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I'm Mickie. I run One Strong Southern Girl from Small Town, TN. I love what I do. I want you to remember me because I helped changed your life.
Over the last 12 months the list of streaming on-demand workout options has grown exponentially–Beachbody on Demand, Daily Burn, Alo Moves, MOSSA on Demand, Obé, Body Groove, Body FX (and so many more)–how do you choose? After reviewing hundreds of home workout programs and on-demand libraries we’ve discovered the features that matter the most when you’re choosing a service.
And unlike most people who’ve written about this topic, we’ve actually signed up for and given almost all of these services a test drive ourselves so we’re sharing this data with you as an authentic customer and home exerciser.
Check out our brief explanation of what each feature is and why we think it’s important to consider each one when you’re picking a streaming workout option, and then use the table to find the on-demand library that’s best for you.
When you’re researching an on-demand library it’s important to look at the instructors that lead the classes. Here are some things to consider:
Our recommendation: Most of the time we recommend you choose a library that has workouts taught by a variety of different instructors so that you don’t set yourself up to get bored. The exception is when you’re signing up for an on-demand library because of the instructor (like with Cathe on Demand).
It’s usually easy to tell what workout style* the brand is using to draw you in to their library and membership. But often times, there are a lot more workout options inside the library than what’s obvious on the outside.
*Workout styles include yoga, barre, HiiT, dance, strength training, etc.
Alo Moves, for example, is an obvious choice for the yoga-enthusiast. But when we tested out their service we were actually very impressed with their strength and cardio workouts, as well.
A few other things to consider about workout styles:
Our recommendation: If you’re not laser-focused on one specific workout style then we recommend you choose an on-demand library with lots of different workout variety. As you get comfortable with using exercise on demand and realize you want more of one style then you’ll know it’s time to branch out to a company specializing in one kind of routine.
The exception to this recommendation is if you’re a beginner. If you’re just getting started, then it’s important to focus on a library with routines at your level that are in alignment with your workout personality. So, if you’re a beginner and you really want to do dance workouts then go ahead and sign up for an on-demand service with dance workouts you know you’ll show up for and add more variety to your workout program later.
Some on-demand libraries have workouts that span all exercise levels (beginner to the most advanced home exerciser) while others focus on having a library of routines just for the beginner or most advanced fitness enthusiast.
If you’re a beginner, it’s important to think about whether you want to modify all the workouts to your level or not.
Daily Burn, for example, has routines that fall into each category (beginner, intermediate and advanced), while other memberships (like Cathe on Demand) are almost exclusively designed for the advanced exerciser (although she always has people demonstrating modifications).
Most of the top companies have some no-equipment routines in their libraries but you’ll get the most use out of any of the memberships if you invest in just a few tools.
Our recommendation: You’ll be able to do almost any routine (in any of the on-demand services) if you have a range of dumbbells, an exercise loop and a full size aerobic step.
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Be cautious of workout libraries that specialize in very short routines (10-20 minutes).
Workouts that are 10-20 minutes tend to have a short (or non-existent) warm up or cool down. And because of the time constraint, are usually focused on one thing (training a specific body part or intense cardio sets).
Most of the services will have workout lengths ranging from around 20 minutes (or less) to over an hour.
Our recommendation: Choose a workout library that has routines and programs that are of different lengths. Your workout schedule will change periodically and it’s better to have more options.
This is a relatively new (and exciting) feature to think about in the world of on-demand exercise.
Some on-demand memberships will have this ‘Live’ workout feature that gives you the option of logging in and doing a routine as it’s being recorded!
The instructor can interact with you (and see you if your camera is on) which is a completely different experience (and more like exercising in a group class at a gym) than the traditional home workout experience.
Companies like Daily Burn and Obe Fitness do a great job with this feature and many other companies (like Beachbody with their new BODi option) will be adding it soon.
Our recommendation: Don’t necessarily choose an on-demand service just because of this feature. But if you sign up for a service that has live workouts, make sure you try it. (We love this feature far more than we expected to.)
With the exception of Tracy Anderson Studio (which is $99/month), your investment for an on-demand exercise membership will be somewhere around $9.99-$30/month.
Make sure you check for any special promotions or discount codes before you sign up.
Our recommendation: Don’t let the price of a service dictate your decision to sign up or not. The price is irrelevant if you’re not happy with the membership. Find the one that fits your fitness needs and it will be worth the investment.
Almost every on-demand service offers a free trial period to test out the features and workouts before your first payment but the length of the trials varies drastically (from 7 days to 30 days).
Set yourself a reminder a day before your trial is set to end so you can cancel if you didn’t like the service.
Our recommendation: Use your trial period wisely! Try out at least 3-5 workouts, different instructors, different workout styles and as many of the features as you can. Also, make sure you download the app (if there is one) AND login to your membership on desktop so you can really see how the dashboard is set up.
The download feature is something that you might overlook when you’re thinking about what’s important to you in a streaming workout service but it’s a detail we love to see.
If you can’t stream video reliably at home then you’ll want to use an on-demand service that has this feature. You can download the workout on to your device at any point during the day and then hit play without worrying about your internet connection.
We’ve also found it to be a really useful feature when traveling.
Believe it or not, not every on-demand service has an app.
This is something you can easily research before you sign up for the service.
While it’s not a deal-breaker to login to your membership from a web browser, it’s a nice convenience to have an app you can easily sign in to when you’re ready to exercise.
Our recommendation: During your trial period, make sure you download the app and compare the user experience of the app to what you have using a web browser. Often times they’re very different and it can be confusing.
Make sure you bookmark this article so you can come back to it when you’re ready to try a new on-demand library. In our program for home exercisers called The Vault, we recommend you change on-demand memberships every quarter to stay motivated and excited about hitting your fitness goals.
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