Fitness Apps to Keep You Motivated

July 06, 2020

a person

By Madelyn Geier and Caittlynn Depew, SIUE Senior Interns in Exercise Science

Why use exercise apps? 

A great benefit to owning a smartphone is the ability to have guided, structured, and well-crafted workout programs right in your pocket. Fitness isn’t just an attendance grade at the gym - we should all be striving to make incremental progress and continue to push ourselves daily. Many people, however, don’t have the know-how to build their own programs and turn to personal trainers for guidance. 

While personal trainers can be an invaluable asset to your health and fitness routine, they can also be expensive.  Many people, particularly students, live within a tight budget and can’t always afford this investment.  Lucky for us, we can tap in to the next-best-thing and download our own personal trainer via one of the numerous fitness apps! These apps include detailed workouts, voice-guided pacing, examples of form, and videos to follow along with all while tracking our progress.  The list below includes a review of just a few of the available fitness apps, but more will be added to this list as we try them out! 

Fitness App Reviews 


JEFIT is a comprehensive workout app focused on weightlifting and resistance training. Regardless of your body goals, resistance training is something that everyone should incorporate into their regular workouts because keeping your body coordinated and strong is extremely beneficial to your health. JEFIT features comprehensive full-body workouts tailored to your ability level and what equipment you have available. The app touts its 1300+ exercise catalog, which includes HD videos demonstrating the movement and full written instructions.  

This is great for those people who like to go to the gym alone and don’t want to pay for a personal trainer or rely on a coach. The app shows you how to do each exercise safely and with good form. The actual workouts are also tailored to a variety of different gym-goers. There are programs focused on building muscle and size, programs focused on fat loss, and programs that prioritize bodyweight and calisthenics movements. 

The app includes full functionality for tracking and logging your workouts so that you can see a visual representation of your sets and rep weights going up over time. Recording your workouts lets you see stats visualized over time, which you can also share with your friends using the app’s social functionality which lets you connect with other people and share progress. 

The “discover” page of the app features fitness blogs written by the JEFIT team and write-ups over fitness programs and new scientific data.  

JEFIT is completely free to download and comes with access to its workout trackers, free programs, and some social features. Users have the option to pay a yearly or monthly subscription that removes ads, and grants access to features like advanced analytics, “elite” workout programs, and advanced exercise instructions. JEFIT is one of the most downloaded fitness apps available for smartphones and is currently sitting at 4.4 stars on Google Play and 4.8 stars on iOS.  


Nike Training  

Nike Training is an app developed by sportswear company Nike and is a great free resource for core workouts, strength training circuits, and trainer-led guided workouts. What’s great about this app is the level of guidance you have in many of the workouts. It features a large suite of pre-recorded training sessions where you workout alongside professional trainers.  

Many of these workouts are perfect to do at home on an exercise mat because they rely on bodyweight exercises and HIIT-style workouts. The workouts are organized into four sections: Endurance, Mobility, Strength, and Yoga. Each section includes several free workouts which include video demonstrations of exercises. This app is good for beginners and exercise veterans alike because there are a variety of workouts which are organized from beginner to advanced.  

Like most fitness apps Nike Training includes a feed with blog posts regarding nutrition, fitness, and exercise. There are also social features such as achievements, stat-tracking, and the ability to share your workouts and progress with friends. Overall, this is a fantastic app for people of any fitness level who are interested in home workouts or guided workouts using gym equipment.  

Nike Training is free to download and includes in-app purchases. Some of its premium features include tips from experts on nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle habits. There are also some programs and guided workouts which require a premium membership. Nike Training currently sits at 4.1 stars on Google Play and 4.9 stars on iOS.  


Couch to 5K 

Couch to 5K is an endurance training app that follows a structured training program designed to get you from sitting on the couch to running a 5K in only 9 weeks. Many of us have spent too much time indoors this year so a program like this is perfect for getting back into shape. The app features a virtual coach that tells you when to adjust your pace and has full GPS and music compatibility in-app.  

The best thing about Couch to 5K is that if you stick to it, you’ll be following an excellent running program that is properly paced so that you don’t burn out and you are able to make consistent progress every week. It doesn’t start you off sprinting and hyperventilating- each workout is comprised of several burn and conserve phases where you will either be running or walking. This allows your body to acclimate to long-distance cardio without exhausting you every workout.  

If one of your goals is to take up running, this is one of the best fitness apps you can get on a smartphone and will be a fantastic investment in your health. While strength training is important for maintaining a balanced and healthy physique, cardiovascular training, such as running, is equally important and will improve your endurance in everyday tasks.  

Couch to 5K is available for $2.99 on iOS and Android. It currently stands at 4.6 stars on the App Store and is the #4 fitness app. On Google Play it has 4.4 stars. 



Sworkit is unique in that it allows you a large amount of customization in your exercises. When you log in, you choose your training level of beginner, intermediate, or advanced. You can then select the goals that you want to achieve through this program. The options include gaining muscle, increasing flexibility, and toning up. After you've made your choices, the app creates an exercise routine for you. If you are short on time and don’t want to mess with that, you can choose one of the pre-made routines. They offer a ton of options including yoga and running, and also include videos that show you how to perform each exercise.  SWORKIT also includes a "rehab area" if you are experiencing any pain or tightness which includes stretches and exercises that can help alleviate the problem. 

Sworkit has a music feature that allows you to choose a playlist based on what you're feeling. "Throwback Jams" and " Yoga Inspired" are just two options you can listen to. This app can sync with other apps such as My Fitness Pal, Apple Health, and Google Fit. 

Sworkit has a 7-day free trial and then they have two payment options. Annually, you pay $59.99 or you could do monthly at $9.99. If you love this app and are able to spare the extra cash, the annual membership is a better deal. It breaks down to about $4.99 per month. Sworkit is rated a 4.7/5 in the Apple App Store. 



Aaptiv is another app that is pretty great.  What makes Aaptiv different from other fitness apps is that users listen to the routine instead of watching it in a video form.  While this has its advantages for those who are comfortable following directions just from hearing, it can be problematic for those that are new to exercise and need to see the movement performed. Proper technique is so important when you exercise that I would be concerned for those who are not familiar with more complex moves. This app also does not track your progress, so a separate app or way to track progress would be needed for those that want that function.

Aaptiv offers a 30-day free trial, followed by two payment options. You can pay an annual fee of $100 or monthly at $15. A key benefit to this app is that college students receive a 50% discount!  Aaptiv rates 4.7/5.


Note: these app reviews are written by the SIUE Exercise Science Interns based purely on their own experience.  There is no relationship between these software applications and SIUE or the Exercise Science program (students or faculty). 

Categories: All Categories, fitness apps, exercise, internships