The struggle is all too real: You sign up for a gym membership, but then don’t know how to make the most of your time to accomplish your fitness goals. And while the easiest solution to that workout woe is to enlist the help of a personal trainer, that’s not always in the financial cards. Heck, gym memberships alone can make a serious dent in your paycheck—nevermind a personalized (and costly) fitness plan from a pro.
The good news: There are plenty of awesome alternatives that provide all the knowledge, encouragement, and tips of a fitness pro without the hefty price tag. And the best part? They’re all just a click, swipe, or tap away. These amazing fitness apps and websites will help you sculpt your strongest, leanest, fittest self—but don't drain your bank account.
Nike may be a universal go-to for fitness gear, but the athletic wear powerhouse offers a seriously cool (and free) workout app. You'll gain access to over 100 workouts created by the brand’s master trainers and pro athletes—including Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, NBD—and choose between yoga, HIIT, Pilates, and running workouts. To top it off, the app also gives you the option to create a four-week workout program. Just set your fitness goal (get lean, toned, strong, or focused), choose your level, decide if you want to add some running to the mix, and go. (Free; iOS and Android)
This app puts the “personal” in (virtual) personal trainer. You start off with a fitness test—just like you would IRL. Based on your results, the app places you into a fitness level and takes that into consideration (along with your feedback post-workouts) as you progress through your the program of your choice: Get Lean, Get Strong, or Daily Dose. And in case you want to go rogue, you can choose from more than 20 “freestyle” sessions, which include a 10-minute abs routine and an 11-minute date-night routine for a quick calorie burn. If you opt for the premium content, you get unlimited access to workouts, HD video instruction, and exclusive programs. Bonus: It’s all led by former football star Tony Gonzalez and syncs up to your FitBit, Jawbone UP, or MyFitnessPal. (Free to download, $7.99 per month or $39.99 per year to unlock premium content; iOS)
If you'd rather strike a Warrior III pose than bust out deadlift reps, this app is for you. FitStar Yoga makes stellar yoga classes accessible to anyone, regardless of experience. Just like FitStar Personal Trainer, the yoga version first assess your fitness level. Then, you follow full routines from superstar yogi Tara Stiles, including plenty of “freestyle” flows, like a “Happy Hips” routine—perfect for those of us chained to our desks all day. Plus, you can sync it to your FitBit, Jawbone UP, or MyFitnessPal accounts for an all-encompassing mind-body experience. (Free to download, $7.99 per month or $39.99 per year to unlock premium content; iOS)
When it comes to finding motivation, sometimes it’s the stranger things that really work. Case in point: Zombies, Run! 5K Training, which provides an eight-week plan packed with detailed workouts along with life-saving missions and stories about, yep, zombies, which make it actually fun to train for your upcoming 5K race. ($1.99; iOS and Android)
One app. Eight weeks. That’s all it takes to get you up off the couch and ready for a 5K. Perfect for running newbies, C25K hits you with three 30- to 40-minute workouts per week. Each of these will help you build strength and get moving. A personal running coach will offer audio tips and guidance along the way, letting you know exactly when you should start or stop running or walking. (Free; iOS and Android)
This app delivers an entire database of workouts, workout moves, and personal trainers right at your fingertips. You can build and track custom workouts, select from ready-made routines, or hire a certified trainer within the app. Each coach’s listing includes all the details you’ll need to make your decision, including cost, workouts per week, whether it involves a nutrition plan, and any bonus features that may come along with it. (Free to download, personalized coaching starting at $1 per day; iOS and Android)
Ten weeks to a six-pack? It may be hard, but it's possible (trust us, we've done it). Luckily, this app offers exactly what you need to get a rock-solid stomach including video tutorials, "avatar" trainers, and daily tips to keep you on track. Choose from three levels of difficulty to reach your goal of a defined, lean stomach—no equipment, gym, or real-life trainer required. (Free; iOS and Android)
This app provides personal training, minus the IRL face time. The app lets you pick your trainer, and he or she will then work with you to set up a training plan. You’ll then log your completed routine for the day, and you can connect wearable tech toys so that your trainer has additional info to work with. Also, expect your coach to keep in touch—he or she can check in on you either via message or video chat. Talk about accountability. (Starting at $40 per month; iOS)
Choose a part of the body you want to work, what type of workout (strength, cardio, yoga, or stretching), and exactly how much time you have to spare (from five to 60 minutes), and this app spits out a customized workout plan. Instead of counting reps, you'll simply push out as many as possible within a given timeframe. And with mini videos showing each and every movement, you’ll never have to wonder if you’re doing the exercise correctly. (Free to download, $2.99 for pro version; iOS and Android)
If there’s one piece of equipment that’s getting more and more attention, it’s the kettlebell. But that doesn’t mean that the average gym goer knows how to use it. That’s where Kettlebell F.I.T. comes in. With over 225 kettlebell exercises, this app guides you through a different set of moves every day. And since it’s designed by Matthew Mosebar, an NSCA-certified personal trainer and kettlebell expert, and led by Patrick Goudeau, a Nike Elite Fitness Athlete and NASM-certified personal trainer, rest assured that you’ll get just the right kind of direction. ($3.99; iOS)
