iFit App Review
If you’ve spent any time on Fitrated before, you’ve likely come across at least a mention or two of iFit—NordicTrack’s streaming and live coaching service that is offered via subscription, and is tailored to a large swath of the brand’s fitness equipment offering. Starting of as a “compatible with specific equipment” offering, iFit has evolved in recent years to also include a comprehensive standalone app that includes a reasonable array of workouts that can be done without your shiny new treadmill, exercise bike, rowing machine, or elliptical. In 2020 we built out a guide to the fundamentals of iFit with a focus on equipment-based training (which you can read at the link below), but given iFit’s extensive off-equipment catalog we’ve decided to take a second crack at hands-on review for those considering iFit as a standalone subscription.
It’s also worth noting that there’s a healthy catalog of running, cycling, elliptical, and rowing content that you can access without necessarily having an iFit compatible piece of equipment in the household. You won’t have the ability to compete on the leaderboard, and you’ll have to follow your own pacing and set your own resistance (unlike the automatic adjustment you’d get out of compatible equipment), but this makes for a reasonable “budget alternative” nonetheless.
Read Our Comprehensive Guide to Equipment-Based iFit Here
What You Need To Know
- Monthly subscription costs range from $15/month for individuals to $39/month for “Family Plan” (don’t bother with the latter).
- At present, the catalog of non-cardio workouts is somewhat limited (712 workouts across 8 workout types).
- Per a recent announcement, iFit will be acquiring the Sweat app, which should bolster this content offering substantially in the coming months/year.
- Classes are offered in both on-demand video formats, as well as audio-only coaching.
- Much of the current content is bundled into series workouts, and many of which are filmed in exotic international locations.
- Be warned, the app has some quirks.
Getting Started — What Equipment Do You Need?
Due to the nature of the workouts available through iFit’s standalone app, the gear/equipment requirement here is pretty minimal. A lot of workouts will rely on bodyweight, but there are some additional items that will come in handy if you’re going to make the most of iFit’s workout catalog. On the strength/yoga/recovery/stretching side of things, even if you were to grab everything on the optional list you’re still only looking at an expense of around a few hundred dollars. Above everything else, a decent workout/yoga mat is always a good starting point unless you’re very comfortable with the floors in your workout space. For some a carpeted floor is enough, but we will still suggest a mat, primarily because you can expect to be sweating pretty heavily by the time your workout is over. Even with a steam cleaner, you’re likely going to want to avoid sweating all over your carpet or rug.
For strength training workouts, there are a few items that will come in handy. A barbell (preferably adjustable), a set of dumbbells, a kettlebell, and also a set of resistance bands can be used on some of the available strength workouts in iFit. You won’t need all of them to complete every workout, but the more gear you have, the more diversity you can add to your workout strategy. The app also lists a medicine ball, however when you drill down there are only four video workouts that actually call for it. Aside from these items, the only other recommendation is a set of yoga blocks for some of the yoga classes.
You can find all of our recommendations for gear here.
On the cardio side of things you can get away with pretty much anything. Any good piece of exercise equipment will get the job done, so long as there’s somewhere safe for you to rest your iPad, tablet, or smartphone while working out. Because iFit is proprietary to equipment built by the parent company of Proform and NordicTrack, no other equipment will have the ability to pair up, so really the world is your oyster. If you’re in the market, you can pop back to our homepage to skim through the various options.
One real disappointment here is that iFit seems to be limiting their heart rate-focused training to equipment only. The Bluetooth pairing in the app seems to only be designed for pairing to your treadmill or other equipment (for older Bluetooth/iFit compatible equipment with smaller or no screens). Given how much the brand likes to spend on high-quality video workout recording in exotic locations, you would think they could spend some of that money on technology upgrades, but I digress.
What to Expect From an iFit App Workout?
