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The Best Online Workout Classes, According to Strategist Writers and Editors

Photo: Sky Ting TV

Now that we’ve been home for weeks on end, we’re all slowly adjusting our lives to this new normal of spending our time mostly in the house. And though some things are harder to recreate at home — like enjoying a happy-hour drink with friends or going to the office to catch up with co-workers — if you’ve been missing your workout fix, there are lots of pretty great online classes you can do without leaving the house or entering a crowded, sweaty studio.

Over the last six weeks (and even before), our writers and editors have been testing all sorts of online workouts, from yoga to boxing, even dance cardio. We chose our favorites based on how the classes compare to being there in person (if we’ve tried it), the likability of instructors, accessibility for exercisers of all skill levels, price, and effectiveness of the workout. Below, 16 workouts we sweat through (and loved) for Pilates, barre, strength training, and more, without leaving the house, organized in alphabetical order.

Ballet Beautiful

Price: From $4 per video, or $40 per month after a $16 one-month trial period.

Type: Ballet-inspired barre.

Length: 4 to 20 minutes; on-demand.

Tester: Chloe Anello, who has been doing Ballet Beautiful three times a week for about two years and almost every day in quarantine.

Tl;dr: If you don’t have a lot of time (or the attention span), Ballet Beautiful breaks down targeted and effective ballet-like workouts into as little as four minutes.

What It’s Like: I don’t remember how I found Ballet Beautiful — probably Instagram — but I do remember thinking, “Six minute videos? I can do that.” And in the past two years of trying probably a dozen or so online workout subscriptions, it’s the one I’ve really stuck to. Because former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers, the founder and instructor, breaks the workouts into small, targeted videos that vary from a 4-minute ab workout to a 16-minute lunge routine, I can stay focused on the task at hand. I mostly enjoy her mat routines and think I’ve seen the most improvements in my strength from those, even though they’re at most eight minutes each. I improved my flexibility doing her daily dance stretch routine — which has elements of yoga in it as well as classic (I think) ballet stretches — and I seriously think it’s helped me sleep better since I started doing it every night to wind down.

I don’t pay for the monthly streaming membership; I actually buy the workout videos because I’m very loyal and stick with the same ones for a few months until I decide I need a new challenge. The monthly membership gives you access to all of her classes — I can only watch the ones I bought — so if you like variety, that route might be a good choice for you. The videos are clearly labeled for beginner, intermediate, or advanced students, so Ballet Beautiful works well for all levels, and I’ll probably continue doing it until I become a so-called advanced student.

be.come Project

Price: $35 per month with a ten-day free trial.

Type: Pilates.

Length: 25 minutes; on-demand.

Tester: Dominique Pariso, who picked this workout up about two weeks ago.

Tl;dr: The be.come Project focuses on one Pilates routine per week with demonstrations for how to modify each move based on your body type and accessibility.

I decided to try the be.come Project after reading this review on the Cut, and it’s quickly become my new favorite. Founded by SLT alum Bethany C. Meyers, the digital fitness platform posts only one new 25-minute workout every week that combines all the feel-good elements of Pilates, yoga, and dance. I think the most frustrating part of digital fitness is that trying to watch your screen as you move can become distracting. The one-routine-a-week method provides a clever antidote. As the week progresses, and my body learns the moves, the workouts become almost meditative. The platform is focused on accessibility. The other demos in each video are actual clients with a range of body types and Meyers really takes the time to explain modifications. They also post tutorials breaking down common mistakes for each sequence, which has been so helpful. My form has improved a lot, and I’m not waking up in the morning with any back pain. Another brilliant feature is the video player’s music mode: Turn it down to hear only instruction, up to hear only the playlist, or keep it in the middle to listen to both.

The Class by Taryn Toomey

Price: $40 per month with a 14-day free trial.

Type: Pilates-yoga-HIIT hybrid.

Length: 60 minutes; live and on-demand.

Tester: Dominique Pariso, who did the 14-day free trial during quarantine.

