How we chose the best online fitness programs
In order to compile our guide to the best online fitness programs, we focused on services and brands offering online fitness classes written by certified personal trainers. In addition, where possible, programs that offer a free trial period, which normally ranges from seven to 30 days.
We also favored online fitness programs that answered our questions promptly, via either email, online chat, phone or social media. Why? Because getting fit is not the same process for everyone, so there is a good chance you will contact your fitness service with specific questions.
The best online fitness programs for home exercise are fun, varied and challenging, and are designed to help you get fit at home or outdoors. Most programs offer a wide range of online fitness classes, from yoga and HIIT, through to guided audio workouts for walkers and runners. As you would expect, the top online fitness programs come from the wellness industry’s biggest hitters like Peloton, Fitbit and Gaia, and have slick production values and more online exercise classes than you can shake a stick at.
Exercising at home is so much easier when you know what you are doing, and the best online fitness programs connect you with inspiring personal trainers and wellness coaches. So yes, not only will you be moving your body here, you will also be taking care of your sleep and reducing your stress levels through wellbeing practices such as mindfulness. The latter might be familiar if you have already downloaded one of the best meditation apps.
The World Health Organization recommends adults aged 18-64 to perform 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week. The best online fitness programs help you achieve that with cardio and strength workouts. Although, we would still recommend the best home gyms for proper weight training. Most online fitness class services offer free trial periods too, and depending on the program you choose, you will not need much exercise equipment either.
Of course, an online fitness program like Peloton Digital, developed by the brand behind some of the best treadmills, offers machine-based workouts. This is good, as varying your workouts stops you from getting bored and plateauing in your results. Thankfully, variety is the name of the game with the best online fitness programs. So, are you ready to break a sweat? Then let us find your ideal program.
Peloton Digital Online Workout
The best online fitness classes for pretty much everyone
As one of the world’s best online fitness programs, Peloton Digital is blazing a trail for better and more enjoyable at-home workouts. You do not need a Peloton bike to use the Peloton app, nor do you need a Peloton Treadmill (though we have our eye on the slick new Peloton treadmill arriving in 2021).
When Peloton first launched, it was mainly all about getting studio-quality spin classes at home. Since those early days, the brand has nurtured a global fitness community and, in addition to cycling based workouts, it has branched out into running, HIIT, yoga, aerobics and even meditation.
The Peloton Digital app (iOS, Android) gives you access to this world-beating online fitness-training program on your phone, tablet or laptop, so you can work out wherever you are. You do not even need any specific home gym equipment for many of the classes – just a mat on the floor, and sometimes not even that.
There are over 10 online fitness workout types to pick from, including Bootcamp, Strength, Cycling, Outdoor Running, Yoga and Stretching. In addition, there is meditation classes, though we recommend Gaia (see below) for exclusive yoga and meditation training.
Peloton launches new live and on-demand online fitness workout classes every day, with thousands of video workouts in its back catalog for you to exercise along with. Honestly, there is so much on offer with Peloton Digital that it is kind of unfair to all of the other brands featured in this guide.
Compared to the monthly cost of a gym, and the time spent commuting back and forth to it, Peloton’s online workout program is excellent value for money and could help you really strengthen and transform your body as well as nourish your mind.
Cost: $12.99 a month Trial period: 30 days
Syncs with Apple Watch
Huge variety of workouts
Can be used with Peloton kit
Generous free trial period
Download Peloton Digital from the App Store
Download Peloton Digital from Google Play
A great range of online exercise classes and wellbeing programs
Fitbit Premium is currently the wearables giant’s main online fitness program, and as such, you will find much here to help you exercise at home. When testing the program for our Fitbit Premium review, we found that a lot of the content was ideal for beginners and people returning to exercise after a long break. That said, there was plenty to push more users with a higher level of fitness and stamina too, including custom workout challenges carried out in the home and outdoors.
You can ‘favorite’ your go-to exercise classes, making it easier to find them again for a future workout, and the app is laid out so that you can scroll through all of the different exercise categories quickly. These include Abs & Core, Full Body, Lower Body, Upper Body, and For Kids.
Fitbit Premium also offers audio workouts for runners and walkers, and these focus on things like pace, stamina, and relaxation. For example, the 14-minute Clear Your Mind Walking Meditation is great for taking time out during a busy day – or to mark the end of one. We also love the 30-minute Gratitude Walk, which encourages you to focus on all that you have, rather than the things you do not.
While Gaia remains the absolute best online fitness program for yoga and mindfulness, the wellness content on Fitbit Premium is highly enjoyable and effective. We love how the platform focuses on each of the main pillars of good health, including de-stressing, and taking care of your mind and body with nutrition, regular exercise, and regular, consistent sleep. Our article on why is sleep important explains how snoozing an essential part of staying well is.
