Workout videos (and gym fitness overall) have come a long way since Jane Fonda’s Workout from the 1980s. Now, in the age of Netflix and Hulu, all you really need is a phone or tablet and an internet connection to take a virtual exercise class anytime, anywhere.
Streaming workout subscriptions, and the apps you use to access them, do the same thing those old exercise VHSes and DVDs did: bring the gym to you and allow you to do strength training, HIIT or cardio workouts on your schedule. But they go a step beyond by offering large libraries of fitness classes that you can stream unlimitedly — just like Hulu and Netflix do for movies and TV shows.
Apple Fitness Plus vs. Peloton
You pay a flat monthly fee to stream unlimited workout classes on your TV, computer, tablet or phone. Usually these classes are prerecorded and available on demand, but some services — such as Peloton and Daily Burn — also offer live classes that you can tune into.
With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which workout plans are worth your money. In this guide, I cover the best streaming workouts you can buy and what to consider before signing up.
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Just a note that I am purposely not covering any services for fitness programs that are exclusive to a specific product, such as Mirror or FightCamp. This list includes services anyone can sign up for, without purchasing any workout equipment to get started. We update it periodically.
Best workout subscription apps
Cost per month
Apple Fitness Plus
iOS, Apple TV — Apple Watch is required to use it
iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, web browser
iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, web browser
CorePower On Demand
iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, web browser
iOS, Apple TV, web browser, Chromecast (coming soon)
7 days with an annual $99 membership
iOS and Android
iOS, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, web browser
iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, web browser
TA Online Studio
*With the purchase of an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer.
**Special pricing available for students ($7), military personnel ($10), teachers ($10), health care workers ($10) and first responders ($10).
Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET
Apple Fitness Plus is designed exclusively for people who have an Apple Watch and an iOS device (and optional Apple TV). You need an Apple Watch to use the service, which offers a variety of workout class types, including core, HIIT, strength, yoga, rowing, cycling and treadmill running.
The service is very beginner-friendly, with a series of workouts for those who are just starting to work out, or who are coming back to exercise after taking an extended break. The service also learns what you like — as you complete workout classes, Fitness Plus will start to suggest new workouts to try.
Once you start a class, your Apple Watch syncs your heart rate and calories burned to Fitness Plus, where you can see those stats on the screen in real time. You’ll need an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer and either an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV to use Fitness Plus.
The service costs $10 per month, or $80 per year. If you buy an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer, you can get a free three-month trial.
Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET
True to its name, Daily Burn offers new daily classes at 6 a.m. PT (9 a.m. ET). If that time doesn’t work for you, you can always watch the recorded version later in the day, plus so many more.
Daily Burn aims to help everyone get fit, regardless of fitness level. By answering a few questions about your goals — weight loss, burning more calories, toning, improved fitness — the service can create workout and nutrition plans for you.
Because the company has been around since 2007, there’s a lot of variety of video classes with Daily Burn. You’ll get everything from pilates and exercise basics to high-intensity interval training and kickboxing. There are even pregnancy and postpartum workouts.
Daily Burn has one of the more generous free trials — 30 days. After that, it’s $20 per month.
Daily Burn also has standalone Yoga membership for $10 a month, a Running app for $8 a month and a HIIT membership for $13 a month.
Yes, Peloton sells a Peloton bike that includes a subscription to its streaming workout content. But you don’t have to buy a machine to access those videos.
For a monthly fee, you can stream unlimited bootcamp, strength, yoga, running and cycling classes, with and without equipment. There are also audio-only classes for outdoor runs. The subscription is normally $13 per month, but Peloton offers discounted monthly rates for students ($7), military personnel ($10), health care workers ($10), teachers ($10) and first responders ($10).
The Peloton app has livestreamed classes available every day, and you can pick from the on-demand options whenever you want. Each class provides a training plan so you know what to expect before you start.
Peloton offers a 30-day free trial to get started.
Do you already like yoga, but wish it was more… intense? CorePower is for you. The company has yoga studios all over the US, but you can also take classes virtually with CorePower on Demand.
Classes range from CorePower’s full-body yoga flows and sculpting to meditation and technique lessons. There are new classes released every month to give you variety.
If you, like me, prefer a more traditional yoga approach, Glo (which used to be YogaGlo) is one of the most popular subscriptions out there. It has a vast network of teachers who have produced hundreds of yoga, pilates and meditation classes. If you are just starting out with yoga, or are looking to improve your poses, there are more than 80 programs to guide your practice.
There are classes from many different styles including hatha, yin, vinyasa and iyengar, and there are classes for every level of experience within those styles. Like CorePower, Glo also has high-intensity conditioning classes for building core strength, toning and getting your heart rate up.
Glo gives you a 15-day trial and it’s $18 per month after that.