Tl;dr: For a full-body Pilates workout that’s beloved by celebrities, The Class offers live classes seven days a week with access to on-demand videos in their digital library.

I had always been intrigued by The Class — beloved by celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Naomi Watts — but never managed to make it to the studio for an in-person experience. Luckily, they launched a digital platform, which broadcasts classes live seven days a week, and I now have nothing but time on my hands. The Class is basically broken down into three elements: calisthenic heart-pumping moves like burpees, jumping jacks, and squats; mat Pilates–style moves on the floor; and then something I can only describe as a “jumping around” section where you, well, jump around. Periodically, you’re asked to pause and place your hands on your body. The intention here is to listen to your heartbeat and your breath while an instructor coos affirmations at you, but I always took it as an opportunity to guzzle water. Overall, I liked the Class, but I do think that figuring out which instructor’s style you like best matters. While some teachers like Jaycee and Karla keep me engaged the whole time, there were others I turned off halfway through. After a 14-day free trial, a subscription will cost you $40 a month, and The Class doesn’t require any equipment besides a yoga mat to get started. A membership gets you access to livestreamed classes, as well as an on-demand library of 10 to 35 minute Focus classes and 60 minute Collaboration classes led by founder Taryn.

Crunch Fitness

Price: $10 per month with a 90-day free trial, or free with a Crunch membership.

Type: Varied.

Length: Varied; on-demand.

Tester: Liza Corsillo, who joined Crunch fitness a year ago and started the online workouts once quarantine started.

Tl;dr: If you want a wide variety of classes and the opportunity to try something outside of your comfort zone, Crunch online has the most options in one spot.

My partner has been a member of Crunch for years and encouraged me to stop spending my money on individual yoga classes and start going to the same types of classes included in a membership. I pretty quickly realized what a good deal it was, and even though I have never excelled at self-guided workouts, I found that I really enjoyed watching TV while using an elliptical machine. One drawback was that the popular classes — things like Sunday morning Pilates and Caribbean dance — always filled up quickly, and even if I got a spot, I would end up either too close to the front — very embarrassing — or squeezed into a back corner without a good view of the instructor. With Crunch gyms closed, I have started using Crunch Live — an online library of fitness classes taught by Crunch instructors. Because I can do them on demand, I now have access to a much wider variety of classes from straightforward cardio workouts to targeted abs or butt toning, and even a few dance classes taught by the Brooklynettes where I can try my hand at choreography from actual center-court performances. Because I do them in my living room where no one but my partner can see me, I am much more likely to try classes outside of my comfort zone, and each one is like a private training session. I’m looking forward to going back in person one day (the sauna was amazing) but I’ll probably continue to do online classes as well.

E.F.F.E.C.T. Fitness

Price: Free on Instagram live or $25 per month.

Type: Boot camp.

Length: Varied; live or on-demand.

Tester: Tembe Denton-Hurst, who has tried a handful of classes on Instagram Live.

Tl;dr: If you want a high-intensity workout set to great music, E.F.F.E.C.T’s boot-camp-style workouts will have you sweating in minutes without requiring you to download another app.

When it comes to working out I need it to be upbeat and make me sweat. The music also needs to be good. E.F.F.E.C.T Fitness ticks all of those boxes, and best of all, their workouts are held via Instagram so I can get a sweat in without having to download yet another app. Known for their massive classes (think 100-plus people) and frenetic pace, their videos have gone viral on a few occasions, and after taking a few of their classes I see why. It really does get you sweating, and the pace ensures that you’re never bored. The class alternates between quick-paced banded workouts, bodyweight exercises, and cinder blocks for quick step-ups to the tune of mashed up early-aughts and trap music. It’s been something to look forward to during quarantine, and makes me want to book a flight once this is over to try the class IRL.

Housework by Sydney Miller

Price: $13 per class.

Type: Pilates and cardio.

Length: 45 minutes; live.

Tester: Hilary Reid, who does the classes two to three times a week.

