a core list of go-to classes.
Overall, I really, really liked Openfit.
When looking back at what I want in a fitness app, it checks all the boxes:
- Many types of classes ranging from 5ish minutes to 40ish minutes
- Multiple ways to search for classes
- Lots of different teachers and teaching styles, both live and on-demand, for whatever style you prefer
- Beginner modifications were available for nearly every class.
The few quibbles I have (not being able to make a favorite workouts list, not being able to make up a calendar in advance for on-demand classes) are minor and would be nice to haves more than need to haves.
In the vast sea of workout app options, I’m glad to have discovered Openfit, and I’m sure I’ll be working my way through many of the classes over the next year.
Drop me a line if you are in Openfit, we can take a class together – let’s see how fun it is to take a virtual class with friends!