Work(out) From Home is a weekly column where we review smart fitness machines and apps in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Thanks to technology, there are still plenty of ways to exercise if your gym is closed.
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Growing up, I was never into sports. After school, my friends would head off to soccer or lacrosse practice while I headed to my local dance studio for what would be four hours of back-to-back classes every single day.
While I never became a prima ballerina (I blame my boobs for that one), my extensive dance background still influences my current fitness routines even ten years later. Mostly in the sense that I tend to gravitate towards upbeat classes and workouts that are specifically centered around music.
So, in search of a dance cardio app, I stumbled upon On Beat Fitness.
If you couldn’t already tell by its name, the app’s workouts are literally centered around the beat of the music accompanying various routines. In addition to dance classes, you’ll also have the option to choose from yoga, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), cardio, stretching, and sculpting (for things like muscle-toning and core strength). It’s available for free on Android and iOS, and there’s even a seven-day trial offer. But, after that, it’ll cost you $19.99 per month or $119.99 for the year.
Since On Beat Fitness has only been around for about a half a year now, there are currently only around 25 full-length classes (about 20 to 35 minutes each) to choose from and more than 15 “Quickie” workouts (about 3 to 5 minutes each). But new classes are being added on a weekly basis.
The classes are also designed to match your mood. So whether you’re feeling happy, chill, blue, or even unmotivated, there’s a class for all of it. My moods have been all over the place during this quarantine, but On Beat’s diverse library of workouts has truly helped to get my endorphins flowing.
Pick your mood
The On Beat Fitness app is separated into four different categories: Explore, Search, Library, and Profile.
When you open the app, you’re greeted by the Explore tab. At the top, you can scroll through featured workouts and add them to your library. Below that are a variety of different categories, including “Continue Watching” (for workouts you started) as well as a “Free” section for workouts that don’t require a subscription. There’s also a “News” tab to let you know about any updates for the app and a “Recently Added” tab where you’ll find all the new workouts.
When you scroll down towards the bottom, you’ll find all the workouts separated by category. As I mentioned before, you can search these by mood: chill, bad bitch, feeling down, rage, throwbacks, and happy.
Of course, since the app is focused on music, there’s a genre section that includes pop, reggae, alternative/indie, rock, EDM, and hip-hop/rap.
If there’s a specific area of the body you want to target, you can always search by type of workout like sculpt, stretching, cardio, dance, HIIT, and yoga. There’s even a time category as well, so you can search for workouts that range between two minutes to 45 minutes.
Using the Search tab, you can look for videos or collections. But it’s not all that useful unless you’re looking for a specific video you know is available on the app. Rather than going through the “Type of Workouts Section,” I found it was quicker to type in a word like “abs” or “full body,” and then choose from the videos that it populated.
The library tab allows you to bookmark all of the videos to revisit for later or if there are ones you particularly enjoyed and want to have on hand to try again.
Meanwhile, the Profile tab is mainly where you’ll find all of your settings. like managing your subscription, changing the download or playback settings, and a few other options.
Overall, the app is really simple to use and intuitive. The classes are all neatly organized and easy to find based on your mood, workout interests, or taste in music.
I do have a few critiques, though.
For starters, some of the workouts do require equipment (mainly kettlebells, resistance bands, or balance balls). And while you can still do some of them without it, it’d be nice if there were a way to filter classes by equipment needs.
It’d also help if there were a description under each of the workouts as well, or even a preview. Sure, it’s fairly easy to figure out based solely on the title of the workout, but I’d like an in-depth breakdown of the different exercise moves to expect, especially since you can’t sort by skill level.
I also wish the Profile section tracked all of my past workouts. Being able to see a visual of how much I exercised that week or even my progress throughout the month would be a good motivational tool.
A very friendly workout environment
The only way to describe On Beat Fitness is that it’s just fun. And I think I can attribute that to two things: The production quality isn’t super high-end or overproduced. (The workouts are filmed in regular gym studios, which helps make it feel more relatable.) And all of the classes have this natural vibe to them that make me feel comfortable and welcomed.
For example, during a Latin Swing cardio class, the instructor’s mic pack accidentally fell off and, at one point, her dog wandered into the frame from the background. There was also a moment where the instructor realized the wrong version of the song she originally set the workout to was playing, but still continued on anyway with laughter.
Since the workout’s not live, I’d imagine other instructors would’ve immediately wanted to start over to get it right. But this “realness” was far more refreshing because these genuine, relatable moments are often missing in other workout apps.
Each of the On Beat Fitness classes make me feel like I’m working out with a group of friends. I may have never met these people in real life, but their energy radiates so much that I feel like I know them personally. After completing intense parts of each workout, you’ll sometimes also hear the camera crew start cheering. It’s a very nice touch, especially when you don’t have anyone to physically cheer you on in quarantine.
I also love the concept of focusing the workouts around mood rather than a targeted body area. I’m not a morning person, but for the purpose of testing this app, I pretended to be. And, let’s just say, I developed a major appreciation for the “chill” section of the app.
One morning, at around 9 AM, I found myself doing an ab and arm workout to a very soothing indie playlist that made me feel like I was in a yoga class. Normally, I’d go for a run or take a class on the Peloton Bike — two options that would’ve made me feel nauseous that morning. Instead, I was calmly lifting weights and doing crunches without feeling like I was going to throw up afterwards.
There’s also the fact that, while I need music to get me through workouts, it also functions as a really great aid to help me keep up or match the pace of the rest of the class.
During a 2000’s Rockin’ Emo Abs class (which was the first one I immediately gravitated towards), the instructor had us doing bicycle kicks to “Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. Building up to the song’s chorus, the kicks were slow. But as soon as that started up, kick speed increased for a few counts.
Meanwhile, during an electro dance cardio class, you’d apply the same methodology whenever the beat dropped, but with dance moves. Essentially, you had the option to increase your speed to match the music. But you also had the option to keep it slow if you felt like you needed it.
Which brings me to my next point.
Typically, not having the ability to choose between levels like beginner, intermediate, or advanced would alarm me. But the classes are designed to cater to all capabilities and the moves are easily modifiable. This doesn’t mean the workouts aren’t intense, though. Even the “chill” ones had my arms feeling sore a few hours after I completed the session.
So, you can rest assured these workouts are quite effective even in a quick five-minute session. But most importantly, they’re super fun.
For music lovers and beyond
Even though On Beat Fitness is centered around music, it’s great for anyone that just wants to have fun during their workouts. Of course, each session still leaves you feeling like you’ve truly exercised all those muscles.
Let’s face it, things can get a little dreary and dark in quarantine, and this app has really been able to lift my spirits — thanks to its relatively laid back vibe as compared to other fitness apps. Unfortunately, $19.99 per month is a little pricey given the limited amount of classes. On Beat Fitness is comparable to the costs of other apps, like Daily Burn or Peloton Digital, but those offer hundreds to thousands of class options.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the app has only been around for about five months and classes are still being added on a weekly basis. So, its library will fill up eventually. And if you’re the type that requires perfectly curated workout playlists like me, then it’s certainly worth the cost.