Tl;dr: If you’re looking for a true sweat session, Housework requires little to no equipment (it’s soup-can-as-weight and paper-towel-as-slider friendly) and combines Pilates with strength training for a full-body workout.

If you told me three months ago that I would be doing burpees and mountain climbers on my bedroom floor to house music in a Zoom class led by a SoulCycle instructor, I would … not have believed you? But these are unusual times, and Housework, which is led by Sydney Miller, is truly a great workout. Her 45-minute classes combine cardio and Pilates, and are the only at-home workout I’ve found that leaves you drenched in sweat by the end. The class has four phases: first, a warm up with planking and ab exercises on the mat, then some cardio that usually involves hand weights, then a section with sliders, and then a final cardio push at the end. I heard about the classes through a friend who used to go to Sydney’s SoulCycle classes, and who sent me the link to her website, where you can see a calendar of Zoom classes for the week and reserve a spot by paying through PayPal (you can sign up up until half an hour before class starts). Classes cost $13 (part of the proceeds to go COVID-related charities) and are held every day. I’ve been doing two or three of her classes a week, and the sweatiness of it all makes it an ideal release for quarantine.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

Price: $20 per month or $45 for her e-book.

Type: HIIT.

Length: 28 minutes; on-demand.

Tester: Lauren Ro, who has been doing Kayla Itsines’s routines on and off for six years.

Tl;dr: If you’d prefer not to use a screen, Kayla Itsines offers her 28-minute-long HIIT workouts in her original book, or you can buy the app if you’d rather be guided.

I was an early adopter of Kayla Itsines’s 12-week Bikini Body Guide (BBG) workout. I found her on Instagram in 2014, when she had maybe around 2 million followers (now she has over 12 million) and was impressed with the before and after photos her followers had posted. Her program is based on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts that are 28 minutes long, broken up into four, seven-minute sections. You cycle through a set of exercises the entire seven minutes without taking a break. Then you move on to the next set of exercises for seven minutes. After a longer break, you repeat the first set of exercises, then the second. You do this three times a week, and you’re supposed to supplement those with walking and jogging on the off days. Even if you only do the three workouts per week (and don’t follow the meal plan, which I didn’t), you will see results. And it’s perfect to do at home, as you only need a set of weights and a bench (or a chair), if I’m remembering correctly.

The benefit of the app, which costs $20 per month, is that you can see exactly how to perform the moves. (She also has an e-book, but the photos could be hard to follow.) The timer is built into it, so you don’t have to fiddle with one yourself. Also, I love Kayla. She’s so positive and unpretentious and just seems like a genuinely lovely person! And even though she’s more popular than ever, and I think I’m a little too old for her program, I would definitely return to it.

LEKFIT

Price: $20 per month with a seven-day free trial.

Type: Pilates and strength training.

Length: 11 to 60 minutes; on-demand.

Tester: Dominique Pariso, who completed the free trial.

Tl;dr: Lekfit requires equipment, such as hand weights or ankle weights, but offers quick workouts that can be easily done on your lunch break.

I decided to tackle Busy Philipps–approved Lekfit, which is probably best known for their upbeat cardio rebounder classes, but actually offers three different types of classes, all of which require some equipment. The Boost class is perhaps what they are best known for and requires a mini rebounder, as well as ankle and hand weights. Hype has similar cardio and strength training moves to Boost (sans rebounder), while Define is basically Pilates. Since I only have hand weights, I stuck with Define and enjoyed its versatility: you can do it with or without weights depending on how intense you want it to be. Lekfit was also way easier on my joints than the Class, which I appreciated because I’m working with some old injuries. They post new classes each week in addition to their existing library of videos. I also highly recommend their Basics series, which are designed to teach you the fundamentals and serve as quick workouts that are perfect if you want to break a sweat during your lunch break.

Melissa Wood Health

Price: $10 per month with a seven-day free trial.

Type: Pilates and yoga.

Length: 18 to 45 minutes; on-demand

Tester: Hilary Reid, who does the videos most mornings in quarantine.

