The best on demand fitness classes | Peloton, FIIT and Zwift

We run through the top home fitness services to get you training hard
The best on demand fitness classes

Whether you're too busy to get to the gym, you live too far away or you just don't like training in a room with other sweaty people, on-demand fitness is becoming one of the most popular options out there.

The world of fitness has seen an enormous shift over the last few years with technology allowing for new innovative ways for people to train. One of the biggest of those areas, especially over the last twelve months, is the onslaught of home fitness products and services.

Where once you'd get a DVD for Christmas featuring a D-list celebrity doing lunges, now technology is effectively allowing the general public to turn their front rooms and garages into private boutique studios. And it's not just for those people that want to train in solitude. Connectivity means that people from all over the world can take on group training classes, competing with each other or interacting with strangers throughout the workouts.

Those services, like Netflix or Amazon Prime for entertainment, offer a range of options for those looking to get fit, from vast on-demand workout libraries to live sessions where people across the globe take part in the exact same workout.

Here we run through the big names in on-demand fitness, from treadmill training to group HIIT classes and yoga.

Peloton

The best on demand fitness | Peloton, FIIT and Zwift

The rise of Peloton as a fitness brand over the past year has been enormous, offering the home fitness fan a premium spin experience delivered via a 22-inch inbuilt touchscreen on the bike. Not only has Peloton succeeded in building a hugely successful business, but it's managing to turn a niche training method into a global norm.

What is it?

The core Peloton concept is focussed around the idea of taking a studio spin session and replicating every element of it into a user's home. To do that you'll need to purchase one of the state of the art Peloton static bikes and pay for a monthly subscription to the online video service.

That service uses Wi-Fi to allow access to thousands of on-demand spin sessions through the on-bike touch screen. Scroll through for a specific training format, or pick your favorite instructor, saddle up and away you go.

One of the nicest elements of Peloton is that those spin classes are real sessions taking place in a studio in New York. as the class goes on you can see everyone sweating away in the background as the instructor looks at you and explains the workout. You can even access those sessions as live workouts – something which adds a new dimension to the spin class.

Since the initial concept was born, the Peloton brand has grown significantly. As well as spin, there's treadmills (in the US), home workouts via your TV screen, a new studio opening in London and a range of Peloton merch and workout accessories to buy.

Who is it for?

Like most on-demand services, the fact that you train in the comfort of your own home makes it accessible to anyone hoping to get fit. The selection of classes available ranges across difficulty and time options, meaning you can try more challenging workouts as you improve. Like all spin classes, you're also in complete control of the resistance of the workout using the dial.

The ability to take on live sessions lends itself nicely to those serious cyclists who want a competitive edge to the workouts and the easy to use leaderboard means you can push yourself.

The main hurdle to Peloton, however, is the cost of the bike and the service...

How much does it cost?

The Peloton bike (or treadmill if you're in the US) will set you back $4295 for the basic package and the cost of accessing the online classes is $39 per month.

Access to the Peloton app, which gives you strength, running, yoga and meditation classes as well as guided outdoor running sessions, will cost you $12.99 a month.

What does a class look like?

When we first started using Peloton we were surprised at how impressive the class formats are. Each session is filmed, scripted and choreographed to such a high level that the experience, through the high-quality touchscreen, really does engage you within the workout.

You can choose workouts based on your favorite instructors, type of music or training format. The amount of options is enormous and perfectly designed to offer variety and longevity to the service.

Those differing classes offer an impressive range of workout styles and the addition of floor workouts and treadmills has meant that Peloton offers by far the most comprehensive at-home workout format out there.

Our verdict

If you're going to spend thousands on a home training system, you really need to know that you're going to use it and although Peloton is the most impressive option out there for general runners and cyclists, most people, especially those just looking to get active, are unlikely to see it as a cost-effective option.

That said, if you're really focussed on your fitness and happy to spend a lot of money investing in it, Peloton is a fantastic product that delivers on all fronts.

If you want to dabble in the service, then it's well worth testing out the app workout before thinking about investing in the bike or treadmill options.

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FIIT

The best on demand fitness | Peloton, FIIT and Zwift

FIIT is to group fitness class training what Peloton is to spinning – an on-demand selection of premium studio workouts delivered via your smartphone or TV. The service allows you to choose from hundreds of video tutorials with some of the UK's biggest fitness trainers.

What is it?

Like Peloton, FIIT aims to take a popular group workout format and provide a similar service whether you're in the front room or sat on a beach in Acapulco. The workouts are accessible through the FIIT app on your phone or tablet and can be be viewed on-screen via HDMI cable.

During the workouts you wear a FIIT heart rate monitor which tracks your level of exertion throughout a live session, using heart rate, calories burned or reps, and scores you against everyone else taking part in the workout (although you can opt out of that).

The range of workouts covers three core areas: cardio, strength and rebalance. That individual sessions range from resistance training with weights to yoga and breathing tutorials.