After some time with the iFit standalone app, two things stood out the most. First, for beginner fitness enthusiasts, there’s a sea of options at your disposal. Clearly iFit is focused on making things as beginner-friendly as possible, which isn’t a bad thing. A lot of people coming to their key sister brands (NordicTrack and Proform) are going to on the more entry-level end of the spectrum, and this additional programming is a good match. For a little context, in the strength category there are over 450 workouts with an intensity rating of one to three, and only 160 with an intensity rating of four and above. You can also expect a good range of new content coming online daily, as new live classes are available daily. On average we’ve been seeing anywhere from three to eight new live classes scheduled per day.
The second standout is the significant amount of resource that’s gone into iFit’s “on location” workouts of all shapes and sizes. Want to work out with someone who’s on the top of a mountain in Utah, row along Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, or go hiking in Bolivia? This is easily the one area where iFit sets itself apart from the pack, as a healthy chunk of their workouts are filmed in visually stunning locations around the world. For some, this is fairly irrelevant, as the workout material is far more valuable than the background. For others, this bit of diversity and distraction is exactly what’s needed to help these workouts fly by. Having a trainer providing workout direction virtually is only part of the battle, especially for beginners. Keeping pace with trainers can be a challenge, and staying focused is at times easier said than done. Having that additional visual distraction of new surroundings has proven to be a hit with iFit’s equipment-based training, and it’s easy to see why they would carry this method over to other strength and recovery training sessions of all sorts.
iFit Workout Types
Remember how we mentioned to expect some quirks in the app? Here’s what we’re talking about. Once you’ve logged into the app and you’re staring at the “Home” section, take a look at the top right corner of the screen. There will be a little logo beside one of the following words: Treadmill, Bike, Rower, Elliptical, or Strength. This is where you need to start before going looking for workouts, because your browsing section will be filtered based on that selection. All kidding aside, we went a number of days thinking that the iFit app was only strength focused on account of not seeing this little filtering functionality. Step one, pick your category, then pop over to start looking at the associated classes, challenges, and live feeds.
If you go by what the iFit app tells you when filtering through the “Browse” section of the app, there are 8 different workout types to choose from in the strength bracket alone, but that’s actually not accurate at all. Within this breakdown, there are some overlapping categories including beginner workouts, as well as sections labeled mind, studio, and even active recovery. These all act as catch-all categories, and they aren’t nearly as extensive as they allude. Mind workouts are a mix of yoga, pilates, and core workouts, with a modest amount of meditation rolled in for good measure. There is also a search filter for dumbbells as well as for strength, though as far as we’re concerned that should be lumped into a singular category. Beyond that, the outdoor audio only section is a peculiar mix bag that makes far less sense than it should. You would think that this category would be primarily focused on outdoor running, but instead it includes more mindfulness, high intensity interval training, yoga, and even Kickboxing. Once you add in all of the workouts across all categories, again anticipating some overlap, especially between the elliptical and treadmill categories, there are still well above 5,000 workouts to choose from on any given day. If we ignored duplicate potential and just did a rough workout count based on iFit’s filtering, their number is north of 9,000.
Needless to say, navigating the various categories in the app is counterintuitive at best. That said, here’s a quick breakdown of what we view as the core workout categories of the iFit app.
The reason we are lumping these together is that the format of all of iFit’s treadmill, bike, rower, and elliptical workouts are effectively the same, alternating between studio and “real world” classes, with the only real exception being that the elliptical workouts are a mix of walking, hiking, running, and skiing. The real-world classes can be filtered by intensity, duration, trainer, and other regular parameters, but also by continent and by environment (beach, forest, mountain, etc). This is a really odd way of filtering things, but it allows the user to really tailor their workout to a particular mood. In essence, this is the brand’s alternative to offering playlist/music genre filtering, which is sadly lacking throughout the iFit app.
