If I'm being perfectly honest, I'm still not entirely sure why I, of all people, volunteered to try out a dozen at-home streaming fitness channels. My shaky-to-begin-with workout motivation is usually spurred most by a high-energy class environment; in most cases, I need an instructor and a room full of people to keep me on track and bring out my competitive nature. But any of this resolve swiftly disappears when I'm in the same vicinity as my bed.
And yet my curiosity about workout videos stems from a young age. I remember, at 4 years old, watching my mother in our living room as she worked her way through Cindy Crawford's aerobic routines. My dad used to pop a yoga tape in the VCR after a long run. I was in middle school when P90X infomercials began to dominate the late-night TV airwaves; I publicly rolled my eyes when a couple of my friends began to follow the program incessantly, though really I was just jealous of their drive.
So now that workout videos are enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the way of streaming channels—thanks to the age of Netflix—I thought it might be time to challenge this lack of motivation yet again. And given that these programs tend to cost far less than a monthly gym membership—and are way more convenient—I knew I had to give it my best shot.
And thus, a challenge was born: I'd test drive 12 of the most popular streaming fitness channels and decide which ones were keepers. See how they stacked up below.
The concept: Grokker offers a wide-reaching variety of yoga, fitness, and cooking videos, making it a one-stop shop for all things wellness. It's easy to narrow down the thousands of videos available according to your needs, thanks to easy search functions that sorts the options by category, level, and how much time you have on hand. You can also plan ahead by building a calendar of videos, which also monitors how many minutes and workouts you've logged that month.
My experience: I was immediately very impressed by Grokker's user-friendly format and customization options. Right off the bat, the site presents you with a few different videos for you to rate your interest in so that it can immediately build a custom workout schedule based on your preferences. On that note, I also loved the fact that I could build a workout calendar—actually having classes displayed on a calendar not only allowed me to plan ahead for a balanced regimen, but also kept me (gasp!) motivated.
Daily Burn, $20/month
The concept: Like Grokker, Daily Burn offers a variety of workouts to choose from—more than 150 videos of yoga, cardio, and toning routines. But its most unique aspect is that every morning at 9 a.m. Eastern, the channel streams a live 30-minute workout, so you can follow along with thousands of other Daily Burn users or rewatch later. One of the biggest selling points of Daily Burn is its large and devoted community of users, who converse and offer tips and solidarity via online forums. A 30-day free trial gives you access to those daily live workouts. After that (and to try any other videos), you'll pay $20 a month.
My experience: I didn’t do any of the live workouts because I’m not an early morning workout person, and I would have to rise before 6 a.m. in California to participate—something both I and my neighbors would surely not appreciate. Of course, I could go back and do the workout later, but by doing so, I missed out on some of that team spirit. For example, there's a live chat room that opens as soon as the workout starts but closes right when it ends.
That being said, I still enjoyed browsing the user-generated forums on the site, which offer personal insight into a ton of topics from motivation secrets to tips for beginners. There are also a lot of recipe ideas, and I really like the site's nutrition section, which offers a foolproof guide to macronutrients.
The concept: What if you could bring dozens of the world's best yoga teachers into your living room? It's possible with Glo, which offers tons of yoga, Pilates, and meditation classes to choose from based on your preferred practice style, time available, level, and body part to focus on. You might do a 45-minute vinyasa flow one day, a 10-minute meditation the next, and a mat Pilates class after that—it's completely up to you. They also offer a couple of livestream classes each day (included with your subscription) if that's more your speed. Plus, the instructors leading each class are some of the most renowned across the globe—giving you a rare (and exceedingly thrifty) opportunity to learn from the best. And it's all for $18 a month, which is basically the drop-in cost of one boutique yoga or Pilates class.
My experience: As with Grokker, I love that all the videos on Glo are organized by mood, body part, practice type, time—whatever you're feeling. It made it so easy to find what I was looking for, not to mention discover new-to-me routines and poses that could aid with whatever was going on in my life. (Yoga to wake up? Yoga for skiers? They have a practice for virtually anyone). The Ashtanga-Inspired Flow livestream class I took with the inspiring Koya Webb had me feeling grounded, stronger, and more balanced as I went about my day.
The concept: Aaptiv offers a range of audio and video fitness classes geared toward different fitness levels and goals. To set up a profile, you first opt to focus on losing weight, running further, or getting stronger, and then answer questions about your experience and current fitness levels, activity preferences, desired workout duration, and even favorite music to work out to. After the survey, you receive a curated list of the best classes for your goals and abilities. What’s also enticing is that Aaptiv is committed to adding at least 30 new classes each week, so subscribers never fall prey to boredom or reaching fitness plateaus. You can also join Team Challenges by completing workouts and earning points with healthy habits, and there's an Aaptiv Coach section where fitness and nutrition goals, healthy practices, and other workouts can be logged.
