A higher level of fitness is associated with a longer lifespan, a better quality of life, and decreased risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. There’s never a bad time to start a new exercise regimen, even if you’ve tried and failed in the past.
Whether you want to lose weight, increase your overall level of fitness, build strength, or tone what you’ve already got, there’s an app out there that can help you along the way. You don’t even need a heart rate monitoring device—your phone works just fine.
So here are the best fitness apps we’ve found (in no particular order) for getting in shape with help from your iPhone.
Running is one of the most commonly adopted activities by those wanting to get fit. RunKeeper, as the name suggests, provides a simple way to establish a routine and stick to it by tracking your progress. The app also works for tracking cycling and walking, as well as hiking, various forms of skiing, and even ice skating (among others).
With access to your location and motion data, RunKeeper can track and plot your progress on a map. You can opt to have frequent audio updates on your progress, and play music from Spotify (subscription required) or your phone’s internal memory.
Basic functionality is free, or you can upgrade to Runkeeper Go for $10 per month for detailed insights, advanced workouts, and live tracking.
Download: RunKeeper (Free, subscription available)
Strava is like RunKeeper, but with an emphasis on cycling. You can use the app to track runs too, but its primary audience prefers two wheels when breaking a sweat. Just like RunKeeper, Strava tracks and plots your workouts on a map, including important information like elevation, speed, and comparisons with others who have taken the same route.
Strava’s Segments are one of the best ways to see how you stack up against the local population. The app pairs with a vast number of GPS watches, cycle computers, and activity trackers for added accuracy.
Basic tracking features are free, or upgrade to premium for $8 a month to get customized training and workouts, live feedback on your current activity, and detailed analysis of your ride data.
Download: Strava (Free, subscription available)
Fitbod is an app for strength training, weight lifting, bodybuilding, and body sculpting. The focus here is on creating customized workouts that prioritize muscle groups, based on the information you supply. First choose your activity type, desired goals, and number of workouts per week, then receive a workout plan that adapts to your level of fitness.
There are descriptions and videos of the exercises included, as well as an option for bodyweight training only, and specifying the type of gym equipment you have available.
You can track three workouts for free; after that you’ll need to take on an $8/month subscription to get the most out of the app.
Download: Fitbod (Free, subscription available)
4. Fitness Point
Fitness Point is another app aimed at strength training. But unlike Fitbod, it serves more as a reference of exercises than an automated planner. While some of these exercises are available for free, you’ll need to upgrade to Pro to see them all. The free app should give you enough to see whether that’s worth it or not.
Each exercise has an animation, description, and information about which muscles it works. This isn’t quite as good as Fitbod’s videos, but there are still hundreds of exercises to choose from. You can create your own workout plans, log progress, and make use of the built-in rest timer while working out.
If you find getting fit to be a chore, Fitocracy might be the answer. It applies gamification to real-world exercise. As you log your activities, you’re rewarded with points, which in turn causes you to level up and earn more achievements as you ascend the ranks. While these rewards may be virtual, an overall improved level of fitness is quite real.
At it’s core Fitocracy, is a workout tracker rolled into a social network, and it works for just about any activity you can think of. This includes cardio to strength training and everything in between. The app also offers coaching from experts if you’re feeling low on inspiration.
You can sign up to the premium Hero subscription for $5 per month to get access to detailed insights, private messaging, virtual “duels” with other members, and other perks.
Download: Fitocracy (Free, subscription available)
You don’t need a Fitbit tracker to use Fitbit for iPhone, but it helps. The app functions as a basic activity and sleep tracker, with running, walking, and hiking monitoring included. You can record your workouts manually, log your meals, monitor hydration, and set your own goals to motivate yourself too.
If you do happen to own a Fitbit activity tracker, the app wirelessly syncs with your wearable and automatically logs metrics like sleep quality, daily steps, and heart rate (provided your tracker supports it). You can also link it with your Aria smart scale to log your weight automatically.
There are no in-app purchases, but the app is essentially one big ad for owning a Fitbit device. Make sure you consider carefully whether you need a Fitbit before buying one.
Download: Fitbit (Free)
7. C25K 5K Trainer
This is the official app of the Couch to 5K program, stylized as C25K. If you’ve been leading a sedentary lifestyle and want to get off the couch and start moving, this training app is for you. Using audio cues and activity monitoring, the app hopes to build your overall level of fitness to the point where you can run a 5K nonstop.