Tl;dr: Melissa Wood Health combines Pilates and yoga offered in different formats, like full-body flow or specific ab workouts, to be completed any time of day.

These videos combine Pilates and yoga and might seem deceptively short and simple, but after 10 minutes your muscles are definitely burning and within 20 you will be sweating. Melissa has a calming and just-upbeat-enough demeanor, and a philosophy which makes a lot of sense for these stationary times: moving for even 10 or 15 minutes is better than nothing. That translates to her offering flows in a variety of lengths: You can do a 45-minute full-body flow, or do 18 minutes of abs and 27 minutes of legs, or whatever else you’re in the mood for. She also has some 10- and 15-minute meditations, which I’ve been getting into and enjoying (I never meditated before quarantine, so I’d say they’re good for beginners.) I honestly look forward to doing her exercises in the morning, and think it’s something I’ll continue doing post-quar.

Nike Training Club App

Price: Free.

Type: Varied, but includes yoga and bodyweight exercises.

Length: Varied; on-demand.

Tester: Nikita Richardson, who has been using the app on and off for six years.

Tl;dr: If you’re looking for mat-based workouts with no equipment needed, NTC has options for small spaces, beginners, quick workouts, and more to cater the workout to your experience level and space.

I first got into NTC, Nike’s gorgeous workout app, as a poor graduate student with a massive apartment in Bushwick and a yoga mat. Many of the workouts don’t involve any equipment, you can integrate your own music into the routine, and in the six years since I first discovered the app, it’s only expanded and improved. You can choose the level of “athlete” you are — beginner, intermediate, and advanced — choose workouts based on muscle groups or mobility versus strength versus endurance. There’s even yoga! (I personally love the “Full Body Strength Yoga” and “Dynamic Restorative Yoga” routines.) And if you’re starting from absolute zero, there’s a “Start Up Benchmark” workout to test what you can and can’t do or the “Basic Burner” if you want to hit all your muscle groups in 15 minutes. Best of all, there are curated collections, like “Done in Under 20,” “For The Whole Family,” and “Big Workouts for Small Spaces,” which I really need now that I live alone in a tiny, 200-square-foot studio. Really, a New York City upgrade.

The Sculpt Society by Megan Roup

Price: $20 per month with a 14-day free trial.

Type: Dance cardio and strength training.

Length: ten-minute to hour-long classes; on-demand.

Tester: Chloe Anello, who has completed Megan’s four week program and does her workouts about three or four times a week.

Tl;dr: If you’re looking for a full-body workout with no equipment needed, The Sculpt Society breaks the workouts into small, digestible routines that can easily be modified for your strength level.

The Sculpt Society is my newest love. A friend of mine posted about her workouts on Instagram stories and raved about them. I DM’d her asking why she signed up, and she said, “Megan is just not like other instructors, I can’t explain it, you really have to just try it.” Curious to see what that meant, I signed up for the free trial (and have since upgraded to a full membership), and my friend is right. Megan feels like that very in-shape best friend who always gets you to workout with her. She’s not annoying or overly peppy like some dance cardio instructors (I mean, we’re doing squats, not celebrating a birthday), and when she tells me she’s proud of me for making it through her very tough routines, I actually think she means it, almost like I’m in person with her. It’s weird that I feel so connected to her — she’s a literal stranger — but I look forward to working out with her. I do her routines about three or four times a week in between my Ballet Beautiful workouts. She mixes up dance cardio with strength training, which mostly focuses on the glutes, legs, and abs, for a full-body workout, and they range in length from ten minutes to a full hour. Each mini-routine within the full workout is set to a pop song and timed to last the entire duration. She repeats a lot of the same moves throughout her videos, so the more you take her classes, the more familiar you get with each routine. But no matter if you pick her quick workouts or longer full-body classes, you definitely feel it the next day. If you’re struggling with a combination, she encourages her students to modify the move to be a bit easier or slow it down if you need to without making you feel like you’re a failure.