My experience: As an avid distance runner in my college days, I was particularly drawn to Aaptiv’s option to focus on increasing running endurance as a goal. There aren’t many streaming services that are specifically geared toward running. I really appreciated the audio options for guided outdoor running workouts. This is a rare find even among the plethora of steaming class platforms these days.
CorePower Yoga, $50/month
The concept: CorePower Yoga On Demand offers over 300 yoga classes modeled after their in-studio classes that subscribers can take from the comfort of their homes. The on-demand classes include both short and long versions of their signature C1, C2, C3, YS, YSB, and Hot Power Fusion classes, plus a library of instructions for poses, meditations, and informative mind-body talks to help subscribers cultivate mindfulness in their lives even once the session is over. Additionally, a live class is offered nearly every hour daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. MT. For $50 a month, members have access to unlimited live and on-demand classes.
My experience: I wasn’t familiar with CorePower prior to trying their on-demand classes. It’s a little bit intimidating and confusing for the uninitiated in terms of determining what the different numbered classes mean and how to select the best one for your level and goal. I did appreciate the meditations, such as Daily Gratitude and Be Here Now, and the pose breakdown videos helped me perfect the movements.
The concept: You don’t have to own a Peloton bike or treadmill to benefit from the Peloton Digital Membership. Subscribers can take thousands of at-home classes with their own equipment, or in some cases, without needing any equipment at all. Peloton’s extensive library offers classes in ten categories including strength, cardio, stretching, yoga, outdoor, boot camp, running, cycling, walking, and meditation. Classes can be sorted by difficulty level, length, and even instructor. Additionally, there are live streaming classes every day that subscribers can also join, so there is the benefit of a community feel right in your own home. They also offer active challenges, where subscribers can compete with themselves and other Peloton community members to work on healthy habits like exercising at least five days a week for the month. The app keeps track of achievements such as workout streaks, completing your first ride, or finishing 1000 running workouts.
My experience: The Peloton Digital Membership has been dubbed the “Netflix of Fitness Streaming Services” and after using it, I can support that distinction. In fact, there are so many options and appealing classes that it’s almost overwhelming. With that said, it’s a great platform for not just fitness enthusiasts who may worry they will exhaust the options available from competitors, but also those just getting their feet wet in the exercise world. I like how they do have quite a few really short classes, and there is a fun Dance Cardio series. I also appreciated the range of options of strength classes, such as Full-Body Strength, Bodyweight Strength, and Legs. Plus, I was able to see what, if any, equipment was needed before selecting the class, so I could decide if I had a workable setup before getting underway. Lastly, as someone who notoriously uses the excuse that I “don’t have time to stretch,” I found the stretching classes to be just the motivation and structure I needed to spend some much-needed time working on my flexibility.
obé fitness, $27/month
The concept: This online platform has both livestream and on-demand fitness classes taught by NYC trainers. Classes are filmed in obé’s pastel-colored studios and are free of some of the rip-roaring music and strobing lights notoriously characteristic of some other platforms. Their library of nearly 5500 on-demand classes can be filtered by type, fitness level, body focus (e.g., core, total body, or upper body) length, necessary equipment, impact level, and instructor so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. On-demand classes range from five to 60 minutes, and they have a filter for both prenatal and postnatal classes as well, which is a perk not yet offered by all services these days. They also offer specific programs that range in length from seven to 30 days and are geared towards various goals, levels, and activities. Examples include 7-Day Just Getting Started: Beginner, 28-Day Harder AF, and the 15-Day Yoga Deep Dive program. A live class is offered nearly every half hour from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST every weekday (22 classes per day) with reduced offerings on weekends. After a seven-day free trial, you can choose a monthly ($27), quarterly ($65), or annual plan ($199).
My experience: I think of all the streaming services I tried, obé fitness wins the superlative for most supportive for helping me stick to a fitness routine and actually exercise. This is because the classes are relatively short (the signature length is 28 minutes), and there are cool accountability features like a calendar where you can schedule in your classes. Plus, they have workout parties! The Dance HIIT classes were a lot of fun and flew by. The name alone drove me to try the Harder AF program, which is all about progressively increasing endurance, strength, and power over the 28 days. The workouts were challenging, but it felt rewarding to be able to actually chart my progress via the benchmark and check-in tests. I can’t say these were the most fun days, but seeing my fitness improve made me feel proud and confident that my sweat sessions were actually paying off.