That’s really all there is to it. The realistic training schedule won’t push you too hard, and instead focuses on gradual improvement for those unfamiliar with an ideal exercise routine. It’s the perfect place to start, fusing walking with running to keep you moving and motivated.
You can upgrade for $2 to remove the ads, or pay $5 for the Zen Power Playlist music mix to spice up your workouts with new music.
Download: C25K 5K Trainer (Free, subscription available)
8. Nike Training Club
Nike Training Club is a completely free app from Nike. It includes over 180 workouts covering a range of workout types. From strength exercises, to cardio and endurance, to mobility and yoga, it’s all here. The app is especially ideal for those who don’t have much time to dedicate to their exercise routine, who lack specialist equipment, and don’t want to pay up for a pricey exercise program.
The app includes personalized workouts based on past routines, which means the more you use it the better it gets at predicting what you’ll want to do next. Included are tips from trainers, workouts from beginner to advanced, as well as some celebrity-inspired workouts from the likes of Serena Williams and Michael Jordan.
It’s all free, with the caveat that everyone’s dressed head to toe in Nike wares.
Download: Nike Training Club (Free)
9. Fitbit Coach
Previously known as Fitstar, Fitbit Coach is a personalized training app that lets you work out wherever you are, any time. Pick your desired workout, from short seven-minute bursts to hour-long slogs. The service tailors workouts to your activity level, which also integrates with Fitbit devices to suggest appropriate exercises based on the kind of day you’ve had.
The basic version is free with a limited number of workouts available, but you’ll want to upgrade to the full version to really unlock the app’s true potential. There’s a huge range of high-intensity activities included, with full instructions and video coaching for each.
At $13 per month, it’s considerably cheaper than a gym membership and requires little to no specialist equipment to boot.
Download: Fitbit Coach (Free, subscription available)
Diet is an important part of any exercise routine. Tracking macros like carbohydrates, protein, and fat can help you reach your goals. But counting calories doesn’t have to be a pen and paper exercise. MyFitnessPal makes it fairly easy to log your meals and snacks, with over six million foods already logged away and a handy barcode scanner to help recognize them.
You can import recipe information, log items from restaurants, and use your own home recipes to ensure you’re staying within the boundaries you set. The app also functions as an exercise monitor, connecting to more than 50 other apps and devices to help incorporate your activity and diet information in one place.
Upgrade to premium for $5 per month for an ad-free experience with better analysis tools, nutrition information, and much more.
Download: MyFitnessPal (Free, subscription available)
11. Fit Radio
Even if you subscribe to Apple Music or Spotify, it can be hard finding music you want to listen to every time you work out. That’s exactly where Fit Radio comes in, fusing fresh high-intensity music with workouts for a hands-free fitness experience. The app offers coaching for a variety or workouts, with more than 20 new workouts added every week, to motivate and tire you out at the same time.
You can also choose to listen to music and fit the music with the activity yourself. Sort by genre, BPM, activity, or DJ with over 150 mixes added each month. You can skip songs you don’t like, and even tweet the DJ responsible for the mix. Finally, there’s a Running tab that matches your pace to the music, either automatically or by manually setting a pace you want to follow and letting the app pick the tunes.
Upgrade to premium for $6 to enjoy more mixes, no ads, and better recommendations.
Download: Fit Radio (Free, subscription available)
12. Pokémon GO
Pokémon GO might not be a fitness app, but it can certainly help motivate you to get outside and move around. If your doctor has told you to get outside for a daily walk but you’re finding it difficult to get motivated, Pokémon GO might be the distraction you need. You can play virtually anywhere, and you don’t need to spend a penny (though there are some in-app microtransactions).
This game could be the carrot on the end of the string that gets you moving around outside, without even realizing you’re exercising. The developer, Niantic, adds more Pokémon as time goes on, as well as refinements like AR+ mode for vastly improved augmented reality. You don’t need to have played a Pokémon game before in your life to enjoy this one! Check our Pokémon GO starter tips to give you a leg up.
Download: Pokémon GO (Free, in-app purchases available)
Work Up a Sweat and Start Feeling Better
However you choose to get fit, these apps should help you achieve progress. Not only do they help improve physical health, but exercise has a positive secondary effect for mental health too.
If you’re looking for something a little more specific to that, check out our app recommendations to help track and improve your mental health or those that help you monitor the air quality of your environment.