Physique 57

Price: $25 per month with a seven-day free trial.

Type: Barre.

Length: 30-minute or 57-minute sessions; on-demand.

Tester: Karen Iorio Adelson, who runs as her main form of exercise, supplements her running with these workouts to build up additional strength.

Tl;dr: Physique57 complements running with low-impact, barre-focused routines that strengthen your arms, abs, glutes, and legs.

In the time before COVID, I tried to make it to an in-person Physique57 class two or three times a week. Running is my main form of exercise and while I’ve always known I should balance that out with strength work, I hadn’t really found anything that clicked until I tried Physique. The low-impact (but very challenging) barre classes focus on strengthening the arms, abs, glutes, and legs and — I think — help keep me free from running injuries. The on-demand classes are a mix of full-length classes filmed during an in-person class, as well as shorter, more targeted workouts (like abs and glutes; or thighs and arms) designed for the online format. I like the former for replicating the feel of a live class, with the motivating instructors, music, and cues I’ve learned over time; and the latter for getting in a quick workout in the middle of the day. Most require no equipment, but if you do have weights, a Pilates ball, and/or a resistance band there are workouts that incorporate them. I’m itching to get back in the studio when things go back to normal, but these are definitely tiding me over for now.

Shadowbox

Price: $5 per class.

Type: Boxing.

Length: 30 and 45 minutes; live.

Tester: Jenna Milliner-Waddell, who took their classes in-person before quarantine.

Tl;dr: Because you can’t do bag work at home, Shadowbox, a full-body boxing class, makes up for that with intensive conditioning and shadowboxing that can be experienced live.

I first tried Shadowbox when I was unemployed, because they had free community classes, and now I’m tuning into their virtual classes during quarantine, so I guess you can say they’ve always been there for me during tough times. I like to think of it as the Y7 of boxing. In-person, the class is taught in the dark, only illuminated by blue lights with blaring music. It’s a 45-minute class consisting of rounds of shadowboxing, conditioning, and bag work. The only thing you don’t get at home is the bag work, but during their Instagram Live classes, the instructors more than put you to work with just conditioning and shadowboxing. (So. Many. Burpees.) At the start of quarantine, all of the Shadowbox offerings were free and on Instagram Live. They still have some free IG Live classes a few times a week, but they have a full schedule of virtual 30- and 45-minute classes that you can book through their website or through ClassPass. One class credit online is $5, and on ClassPass, they are three credits. Many studios who have pivoted online are still charging in-person rates, so I appreciate Shadowbox making their prices significantly discounted during these times. Considering how affordable the classes are and how intense the workout is, and the instructors, who I have to say are so very hot, this at-home workout can’t be beat.

Sky Ting

Price: $20 per month with a seven-day free trial.

Type: Yoga.

Length: 10 to 60 minutes; live and on-demand.

Tester: Lauren Ro, who tested it out for a month and is a relative beginner, and Hilary Reid, who took their classes in-person before quarantine and considers herself intermediate.

Tl;dr: Sky Ting offers relaxed classes great for yoga beginners that still provide an effective workout similar to their in-person experience.

I am not a yoga person, which is why I love Sky Ting so much. (I got a free month pass through an event, and now that the month is up, I would definitely consider paying for it. They also have free classes throughout the week.) The instructors are upbeat, the vibe is chill, and the workouts are varied. I also love that in addition to live classes, there’s also a pretty expansive library of on-demand flows, from 10-minute stretches to hour-long-plus sessions. I was never comfortable with the more spiritual aspects of the traditional yoga class, and I’m happy to report that while the instruction at Sky Ting is solid and professional, it’s also not self-serious, which I really appreciate. —Lauren

I took classes at Sky Ting before quarantine, and have been doing their live and virtual workouts at home when I’ve wanted something more relaxed (though they offer advanced classes online, too). I’ve been surprised at how weirdly comforting it is to take an online class with a teacher I’ve actually met in person. Sky Ting TV is pretty similar in structure and tone to what you’d get in person: a good warmup, straightforward directions, encouraging and slightly humorous vibe, and challenging flows, but not so challenging that you might hurt yourself without an instructor present to give corrections. There are also some body-part-specific classes that feel especially relevant for this moment, like a shoulder and hip opener class that’s extremely good after sitting at a desk all day. —Hilary

Y7

Price: $16 per month with a seven-day free trial.

