We live in an age of excessive screen time, in which, increasingly, now even our workouts involve staring at a phone or screen.
Eyes need a break? An audio fitness app will deliver PT-worthy coaching direct to your earbuds, whether that’s guiding you on the perfect pace for a 10k or giving instructions for optimum form when doing squats.
There are added benefits to going audio-only, Janie van Hool, a voice and communications expert for fitness app WithU, points out. “Audio-based activity enables focus – a more mindful approach to taking direction and one in which we cannot skip ahead or switch our focus to a different sense,” she says.
“Listening to audio direction, focusing on breath and precision in movement, may help us find the flow state far more effectively than when our concentration is broken by distracting visuals and a focus on the output of an instructor or class leader and class participants”.
Here is our pick of the best audio fitness apps for some screen-free exercise.
WithU has an archive of over 1,000 audio-based workouts led by the likes of Omar Mansour, Faisal Abdalla and Danielle Wills, spanning everything from boxercise to barre, strength training, sprint work, yoga flows and short meditations that will set you up for the day ahead. There are bootcamp programmes and lifestyle reboot series that will get you back into a regular training routine in no time, and the app now integrates with Apple Watch so you can flick through workouts from your wrist.
Price: 80 per cent of workouts are free, while WithU Unlimited is available for £9.99/a month or £79.99/a year.
Nike Rub Club
Running arguably makes the strongest case for audio fitness — pick the right app and it’ll transform your miles. Completed Couch to k and now set your sights on a race IRL? The Nike Run Club app has a library of audio-guided runs for varying distances to match any mood, from “A Rainy Run” to “A Comeback Run” and “Don’t Wanna Run Run...” It logs your metrics and lets you join challenges, connect with friends and sync up your playlists from Spotify or Apple Music via the app.
Aaptiv offers access to thousands of workouts, including yoga, barre, strength training, walking, running, indoor cycling and cross training —with 30 new classes added each week. Personal trainers offer detailed audio instructions during each session — and members are encouraged to share their post-workout selfies to the social feed. Guided sleep meditations will help you decompress after a gruelling sesh.
Price: seven-day free trial, then £92.99/year
Apocalypse Survival Training
Surviving an apocalypse? How very 2020. For something a little different, this app fuses sci-fi and fitness to take you on an audio adventure, placing users in an alien invasion of London, with the lives of the city in your hands. Choose between three workouts: speed (running) strength (bodyweight circuits) and control (stretch and core), while an audio coach sets the scene and feeds you instructions telling you when to “lengthen your strides” and “sprint” to avoid capture by an avatar — the sound effects alone will make you feel like you’re on a blockbuster movie set. If you fancy something fun and immersive, if slightly bizarre, to mix up your workouts, give it a go.
Price: try one episode for free, then £6.99 for 10 or 99p/episode