One of the best things about Fitbit’s online fitness program is that it displays an average amount of calories you can expect to burn per workout. You may not be motivated by calorie burn, but if you are sticking to a specific diet recommended by your doctor or a registered dietician and want to ensure you come in under a certain number of calories each day, this feature is handy.
Cost: $9.99 a month, $79.99 a year | Trial period: 90 days
Decent variety, from dance to HIIT
Guided programs on nutrition and sleep
Good for helping you de-stress
Advanced users may need more
Daily Burn Online Workout
A targeted online fitness program for weight loss and maintenance
If you want to lose weight, or have been advised by your doctor or healthcare practitioner to lose weight through a combination of regular exercise and a healthy diet, Daily Burn could be the best online fitness-training program for you. That is because it has a proven record of accomplishment of helping people to not only lose weight, but also to then maintain their new healthy weight.
If you need to reduce your BMI, Daily Burn Online Workout has a range of online fitness workout programs to help you make consistent progress. This is no flash-in-the-pan training that results in water weight loss and precious little else, rather it has designed to help you lose one to two pounds a week on average if you work out five-six times a week and combine that with healthy eating.
Daily Burn’s video and audio-based online fitness training programs include a 21-day Inferno plan, which finishes each week with a grueling AMRAP (as many reps as you can) session to keep pushing you. There is also Power Cardio (mixes weights with fast-paced cardio) Move (dance class), TBT (primal movements for increased mobility and flexibility), Kettlebells, Pilates, Mobility, and Core training.
When you sign up to the 30-day trial, you will answer a short questionnaire so that Daily Burn can get a better idea of where you are now, in terms of your fitness level, and your body goals. From there, you will get a personalized plan recommending specific workouts to help you achieve your goals.
There is diet and nutrition advice on offer too, via meal plans and simple, easy-prep recipes that should not take up too much of your time in the kitchen. In a nutshell, if you want a dedicated online fitness service for consistent weight loss, this is a great one to try, especially with that generous 30-day trial period.
Cost: $19.95 a month | Trial period: : 30 days
Generous trial period
You’ll get a personalized plan
Some of the teachers are OTT
The best online fitness program for mixing it up
FitFusion by Jillian Michaels is your gateway to multiple workouts targeted at helping you achieve a range of body goals, from toning and shaping to strength building and weight loss. Jillian is very empowering when it comes to helping you feel good about your body, and strives to help people feel stronger and happier.
Exercise is a good way to achieve this, especially in conjunction with a healthy diet, and there are plenty of fun yet effective workouts to be found on FitFusion.
If you have used any Jillian Michaels, home workout DVDs in the past, some of the workout series on FitFusion will be familiar to you – we are talking about the likes of Yoga Meltdown and Ripped in 30. These are all available when you take out a subscription to the online workout site. It costs $9.99 a month or $89.99 a year, and offers a free seven-day trial.
There are celebrity trainers on here too, including yoga superstar Tara Stiles, but there is no option to contact a personal trainer or pay extra for that level of guidance. You will have to structure your own workout routine, and find your diet and nutrition advice elsewhere. Still, if you like Jillian’s no-nonsense approach to training, there is much to enjoy here.
Cost: $9.99 a month, $89.99 a year | Trial: Seven days
Classes led by top trainers
Create your own workout routine
You may want something more custom
P.Volve Online Workouts
Trendy online fitness classes designed to sculpt your body
P.Volve is one of the trendiest online fitness training programs around right now, and is a full-body workout program that uses resistance-based movements that are high intensity yet low impact. These movements are created to strengthen and sculpt your body, and most are not too dissimilar to pilates.
P.Volve is based on the premise that, when building muscles, doing more reps using lighter weights is as effective as doing less reps with heavier weights. Good form is key, though. As such, all of the instructors will coach you on best form for the different movements they use in each workout.
When you sign up to the 14-day trial, you will gain access to over 200 online workout videos, with new classes added each week. Clearly that is far less than what is on offer with other services featured in our best online fitness training programs guide, but P.Volve is constantly growing, so you should not be lacking for workout videos anytime soon.
You can do each workout using only your bodyweight, or start incorporating P.Volve equipment such as ankle weights or a small workout ball (used during glutes and leg muscle exercises). P.Volve recommends beginners start with its Moves to Master instructional video, which teaches you the six foundational moves.
If you enjoy body strength training and have little room at home for equipment, P.Volve is a little odd at first yet surprisingly effective at sculpting and strengthening if you use the program five to six days a week.