Personalized training is also available via the app and you can input your training goals to receive a tailored training plan to meet them, specifying the workouts that fit those goals.

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Who is it for?

One of the key aims of the FIIT system is to allow anyone to take on a workout and find it challenging. Many of the sessions will have scalable exercises included and often there are two trainers, each performing a different level of the same exercise (think squats and jumping squats).

The fact that you're at home means that you're completely in control of the level of exertion and FIIT makes a point of telling you to take a break if you need to. It's also a good way to dip your toe into fitness classes without the negative aspects of stepping into a busy studio.

That said, for more advanced users it offers some very demanding workouts and we've often found ourselves covered in sweat as we try to maintain a consistent heart rate or rep out goblet squats.

How much does it cost?

Use of the monthly service, which is only currently available in the UK and Ireland, will cost you £10 if paid annually (£120), or £20 if you pay for it on a monthly basis.

What does a class look like?

Unlike many workouts that you'll find on services like YouTube, each class is filmed and choreographed to an impressive level. Depending on which of the sessions you choose, you'll have either one or two trainers taking you through the range of exercises.

At the same time, prompts appear on the screen explaining the time and the exercise you're meant to be doing as well as your reps, calories, heart rate and leaderboard if you're doing a live session. In addition, FIIT has incorporated music and visual effects via the background screen that synchronize with the workout.

The best bit of FIIT is that the trainers really are doing the exact workout as you. Often you'll find them sweating and even struggling with some of the movements when a class hits a high level of effort. It's an authentic element of the workout that really helps you to feel engaged with the format.

The trainers are also handpicked by FIIT for their experience as well as their ability to deliver interesting sessions.

Our verdict

FIIT is an incredibly chiseled and enjoyable workout format that delivers a premium home training option for a relatively low cost. The trainers, class formats and production style offer an engaging and fun way to get fit at home and it's well worth trying out the trial service to see if it works for you.

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Zwift

The best on demand fitness | Peloton, FIIT and Zwift

Where Peloton and FIIT are focused on the more general fitness user, Zwift is largely designed for the more serious cyclists and runners out there. Like both FIIT and Peloton, it offers the ability to select on-demand workouts to train with at home, however, the delivery of that is different from the instructional format of trainers telling you what to do.

What is it?

Zwift is an online service that allows runners or cyclists to train at home using an immersive app experience. By connecting the app to your turbo trainer (compatible products can be found here) or, for treadmill users, via the Zwift RunPod or Runn treadmill attachment, users can take part in virtual reality training sessions, either individually or as part of an online group.

The sensors used to measure your workout deliver a high level of insight into your training information and Zwift will use that to deliver structured workouts. If you're a keen cyclist or runner that can help you work on a specific area of your training with clear on-screen guidance. It will also give you long-term training plans to help you work towards a specific goal or race.

The on-screen avatar workouts also add an immersive element to the sessions, instead of just plodding away on a treadmill or bike whilst watching Netflix. The format really comes into its own when you take on a session with other runners and can visually see yourself overtaking or losing to others as you run – even more enjoyable when you're competing against friends.

Who is it for?

Although Zwift is tailored towards the more serious cyclist or runners instead of the general fitness fan, the format is actually open to everyone, with training plans available from beginner to expert.

The immersive world format of the app offers a nice way to stave of the monotony of training on a static bike or treadmill at home, allowing you to choose from a wide range of 3D locations, like New York or even inside a volcano.

That said, the fact that you need to invest in a bike, a turbo trainer or a treadmill, does mean the target market is heavily on the athlete end of the spectrum. Although of course you can always take your phone/tablet to the gym and use the treadmills there, and the Zwift RunPod and Zwift RUNN attachments are significantly cheaper than a bike.

How much does it cost?

Monthly access to the Zwift platform for cycling costs $12.99. The running element of the app is currently free while it's still in its beta stage.

To use Zwift for cycling you will need to have a bike and a turbo trainer. For running, the Zwift RunPod costs $39.99 and the Zwift Runn treadmill attachment cost $99.99.

What does a session look like?

After you've chosen your location and the training format you're going to take on, you'll find yourself in a Grand Theft Auto style world. As you move along the road or path you make your way through the 3D locations, exploring them through the linear course laid out in front of you. In group sessions other runners/cyclists move around you as they speed up or slow down.

Depending on the session format, there will be varying levels of training guidance delivered from the screen, either to maintain a consistent speed/FTP or shorter sprint bursts as part of a larger training experience.

Our verdict

If you're already a keen cyclist, Zwift is a great option to incorporate additional training into your plan that has an impressive level of insight into your fitness level and performance data. You'll also have your own bike and, possibly, a turbo trainer anyway, so the cost isn't too hefty.

For those looking for general fitness, Zwift has less to offer, although if you're a runner that uses gym treadmills frequently the format does breathe new life into what can be a less interesting way to get fit.

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