Australia-based personal trainer (and Instagram sensation) Kayla Itsines, together with fellow personal trainer (and boyfriend) Tobi Pearce, designed two sets of 12-week training programs to help women sculpt the bikini bods that summer dreams are made of. The most basic package includes 12 weeks of her signature 28-minute circuit-style workouts, which require minimal equipment, like dumbbells and a bench. More complete (and pricier) packages also come with nutritionist-backed meal plans. Though this plan does take some cash, you also have the option to test it out: The site offers a seven-day preview plan for free. (Starting at $69.97, kaylaitsines.com)
If you’re looking for fun, free workouts with a side of #fitspiration, look no further. Once a week, super-fit trainers Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott post a workout schedule for the week ahead. They also offer longer plans, like the 8-week Bikini Series challenge. You’ll usually have the option to watch a video of each day's workout, print a PDF, and even download progress charts to keep yourself in check. We also love that the California-based trainers include reminders to make time for some R&R, hang out with loved ones, and set good intentions. (Free, with optional add-ons such as nutrition plans and DVDs; toneitup.com)
Founded by Greatist contributor Adam Griffin, BodeeFit serves up daily workouts, kind of like an at-home Crossfit WOD, consisting of high-intensity bodyweight circuits—no equipment required. Plus, the company offers seven- to 60-day workout plans, including ones that’ll build bulletproof abs as well as ones designed for busy workdays. Sign up, print out the PDFs, and get ready to get fit. ($4.99 to $14.99; bodeefit.com)
See ya never, fitness plateau. DailyBurn offers streaming workouts from elite trainers (including The Biggest Loser's own Bob Harper) to keep variety high, strength gains coming, and sweat pouring. The site will suggest a workout program based on your fitness level, goals, and personal info. Plus, with an accompanying blog full of fitness inspiration, healthy recipes, and helpful information, it'll be impossible (or at least very hard) to fall behind on your fitness journey. (Starting at $12.95 per month; dailyburn.com)
We’ve talked about why it’s awesome to hire a running coach, but that doesn’t necessarily mean having to shell our big bucks for one-on-one, in-person attention. Whether your goal is just to get moving or to power through a full marathon, this site offers six to 16-week training plans, complete with PDF training guides, access to their members-only forum, and Skype calls with the founders (including Julia Jones, who has 35 marathons under her belt), though the specifics vary by course. (Starting at $48; upandrunningonline.org)
Here at Greatist, we’re all about taking on new challenges. That’s why we love the "Challenges" section on CosmoBody.com, an online offshoot from the print publication. Depending on which option you choose, you’re setting yourself up for seven to 30 days of awesome workouts—all in easy-to-follow video format. The programs range from a six-day yoga challenge to a 28-day pre-wedding plan and are led by top personal trainers like Adam Rosante, Tara Stiles, and Astrid Swan. Plus, there's an accompanying iOS app to make streaming workouts on the go even easier. ($9.95 per month; cosmobody.com)
Don't have the time (or money) to get to barre class? Physique 57 has you covered. The studio's barre-to-beach challenge is an online four-week program that takes the barre class to your bedroom, living room—basically anywhere you’re able to move your body (no ballet barre needed!). It comes with a month's worth of online workouts from the studio's top trainers, a workout calendar, a four-week meal plan, instructor access, and more. ($57; physique57.com)
The go-to for weight-lifting warriors, BodyBuilding.com take fitness to a new level of awesome with its “Find a Plan” feature. After asking for your gender, main goal, and fitness level, it presents you with plenty of workout and nutrition plans that fit your criteria. Each is designed by certified fitness professionals and industry experts and includes video instruction, daily workouts, nutrition information, supplement guides, email inspiration, and more. You can print the plans or sync with your phone for on-the-go workouts. (Free; bodybuilding.com)
Considering it’s an awesome resource for all things fitness, it comes as no surprise that the American Council on Exercise (ACE) offers some killer workouts. While you can find individual workouts and detailed descriptions of moves, the site also offers a full 12-week total-body workout plan for free. You can also find programs tailored for specific events, like a 16-week half-marathon training plan, for a fee. (Free; acefitness.org)
Not only is this a perfect place to find videos and demos of various sweaty and effective workouts, but the trainers behind this fitness site also post daily workouts and workout series. Take on a beginner challenge, 30-day fat burn challenge, or BodyRock bootcamp challenge, all created and demonstrated by (super ripped) fitness pros. (Free; bodyrock.tv)
Each resource was chosen by Greatist contributors and editors for meeting certain criteria: The plans had to be created by a certified fitness professional, user-friendly, and affordable (as compared to hiring an actual personal trainer). We also looked for programs that appealed to a variety of fitness levels, from beginner to advanced. Tweet @Greatist to let us know if you think we missed any!