Cost: $19.99 a month, or $101.99 for six months, or $179.99 per year Trial period: 14 days
Little equipment needed
Easy to do anywhere at home
Suitable for beginners upwards
You want something more intense
Download P.Volve from the App Store
Download P.Vole from Google Play
Gaia Yoga and Meditation
The best online fitness program for body and mind
Gaia online is one of the biggest and best online fitness training programs for yoga, pilates and body strength training. However, this is also a program through which you can access fun dance and HIIT classes, as well as meditation and mindfulness. You will also get access to documentaries and films relating to yoga, meditation and more.
A Gaia subscription costs $11.99 a month, or $99 a year (works out at $8.25 per month). For live access, including workshops, Gaia costs $299 annually (works out at $24.92 per month). The monthly cost is cheaper than The Fitness App by Jillian Michaels, and you get plenty more dedicated online yoga and pilates classes.
We love Gaia’s online yoga offerings, and you can search for classes based on your experience level. There are seemingly workouts here, from trail-blazing teachers, targeting everything from neck, back and hip pain, to helping you feel more energized in the morning or more relaxed in the evening. Practices covered include ashtanga, hatha, vinyasa, yin and yoga nidra.
You will never be interrupted with annoying ads during a class, and you can watch Gaia’s online workouts and classes on your smartphone, tablet or other device.
If you want to get seriously good at yoga, or you fancy using yoga, pilates and general fitness classes to get healthy, Gaia is a brilliantly laid out and very well-stocked fitness program that truly delivers. It is also the best online fitness-training program for your mind, thanks to its abundance of world-leading meditation and mindfulness classes to support you through everything from stress to insomnia.
Cost: From $11.99 a month | Trial period: Seven days
Expert yoga classes
Pilates and body strength training
Mindfulness and meditation classes
Live classes are expensive
Download Gaia from the App Store
Download Gaia from Google Play
Jillian Michaels: The Fitness App
Learn how to perform a range of exercises with a world-class fitness trainer
Jillian Michaels is one of the world’s best-known personal fitness trainers, so no wonder her online fitness program has over 7,500 ratings between the App Store and Google Play. When you download The Fitness App, you will get a seven-day free trial but you have to input your credit card details before accessing the free trial.
From there you will have a choice of signing up for a one-month recurring subscription at $14.99, a three-month recurring subscription for $29.99, or its $89.99 for the year.
Even though you have a choice of three different fitness levels – easy, medium or hard – bizarrely, all of the 25 online workouts presented to you will be the same regardless of which fitness level you select. So be honest with yourself about your current fitness level, and tag out of an exercise if it is beyond you at this time.
There are 24 different online workouts available via the app, including Fitness For Beginners, Quick HIIT, Yoga, Abs, Lean Legs, Weight Lifting and Functional Training, Walk a 5K, 5K/10K Run, Postnatal Bounce Back, and Burn 60.
We tried several different workouts during our review period, including the Weight loss Extreme 90, which sounds more intense than it is. This online fitness workout is designed to help you lose weight in 90 days, which is not an unrealistic period. The exercises are varied, and Jillian shows you how to perform each one (via a video) and how many reps to perform.
Fans of Jillian’s Yoga Meltdown videos will probably prefer the FitFusion offering further up this list, but there’s enough here for beginner and seasoned yoga fans. However, if you really love yoga and want to explore all different disciplines within this ancient practice, our recommendation is Gaia.
Ultimately, for the low monthly cost, The Fitness App is brilliant. There are plenty of workouts to keep you from plateauing in your progress, and having Jillian’s expert instruction regarding form is priceless for those who are new to exercise.
Cost: $14.99 a month, $29.99 for three months, $89.99 a year
Trial: Seven days
Customized exercise plans
Enjoyable meal plans
Phone and tablet use only
Online fitness workouts designed by a personal trainer
Franklin Antoian, one of Shape magazine’s ‘Top 50 Trainers in America’, runs iBodyFit. It offers a comprehensive selection of workout programs, with videos in a variety of categories covering aerobics, pilates, and machine workouts, among others.
When you head to the site, you will see a list of workout plans as well as options to receive personal training. The former included a Fat Burner Plan ($29 a year), designed to help you lose weight through daily workouts (beginner, intermediate and advanced levels catered for), a weight loss diet plan, and workout video library.
For only $20 more, you could access the Bundle Plan instead, comprising the Fat Burner Plan, the Muscle Toner Plan, and Beach Bod Plan, all for $49 a year. Again, you will get access to work out plans, videos and nutritional guidance.
For proper personal training and support, the company offers three tiers of monthly online fitness training support: Starter costs $49 for one month, VIP costs $99 for one month, and VIP Plus costs $149 for one month. Considering how expensive personal trainer sessions can be in gyms, the Starter package is tempting.
It includes a custom workout plan and diet, with workout support and feedback from a personal trainer. While it is frustrating that there is no app, you can track your personal progress on the site by inputting basic measurements such as your weight, waist and bicep size to see how well you are achieving your goals.
