Have you ever gone to an exercise class and had the instructor either freak out or totally ignore you? Both have happened to me. If you do not want to join a gym, do not live near a gym, want to avoid all the hassles, or want to supplement a gym program, the Aaptiv workout app is a very good option that also offers a free trial.
Aaptiv is an all-audio app that you can put on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. An Android app is also available but is not being reviewed here.
Aaptiv is a mainstream app with an extensive list of workouts and trainers, and new workouts constantly being added. Aaptiv has workouts appropriate for beginners, experts, and everything in between.
The Aaptiv iOS App
The iOS app is compatible with iOS 11 or later or watchOS 5 or later, and can be found here. The app is free just for a trial; there is a charge if you continue after the trial. An Aaptiv subscription on the iPhone or iPad is required for the Watch app.
Although Aaptiv’s entry in the app store says iPod touch is supported, there is a banner at the top of the App Store page indicating that only iPhone and iPad are supported.
The App Store description reads as follows:
Let's say you're doing a treadmill exercise. You know, the kind where you occasionally change the speed and incline. Do you really need a video of someone telling you "it's time to go faster?" Nah. Aaptiv packs great audio–only classes for all those workouts that just don't make sense for video. Smart design, great music, and a huge library of classes make even the most hardcore exercises enjoyable.
Aaptiv lets you work out when you want, where you want, the way you want. Get unlimited access to audio–based fitness classes led by certified personal trainers. Find the perfect rhythm with a playlist of music you already know and love.
Experience more than 2,500 workouts in a variety of categories including running, elliptical, race training, rowing, strength training, stretching, yoga and more. With 30 new classes added each week, there's a workout for every interest and fitness level.
When you first open Aaptiv, there are two buttons: Try it Now and Log In. Activating the Try it Now button loads a new screen with four edit boxes for first and last name, email address, and a password. Next is a Join button. The first time I tried to join, I was told I hadn’t filled in all the boxes. I went back to the previous page and selected the Try it Now button. I re-entered my information and that time it worked.
The next screen was for choosing your primary health goal. Survey options included: lose weight, build strength, and stay fit. There is a Continue button at the bottom of the list. Unfortunately, VoiceOver does not verify that buttons are selected. This was true throughout the survey. The next screen asked "How do you identify yourself?" Options included Male, Female, and Prefer not to disclose. The next screen used pickers for selecting your birthday and the following screen asked for current fitness level. Additional screens asked about your workout schedule, how you like to exercise, your activity preferences, and equipment access. Finally, you are asked to choose a healthy habit to start, such as drinking more water or doing a daily meditation before sleep. The next screen asks whether you want Aaptiv to remind you about your daily habit.
The final screen is for subscribing. Aaptiv offers a 30-day money back guarantee. There are two payment plans: $14.99 per month, or save 44% by paying for the whole year at once. If you select either option, you will be brought to the Aaptiv payment page. If you do not want to subscribe make sure to select the Cancel button.
Below the two subscription buttons is a Close button. This will bring you to Aaptiv’s main screen. However, you will not have access to all of Aaptiv’s features, including Coach. There is a menu button at the top left of the screen. Selecting the profile option in the menu will present you with payment options. At the bottom right of the screen is a Join tab. If you haven’t joined yet, Aaptiv will send you emails with special offers to join.
Once you join Aaptiv, the bottom of the main screen has five tabs: Coach, Browse, Team, Programs, and Notifications. There is a menu in the upper left corner. The middle of the screen contains information related to the tab that is selected.
The Coach feature in Aaptiv uses the responses you gave to the survey you completed regarding physical activity and fitness goals. When the Coach tab is selected, there is a Weekly Agenda button near the top of the screen. Activating this button loads a screen with information about your daily streak (how many days in a row you’ve met workout criteria) and which workouts you should do on that day. There is an “Edit My Plan” heading where you can change workout days, activities, etc.
Workouts for the current day are listed further down the screen. For example, I do strength training on Mondays. Double tapping on the exercise category will display a list of recommended sessions. If I find something I want to do, I just select it. If I want something different, I can use the Browse tab to check what sessions fit my workout for that day.
I can also log a Non-Aaptiv workout in Coach. For example, if I went to an indoor cycling class, I can log it by entering the amount of time cycled and how many calories were burned.
When this tab is selected, the top of the screen is labeled Workout Categories as follows:
- Strength Training
- Outdoor Running
- Indoor Cycling
- Stair Climber
Next are collections of workouts with a central theme. Examples include Upper Body Focus, Your AM and PM routines, and Pilates collection.
Selecting any category will display a list of workouts in that category.
The third tab is Team. This is Aaptiv’s social media forum. From the top left of the screen, flick right until you hear, “Add new team post.” Select the button and write your post.
This tab contains a list of programs that Aaptiv has created. Programs include Intro to Yoga and Kettlebell Conditioning. Selecting any of the programs loads a new screen with workouts for that program.
This tab is where Aaptiv will notify you about different programs and challenges. For example, I received a notification when Pilates was added to Aaptiv. I also received a notification about how to edit my Coach Program.