Type: Vinyasa yoga.

Length: 15 to 60 minutes; on-demand.

Tester: Maxine Builder, who has been going to in-person Y7 classes for about two years, about three to four times a week.

Tl;dr:If you’re experienced with yoga, Y7 offers similar classes online as they do in person, minus the heat, but with some new additions, including mini-burns and focused classes that highlight a specific pose.

What It’s Like: In-studio, Y7 is high-energy Vinyasa yoga set to hip-hop in a dark, candlelit room with no mirrors. And though it sounds cheesy, it’s the most intense — and productive — yoga class I’ve ever taken. That’s because of the structure: You do three different flows, three times each. The first time is focused on alignment within the poses, the second is focused on connecting the moves, and the third is totally on your own, with no instructor guidance.

In that sense, the online WeFlowhard classes aren’t a huge departure from the in-class experience, because the structure is exactly the same. I don’t feel the flows or skills are dumbed down, and it’s still got a healthy, fast pace that helps me work up a sweat. However, the speed is also why this might not be the kindest pick for people just starting on their yoga journey (especially since there’s always at least one balancing pose, like a Warrior III, half-moon pose, or eagle wrap).

One advantage of the new online videos is that there are new class formats that they never offered in-studio, like a suite of 30-minute Focused Flows, which highlight a single skill, as well as 15-minute mini-burns, in case you just want to have a yoga-inspired, high-intensity workout. There are also live streamed classes — including a recent one with Diplo — in case you miss that experience.

The two biggest differences between doing Y7 online and in the studio are the heat and the music. I simply can’t get my apartment as hot as an infrared-heated studio (though that’ll likely change come July or August), so I don’t get nearly as sweaty, and as a result, I feel like I’m not being worked as hard — though I do usually feel a burn the next morning. And though each video comes with a link to a Spotify playlist that’s tailored to the class, and curated by the instructor, it’s not perfectly timed with the video, so I find myself playing DJ in between each of the flows.

305 Fitness

Price: Free.

Type: Dance cardio.

Length: 45 minutes; live and on-demand.

Tester: Jenna Milliner-Waddell, who attended their classes a few times in person before quarantine.

Tl;dr: For a fun workout that requires no equipment, 305 offers free workouts on YouTube that can be done alone or with the whole family.

305 Fitness is truly a special kind of workout. Pre-quar it wasn’t my everyday or even my every week workout, but it’s where I went when I needed to put a smile on my face. No matter how bad my mood was walking into a 305 class, walking out I’d be beaming, which is exactly why I turn to it in these times, too. It’s a dance-cardio workout that will leave you sweating, sore, and smiling. In-studio, the classes run for an hour and the music is provided by a live DJ, which is definitely a big part of the mood-boosting, and the instructors have done a wonderful job of translating at least some of that energy to their at-home offerings. Twice a day they go live on YouTube, offering free 45-minute classes. No, you don’t get the live DJ experience, but the 305 DJs still make the mixes for the instructors to play during the workout so the music is still on point.

Honestly, there seem to be even more offerings with the at-home workouts, including themed classes from single-genre classes to artist specific ones like Destiny’s Child and Britney Spears versus Justin Timberlake, kid-friendly sessions, and low-impact versions for those who need it. They recently switched their live times to 8 a.m. and noon from noon and 6 p.m., which isn’t exactly ideal for anyone who works during the day, but they save a lot of their videos to YouTube so you can dance on your own time too. Also, this is a no-equipment-required workout — you only need enough room to grapevine — so it really is free, barring WiFi and computer access, of course.

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The Best Online Workouts, According to Strategist Writers