Getting in shape from home is easier than ever with subscription services that let you stream workouts from your TV, smartphone, or tablet—and five of these services are available as affordable add-ons to an Amazon Prime membership. (And you thought free two-day shipping and Transparent were the only reasons to subscribe to Prime!)
Each of the five channels has a unique mission, and targets different types of exercisers. You can try before you buy with a seven-day free trial—or you can read about my experience testing out one class from each channel.
The first add-on subscription I tried was AcaciaTV ($6.99 per month), which offers a massive number of videos broken down into a diverse set of categories: Interval Training, Pilates, Cardio, Core, and Dance, to name a few. The videos can also be broken down by ability level. Within each category there are a number of different classes that vary by instructor and type.
For my first class, I chose Body Weight Strength Training for Beginners. The class wasn’t nearly as easy as the “beginner” rating would lead you to believe— I was sweating in the first five minutes. But the trainer was precise, clear, and encouraging, making the experience feel as engaging as a fitness class you’d take in person at a studio or gym. But unlike a typical class, we didn’t use any weights or gym equipment. Instead, the instructor took advantage of things everyone has at home, like a chair, to assist with exercises. By the end of the half-hour session, I felt the burn in every part of my body, and realized it’s definitely possible to get an equally tough workout from a video as an in-person group class.
After a great experience with my first video workout class, I was pumped to try the next subscription option: BeFit TV, which costs $6.99 per month. I’ll be honest, though—I wasn’t so crazy about the one class I tried: Brazilian Booty Burn. It had a Zumba feel to it, with an extremely energetic instructor. The class got my blood flowing, sure, but when I take a dance cardio class, I want to feel like I’m getting a challenging cardio workout. This class mostly consisted of hip and butt movement (and, to be honest, I was nervous my roommate would walk in and wonder why I was swinging my hips around in front of the TV), and it never really got my heart pumping fast.
All that said, there are plenty of other exercise categories available on BeFit TV. In fact, it has a much more robust selection of categories than Acacia TV, including Cardio, Abs & Core, Dance Fitness, Body Sculpting & Strength, HIIT, Pilates & Barre, 10 Minutes or Less, and Beginner Workouts. Basically, there’s something for everyone—and there’s a good chance that I just hit a stroke of bad luck with the one class I tested.
The next subscription I downloaded, Gaia ($9.95 per month), was very different from the first two I tried. The only exercise videos offered are yoga and Pilates, but it also has guided meditations and documentaries. Categories include Inspirational Movies, Health & Longevity, seeking truth, 5-20 Minute Workouts, and 30-60 Minute Workouts.
I tried Gaia’s Yoga Everyday class, which placed more emphasis on spirituality than fitness. I finished my class feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
iIf you’re looking for a variety of fitness content and at-home workouts, I’d definitely skip Gaia. But if you want to participate in meditative practices and learn more about health and wellness, it’s the perfect program.
Grokker Yoga + Fitness
The following week I downloaded Grokker Yoga + Fitness ($6.99 per month), which focuses on both fitness and nutrition, with simple categories like Yoga, HIIT, and Healthy Eating. I loved that unlike the other subscriptions, Grokker offers more than just workouts—it also has healthy food and cooking videos.
I was immediately drawn to the food videos because of the many interesting recipes they featured, such as almond acai balls, Korean soft tacos, quinoa muffins, and gluten-free crepes. I decided to try out a recipe for zucchini pasta with basil sauce. After gathering all the ingredients, I flew through the video with ease, since the instructor was so clear with directions. I actually enjoyed the cooking process and the zoodles turned out delicious!
As a twenty-something trying to learn how to cook more nutritious and fun dinners, I was a big fan of this subscription. That said, I think Grokker is also a great option for people of any age looking to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. It’s not a personalized plan by any means, but the combo of healthy eats and consistent workouts is a recipe for success.
The last add-on subscription I tried was FitFusion TV ($4.99 per month), which offers hundreds of exercise videos from fitness superstars like Jillian Michaels. The videos are grouped by the celeb instructors, as well as categories like 10 Minutes or Less, 15-30 Minute Workouts, and 30-60 Minute Workouts.
Although this subscription doesn’t offer as much video variety as BeFit, Acacia TV, and Grokker, the fact that Michaels is featured makes up for it, in my opinion. I tried her “One Week Shred” class, which proved to be the classic high-intensity Michaels workout I was craving. It was only 20 minutes long, but the heart-pumping cardio and Michaels’ patented tough-but-encouraging demeanor left me sweating through my shirt and feeling the burn in all of my leg muscles (even ones I didn’t realize I had!).
The subscription also features a section of Tae Bo workouts—a unique combination of boxing and tae kwon do, created and taught by fitness guru Billy Blanks. Tae Bo was a huge fitness fad in the ’90s, but these workouts really do work up a sweat. So if you want to try a throwback workout, there are plenty of classes available, taught by Blanks himself.