The concept: While many people are just familiar with the in-person feature of ClassPass, which allows buyers to register for and take fitness classes offered at participating gyms and fitness centers in their community and nationwide, ClassPass also offers access to a digital library of both livestream and on-demand at-home workouts. With over 4000 included on-demand classes to choose from in categories such as HIIT and strength training, cardio, barre, and yoga, members can supplement their in-person or livestream at-home classes that they purchase with their allotted credits every month. With three membership levels, members can get 15 credits (three to four classes) for $29/month, 27 credits (five to eight classes) for $49/month, or 45 credits (nine to 14 classes) for $79/month. Any of these levels allows unlimited use of the free on-demand library.
My experience: I was pleasantly surprised and rather impressed by the vast library of available on-demand classes. I especially liked some of the cardio ones, such as Boxing Cardio and Dance Cardio. They also have plenty of options for workouts as short as ten minutes and lots of beginner options in every category. Since I prefer the at-home experience, the economics of this option weren’t ideal for me, but I could see it being a nice option for someone who does like taking a few classes at various studios in their area each month.
The concept: The barre3 subscription allows users to access over 300 on-demand classes with two new classes added per week. A few live steaming classes are now being offered each week as well. Classes can be filtered by factors such as the required props (equipment), length, instructor, and level, and there are themed collections of classes as well, such as Time Crunch workouts. In addition to barre classes, subscribes can stream HIIT, yoga, strength, and cardio. The barre3 subscription also allows users to join various challenges to help them set goals and stay motivated. You can slash the monthly fee of $29 in half by signing up for a $174 annual membership.
My experience: I’m relatively new to barre in general, so there was a lot for me to discover here. I liked the increased focus on the mind-body connection and counteracting muscle imbalances and detrimental postures and movements of everyday life. One unique feature I found really cool was the progress tracking feature. Not only can you see expected metrics like the number of workouts you’ve completed, but you can also track your relationship with fitness and working out by daily ratings of your mood and feelings before and after your workout. By drawing my attention to how the workout made me feel rather than how many calories I burned or how long I exercised, I found myself being less stressed about my workouts and looking forward to them by visually seeing the upward-trending graph generated by my own responses about feeling better post-sweat.
Pure Barre Go, $30/month
The concept: Traditionally designed for in-studio classes at facilities around the country, Pure Barre workouts incorporate low-impact, high-intensity movements that target the entire body to increase strength, flexibility and the mind-body connection. Pure Barre Go gives subscribers access a full range of Pure Barre studio workouts on-demand from their homes. Classes range from five to 60 minutes, and range from novice to advanced levels.
My experience: I found the Pure Barre instructors to be engaging, informative, and encouraging. It almost felt like they could actually see me self-consciously and awkwardly trying to suss out some of the new movements in my living room and were guiding me with kindness and support through the process. With that said, I think even veteran barre enthusiasts would find plenty of challenging classes. One thing to be aware of is that some workouts do require props and equipment you may not have at home.
Yoga for Everyone, $15/month
The concept: As the name implies, Yoga for Everyone is a yoga streaming channel where founder and instructor, Diane Bondy, has created a supportive, online community and on-demand video library of inclusive yoga classes. There are plenty of classes for both novices and advanced yogis, as well as whole sections in the library of classes for restorative and chair yoga (great for those with mobility issues!), a section specifically geared toward bigger and plus-sized bodies, and a collection that focuses on body positivity. There is also a forum where subscribers can connect with others and find support. After a 14-day free trial, membership is $15 per month or $147 per year.
My experience: I found everything about Yoga for Everyone and Diane beautifully refreshing. I struggle with my own body image issues, and the classes in the Body Positive series were particularly grounding and supportive for me. Don’t get caught thinking these are all easy, yoga-with-training-wheels classes, though! There are plenty of really challenging classes like Power Yoga and Yoga HIIT. I think it’s a great option for those of us seeking support and positivity in our yoga practice, and who might not feel we look like a sleek yoga model.
Ballet Beautiful, $40/month
The concept: Ballet Beautiful's extensive library of workouts is perfect for barre junkies—no matter how much time you have on hand or which body part you're interested in working, there's something here for you. All videos are easy-to-follow and led by Ballet Beautiful founder Mary Helen Bowers. For $40 a month, you'll get unlimited access to the videos on the channel, or you can purchase them individually; they usually start at $10 a video.
My experience: Bowers's sessions always made me sweat, even if I was just blitzing through a 10-minute leg-burner. Since barre is not my preferred workout these days, as with the other two barre-focused fitness streaming services I tried, I’ll probably skip signing up for a paid membership here, but it’s a good option for those of you who have the dance genes I lack.