Aaptiv is unlike the rest of the services on this list in that it is audio-only. What makes it so great is that you can use Aaptiv to coach outdoor workouts, including running and cycling, and workouts on a treadmill, exercise bike or elliptical. Aaptiv also has classes for yoga, strength training and other indoor workouts.
All told, there are about 2,500-plus workout classes, with around 30 more added weekly. You can pick workouts based on time, difficulty level, trainer and even choose the music you want to hear. If you ever need cues on how to perform an exercise more, you can use Aaptiv’s visual workout guides which show you how to perform 250 movements, such as deadlifts or dumbbell rows.
It costs $99 per year with a free seven-day trial or $15 per month (without a trial).
Ballet-inspired barre classes are a wildly popular way to tone your body. There are plenty of nationwide studios teaching barre, but you can also take them online. Barre3, which has studios in 33 states plus the Philippines and Canada, has a streaming subscription with more than 500 classes.
Videos range from calming yoga-like flows to challenging balance and flexibility workouts. There’s a new 30-minute class added every week. While you don’t need any equipment to get started, Barre3 recommends getting a few props: a core ball, a resistance band and lightweight dumbbells.
There’s a free 15-day trial, and after that it’s $30 per month.
Rather than heading to a Crunch gym in person (or if you don’t live anywhere near one), you can get some of its popular classes at home.
There are more than 85 streaming workout videos available, all inspired by real classes taught at Crunch and hosted by Crunch instructors. There are also often real Crunch members in the videos.
Classes include total body bootcamp, kickboxing, yoga and barre, and they are organized into playlists like “No Equipment Needed” and “Quickies,” which are just 15 minutes.
It’s free for current Crunch members, or $10 per month with a 10-day free trial for everyone else. You can also pay $90 for a year-long subscription.
Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET
Do you really want to work out with a celebrity trainer? Then go straight for Tracy Anderson’s TA Online Studio.
Tracy Anderson has become a favorite of Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Downey Jr., Kim Kardashian and Madonna for her research-backed “Method” that asserts that anyone can get lean and muscular.
Since most of us can’t flock to her studios in Manhattan, LA, Madrid or the Hamptons, she offers online classes you can take anywhere. There are workouts for every fitness level, from beginner to advanced, and they are a mix of dance cardio and muscular structure classes, designed to work your accessory muscles to ultimately tone your entire body.
The TA Online Studio does not come cheap. It’s $90 per month, or $809 annually (Which is $270 cheaper than one year of classes paid monthly). There’s also a free two-week trial to get started.
What are the benefits of workout streaming subscription?
First, almost all of the fitness streaming services are cheaper going to a gym or fitness studio for your workout routine. Most cost around $10 to $30 per month — which is often as much as you’ll pay for a single class at a studio.
Second, just like the fitness DVDs and VHS tapes of yore, you can work out wherever and whenever you want. In fact, it’s easier with a streaming subscription because you no longer need a DVD player and a TV. You can access videos from your phone or tablet or computer.
So when you’re traveling, or if you’d rather not go to the gym, fitness streaming services make it easier to work out at home.
Read more: 8 ways to measure your fitness that aren’t heart rate
The biggest downside of a streaming fitness service is that you’re working out on your own, without a trainer to correct your form. That’s generally fine if you are already an experienced exerciser who has taken IRL classes, but if you’re a beginner, it might be hard to master moves on your own.
The flip side of that is that if you feel embarrassed or nervous about going to a real class, working out on your own can be a good way to build confidence.
You also need to carve out space in your home to exercise, and it can be hard to put aside household chores or get time away from your kids when your home is your gym.
As always, proceed with these programs at your own risk and start slow if you’re new to exercise.
Read more: Best budget fitness tracker: Fitbit Inspire HR or Mi Band 4?
How to choose a workout subscription
When deciding what fitness streaming subscription to get, here are some of the most important factors to consider.
What’s the cost?
Some streaming fitness services can get pricey, but most are usually less than the cost of a single class at a fitness studio.
Do you need equipment?
Most streaming fitness programs offer a mix of videos with and without equipment, such as dumbbells, resistance bands or a heart rate monitor. If you’d rather exercise without buying any equipment, pick a service that has enough variety of classes that don’t require it.
Read more: Should you stretch before or after your workout?
How will you stream?
Are you planning to work out in front of your TV, or using a workout app on your phone? Most services offer iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, Apple TV or Roku apps, but always check to make sure you can stream your workouts where you want.
Read more: How to recover from a tough workout
Does it align with your fitness goals?
Obviously, if you’re into a cardio workout, you’re not going to pick a service that only does yoga. Take a look at the classes each streaming service offers before you sign up.
Options like Peloton Digital, Daily Burn, Crunch Live and Aaptiv offer the greatest variety of classes.
More fitness recommendations
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.