The first of a few “catch all” categories in the iFit app is what’s being dubbed as strength workouts, and technically they’re not wrong. You’ll find total body workouts here, as well as core work, upper body workouts, high intensity interval training (which is really more cardio than strength), and good old-fashioned “booty burn” workouts. On top of that, you’ll notice that some more intense yoga and pilates classes are lumped into this grouping for good measure. Roughly half of the classes are under 30 minutes in length, and the rest are between 30 and 50 minutes long. There’s a healthy dose of beginner classes in this section that focus on fundamentals of strength training, as well as more advanced classes. Some are recorded in iFit’s studios, and others are recorded in the great outdoors.
Yoga, Mind, and Active Recovery
Given how iFit likes to pepper these various yoga, stretching, mindfulness, and pilates classes throughout other categories in the app, it’s safe to say that these aren’t really the primary reason you should be getting on board with iFit. That’s not to say that the classes aren’t good, they are, but it’s clear that they were added to the offering to provide some diversity rather than being one of iFit’s category specialties. All of these workout types are great for assisting with the recovery process, whether after a run/bike ride, or on days where you aren’t really in the mood for a heavy workout. The pilates offering is primarily beginner-focused, whereas the yoga classes vary a fair bit in intensity, ranging from pose foundations classes, up to more intense Vinyasa flow and Hatha yoga classes. If you dig further into the catalog, not only will you find a broad range of meditation classes, but also a series of videos that revolve around diet and nutrition—primarily with the intent of breaking bad eating habits.
Our Experience With the iFit App
Well, where to start. It’s clear after our experience with the app, that iFit was built by a brand that is used to focusing on building fitness equipment rather than technology. ICON Fitness, iFit’s parent company that owns NordicTrack, Proform, and a plethora of other fitness equipment brands is a far cry from the tech startup world, and it shows. The interface isn’t bad, but it’s not intuitive. As noted above, searching through the app is a bit of a pain in the behind, which we can’t help but think was a bit of an attempt to make it seem like the workout catalog is broader than it actually is.
When it comes to the workouts themselves, it’s only fair to give credit where credit is due. By and large the instructors are the right balance of warm, welcoming, and motivating. Whether in the studio or out in the wild, you get crystal clear instruction that doesn’t compete with blaring music or obnoxious background noise of any sorts. The hero content here is definitely the workouts associated with various pieces of workout equipment. If you’re looking to spice up your at home running, cycling, or rowing routines, there’s a ton of material here, and at $15 per month for individuals it’s pretty hard to go wrong.
Lastly, the app has a couple of additional shortcomings worth noting. If you’re fond of specific music genres/playlists consider yourself out of luck. Not only does iFit not connect with other streaming services in order to listen to your favorite workout playlists, there’s also no ability to search or filter workouts based on the type of background music that plays along with it. Our suspicion is that this is in part a licensing issue, and also a matter of lacking content volume, but when basically all of your competitors are able to offer some sort of music/playlist control or filtering, you need to step up.
Bluetooth connectivity is the other surprise at hand here, which isn’t so much a deal breaker as it is something worth mentioning. A lot of these apps skip the smartwatch/fitness tracker connection, as they don’t use heart rate monitoring as part of the app’s metrics, and the same is the case with iFit. The reason this is noteworthy in this case is that the equipment-based version of iFit does have an option to pair to a wireless heart rate monitor.
Is The iFit App Worth It?
This is another one that’s a bit tough to score, but we have to look at it through a couple of different lenses. The quality of the training that is attached to fitness equipment is fantastic, to the point that it becomes relatively easy to overlook the app’s quirks and shortcomings. If you’re a cyclist, runner, or rower, there’s a lot to take in here, and you can do it without the premium sticker price that comes with buying a new piece of NordicTrack or Proform equipment if you already have something in your home. If you’re looking for those pieces of equipment and want to stay on a budget, be sure to pop over to the links below to get you pointed in the right direction. If you’re looking for something that has more to offer in terms of strength and other workouts, you’ll be better off looking at some of iFit’s competition—Freeletics in particular.