Often, getting in shape is both expensive and stressful. You have to pay for costly foods of higher quality, a gym membership, and a trainer, plus dedicate hours per week to exercising and hard work. Over the past few years, tech giants are starting to realize how technology can transform health. They’ve begun to scratch the surface with features like activity rings and workout tracking.
Aaptiv is an exciting new app that fills the gaps iOS, watchOS and Android have left open. It offers audio fitness classes through your phone with real, certified coaches guiding you every step of the way. The app has hundreds of classes for various cardio exercises and even strength training routines. It’s a subscription that costs $9.99 per month or $49.99 per year, but if it can successfully replace a trainer, it’s money saved.
I decided to take Aaptiv for a spin for the past couple of weeks at the gym to see just how much technology can influence health.
Available Aaptiv Classes
Aaptiv has an impressively wide selection of classes and challenges. The app has audio sessions for meditation, walking, the stairclimber, treadmill, outdoor running, elliptical, indoor cycling, yoga, and strength training. It also has training programs for a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon.
You can also participate in various challenges or use curated playlists from the app’s specialty trainers. Aaptiv had monthly challenges for October, November and December (though curiously none for January and February.) It also has a section called Make The 8 with classes designed around specific goals: Run Faster, Run Further, Lose Weight, Get Stronger, etc. Finally, the curator’s playlist features themed categories from trainers like Greatest Hits of 2016, Candice’s Christmas Recovery and Jessica’s Better Booty.
What’s especially pleasing to me is the range of class options. Some classes last 10 minutes, others go on for an hour and there are plenty of options in between. Plus, classes are labeled by beginner, intermediate or advanced levels and include useful information like maximum speed and incline so you know what you’re getting into.
When I first got started, I wasn’t interested in taking any of the special challenges and didn’t know what to expect from the trainers. I was just eager to get started in a class relevant to my workout routine.
Taking a Class
I usually like to start out at the gym with at least a half hour run on the treadmill. I was nervous to start a class because I’m not in shape to run for the full 30 minutes, but took a leap with Candice Cunningham’s Pop on Repeat class. Before beginning, the Class Details page told me it’s a 30-minute class during which I should burn roughly 250 calories. The run is 2.5 miles with a max speed of 5.5 mph and max incline of 11 percent.
I hopped on the treadmill and tapped Start Class. Fast-paced music begins as I listen to Cunningham’s voice enthusiastically reassure me that I’m going to have a good workout. She goes over the basics then tells me what I need to do for warmup — which is to start walking at the slow speed and incline she specifies. She comes in to talk every once in a while and doesn’t remain silent for more than 30 seconds or so. When she speaks, music fades out to the background and when done, it fades back in at full volume.
Aaptiv really embodies “Guiding Tech” as a literal concept.
Aaptiv really embodies “Guiding Tech” as a literal concept. It’s technology with the purpose of guiding you along, in this case for optimal health. I was thoroughly pleased with how specific Cunningham and the other trainers got once I heard them out too. They encourage you along the way, try to ensure you have proper form, and map out exactly where the session is heading. I did liked some trainers over others. Some are a bit more detailed, but I’ve not yet been disappointed by any of the cardio workouts.
During a workout, you can pause it at any type or skip ahead 30 seconds. You’re not in control of the music and you can’t play your own. If that’s a concern, try to pick workouts with certain genres attached to them. I thought I wouldn’t like this, but I ended up enjoying the fast-paced music regardless.
I also highly recommend getting a pair of wireless headphones or earbuds for these Aaptiv workouts. They’re good to have at the gym anyway, but it’s freeing to set your phone down separately and just letting the trainer’s voice guide you. Plus, if you’re doing workouts with lots of intervals, moving around and adjusting a lot will tamper with a wired connection.
Aaptiv has an impressively wide selection of classes and challenges.
Aaptiv lets you save your favorite workouts to a favorites collection so you never lose them. Once you complete workouts, you can see your past history to refer back to them, plus stats on your performance. This includes the share of class types you’ve taken, total miles, minutes and calories burned. It also syncs your data with Apple Health on iOS.
Aaptiv delights me way more than I thought. When I first heard about the app I thought the classes would sound like boring audiobooks, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The trainers know what they’re doing, they keep you energized and motivated, and the music and classes are just fun.
At some point, I’d really love to see either Apple snatch up this company or build a feature like this into Apple Watch. Speaking of which, Aaptiv also needs to add Apple Watch support. That should be a must for an app like this.
I can’t help but feel like Aaptiv is just the beginning of a future filled with health-conscious tech. Trainers will get smarter about routines and apps and devices will get smarter with monitoring your moves.
Aaptiv isn’t for everyone. Skip it if you need a real trainer for motivation and to monitor proper form at the gym. At 10 bucks per month, it’s solid enough to act as a personal gym buddy while providing intelligently crafted routines and selected music playlists. Color me intrigued.