Overall, iBodyFit is as affordable as most gym memberships, and you can cancel without hassle. If the lack of an app does not bother, you, and you would like more personal online fitness training but without the steep price tag, this could be worth a look.
Cost: From $29 a year
Trial period: None
Plans written by a personal trainer
Exercise video samples
Great support and encouragement
Want to build muscle? These WBFF champions will show you how
Hitch Fit started with a bricks and mortar gym in Kansas City and since grown to include four actual gyms and a global online fitness-training program. While the company advertises itself as one of the best online fitness programs for everything from weight loss to bootcamp, we think they excel best at weight-based training. Therefore, if you want to get bigger muscles, this is the online fitness service for you.
We say that because two bodybuilding champions founded Hitch Fit, so they know a thing or two about what it takes to build an incredible physique from the ground up. As such, Hitch Fit offers a variety of workout programs centered around weight lifting and muscle building. It even offers a plan for competitive weightlifters looking to enter more competitions.
There is no app here, and the website design is sorely in need of an overhaul, but the quality of the muscle building plans is good. You get a diet plan, including a grocery list, plus personal coaching from the Hitch Fit personal trainers, including weekly direct feedback based on you giving them your latest stats. You also get access to a series of workout videos.
Prepare to pay far more for a Hitch Fit plan that you would for any other program featured in our best online fitness programs guide. These plans are expensive, so you need to be absolutely certain they are right for you because there is no trial period and no refund.
Hitch Fit exercise and diet plans are also very rigid, so prepare to spend a lot of your time per week doing cardio and strength based training, and preparing your meals and snacks. The diets can be quite high in protein and carbs, but this is common among any fitness-training program focused on gaining weight and building muscle.
Personal training from WBFF winners
Custom exercise and diet plans
Plans are quite rigid
Choosing the best online fitness program for you
If you have specific needs, such as pre- or post-pregnancy exercises, or you are recovering from injury (get doctor sign-off first), always choose an online fitness program that has been written by a certified personal trainer who is a specialist in the area you need help with.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the best online fitness program for your wellness and fitness goals…
Online fitness programs vary wildly in terms of cost. Some sites charge a monthly fee, while others bill you for programs or workout plans in a lump sum. We found that monthly costs start from around $12.99 upwards, with customized workout plans costing hundreds of dollars.
Selection of workouts
Every online fitness service we have reviewed offers standalone workout videos, so you can develop good form. These on-demand classes also mean you can watch workout videos at a time that suits you, instead of you having to organize your day around a specific fitness class.
Make sure that there is a good library of workouts on offer too, and covering different types of exercises, including strength or weights based training as well as more intense cardio exercises. You need both to have well-rounded fitness, and you will quickly get bored of doing the same workout day in, day out.
Does it offer a personal trainer, and do you need one?
Depending on the online fitness program you choose, you may have the option of working with a personal trainer who contacts you regularly to give you direct feedback on your performance, and to tweak the plan to your evolving fitness needs.
Personalized plans, including diet advice, with regular check-ins with a certified personal trainer are useful if you are the type of person who needs extra motivation and encouragement to stick with a workout plan. Especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Does it include nutritional advice?
If you’re looking for a holistic approach to losing weight or getting fit at home, the best online fitness program for you is one that offers nutritional advice (with a meal plan and recipes) so you can nourish yourself properly.
Eating a healthy diet is the best thing you can do for your overall health, and can actually help you lose and maintain a healthy weight when followed in conjunction with regular cardio and weights exercise.
How easy is it to use?
Most modern online fitness programs have apps that are compatible with a range of devices, so you can workout by watching videos on your phone, tablet or laptop. These are brilliant because you can then exercise wherever you are, even if you are away from home.
Best online fitness programs vs traditional gyms
Joining a gym might appear to be the most effective way to lose weight or stay in shape, but that is not always the case. While gyms do have various machines and weights for use, they can also be crowded and intimidating. You also have to sign up for specific periods, and cannot cancel as easily as you can with the best online fitness programs.
According to The Guardian, some consumer surveys have put the gym dropout rate at more than 80 percent in the first eight weeks of signing up. Working out at home with an online fitness service means there is no awkward locker room talk and no waiting for your favorite machine to become available.
One way to see which online fitness program is right for you is to look at the before and after photos. If a company does not provide any, we would recommend looking elsewhere. While the companies we reviewed are all above-board, make sure the photos you are seeing are not digitally altered or changed in any way. Better yet, look for customer testimonials and see what results others have achieved.
In order to be successful with an online fitness program, you will need to incorporate good nutrition. Many good programs include this element, and we do not recommend services that simply focus on burning calories.