In the top left corner of the screen is a menu button. When the menu opens, you will be at the bottom of the list of categories. There is a Close Menu button at the bottom.
The first option is Profile. The first control is a button to “Add new team post.” Next is your name and how long you have been an Aaptiv member. Next are your team posts. There is no Back button to return to the first level. Selecting a different tab on the bottom will bring you back to the button to open the menu. The rest of the menu options have a Back button in the upper left corner.
The next menu option is Stats. Here is where you can find information about your workout history including the number of workouts you did last week and how many calories you burned.
The next two menu items are Saved and Workout History. You can save any of your workouts. How to do this will be discussed later. The Workout History option displays a list of which workouts you have performed. Each listing has the name of the workout, the trainer, level, and length of time.
The next menu option, Invite a friend, is where you can send a friend a guest pass to try Aaptiv.
The final menu category is Settings. The member information and fitness profile that you entered earlier will appear here. There is an option to choose whether you want to receive notifications from Aaptiv. Next is Apple Health Tracking. Activating this option will give instructions on how to integrate Aaptiv with Apple Health.
Selecting a Workout
If you are new to a particular form of exercise such as strength training or yoga, try the beginner workouts. Trainers will explain the movements you need to do. Trainers also explain movements and exercises in more advanced workouts. Some workouts will be labeled as “all levels.”
If you are still not sure how to do an exercise, consider doing a Google search for the move. For example, if I wanted to learn how to do a shoulder press, I would put “shoulder press description” in the search box. If you just put “shoulder press” in the search box, you will get a lot of videos. I’ve also used Siri and Alexa. They are not always correct, but they frequently give correct descriptions.
Making Your Selection
When ready to choose a workout, make sure the Browse tab is selected. Near the top of the screen is the heading Workout Categories. The category list is below the heading. Double tap on the category you want to choose. On the next page, even before you get to the list of workouts from the category, there are two buttons: Sort and Filter. Since there are many workouts in each category, these buttons can save time. The Sort button lets you sort by newest, top rated, most popular, and most played. The filter button lets you sort by time, difficulty, trainer, and music genre. Once you have made your selections, double tap the Apply button. Select the Cancel button in the upper left corner to get out of the menu without filtering.
After the Sort and Filter options is a list of all workouts in the category you selected. Each listing has the name, equipment if needed, level, length of time, trainer’s name, music style, and rating.
Once a workout is selected, a new screen will load with specific information about the workout. There is an overview section giving a general idea of the workout, including the estimated calories you will burn.
The What You’ll Need section lists any necessary equipment, such as dumbbells or kettlebells. If you want to do strength training but do not have any equipment, there are many body weight workouts.
The What You’ll Do section gives a description of exercises in the workout. Some of the exercises will be listed. Get a list of all the exercises by activating the Show All Moves button.
The next section is Music from These Albums. This shows a list of albums from which songs will be heard during the workout. Next are options to schedule the workout, save it, download it, share it, or start it.
Once you start the workout, a trainer will introduce themselves and explain the workout. There are many trainers so experiment to determine whom you like. I have my favorites.
The trainer may suggest modifications, for example, doing pushups on your knees rather than a traditional pushup. Nobody is watching and it is not a test.
After the Workout Ends
When the workout is over a new screen will appear. If you are using the Coach feature, your daily streak will be listed. Next is a button labeled Frame It. This is for taking a selfie. Many Aaptiv trainers suggest you take a selfie and post it to their Team page. The final item is a Continue button.
On the next page is the name of your workout and an opportunity to rate it on a scale of one to five. Unfortunately, this feature is not accessible. The next item on the screen is Your Stats. This tells you the length of time of your workout and approximately how many calories you burned.
Next is a Continue button. Under the button is the option to save the workout to your list. By default, your Favorites and To Do lists have already been created. If you want to add the workout to either of those lists, double tap the list button and a new screen will appear. Double tap the name of the list and the workout will be added. You can also create a new list. At the top of the screen is a New List button. If selected, you will be prompted to name your list. Once you have finished naming your list, activate the Create New List button. You can access all your lists through the menu at the top left of the main screen. If you have chosen to download a workout, it can be located there as well. Under the List button is a Share button.
Activate the Continue button to get to the next screen. Near the top left of the screen is a Skip button. Use it if you do not want to post to Aaptiv’s social media. If you would like to post, there are options to add workout notes and post a photo.
Apple Watch App
The Aaptiv app requires watchOS 5 and the iOS app on your iPhone or iPad. Aaptiv’s watchOS app gives you access to workouts in your Favorites list. When the watchOS app is first opened, it will retrieve the list. You will need to download the actual workout onto your watch. Do this by selecting the workout on your watch. A new screen will load. Workout information will be at the top and a Download button will be on the bottom.
Aaptiv offers a very good alternative to going to the gym. The app has a couple of accessibility issues: it's not possible to rate classes and there is no VoiceOver feedback when selecting options for your profile. The rest of the app worked well. I recommend the free trial to determine if Aaptiv is right for you. Just remember to cancel it if you do not want to continue.
This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.
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