The idea of doing a workout in the comfort of your front room is hardly a new concept. Almost 40 years ago we saw the birth of home exercises through the invention of the VHS player. Something that brought with it an onslaught of weird, wonderful and, in the case of Marky Mark's Form‚Ä¶ Focus‚Ä¶ Fitness, awkward and inappropriate videos.
Now there are hundreds of ways to get a workout at home, from celebrity-endorsed apps like Chris Hemsworth's Centr, to Instagram and YouTube workouts made by influencers on their mobile phones.
FIIT is an online service designed to guide home fitness fans through workouts, thanks to an iOS-only app. But how does it compete with the other options out there at the moment? And will it give you a good workout?
What is it?
FIIT launched in 2018 with the goal of bringing premium boutique-style workouts to people's homes. However, instead of just releasing a series of videos, the concept was to combine great instructors, data, smart technology and an online community.
The series of workouts are played through the FIIT app on your phone. If you have the right lead (one comes with the premium membership package) you can connect your phone to the TV and turn your front room into a boutique studio. Nothing particularly impressive so far, until you stick on the proprietary chest heart rate strap and take part in group workout sessions with people all over the UK.
How it works
FIIT is accessible to anyone that downloads the app and signs up to the service, although it's currently only available to those in the UK with an iOS device (there's an Android version coming, although no clarity on when that might be). You can view 75 of the on-demand classes for free straight away, with premium coming in at ¬£20 per month. Sadly, it's UK only.
As part of the premium service, you receive a heap of added functionality and workouts, which includes the heart rate tracking device and TV connector, progress tracking in the app, access to the live leaderboard classes, personalised training plans and over 350 more workouts.
A ¬£20 monthly fee might seem steep ‚Äď but if you're out of range of a budget gym like Puregym, it's a great way of getting access to structured HIIT. It will also appeal to those who feel self-conscious about going to the gym, or are just very time-poor.
We mentioned that the Fiit experience is meant to replicate the feel of a boutique studio in the front room. That becomes pretty clear as you download and start to use the app.
The roster of trainers that have videos available on the app in an impressive selection, with workouts from the likes of Alex Crockford, Chessie King, Lilly Sabri and Lawrence Price amongst those featured ‚Äď cumulatively you're looking at a pretty big percentage of UK's social fitness followers.
The app breaks workouts down into three options: cardio, strength and rebalance. Cardio covers sessions largely around quick bodyweight movements that increase heart rate and ultimately burn calories, strength tends to be slower movements or those using weighted equipment, and rebalance covers those training styles associated with mobility and flexibility ‚Äď that includes yoga, pilates and even breathwork.
When you look through the available videos (if you're signed up to the premium membership), there's a lot of variety there. You can choose your workout based on time to do it (between 25 and 45 minutes), exercise type, body part, type of music, difficulty or just do videos that feature the trainers that you like. You can even choose workouts that use specific equipment to optimise whatever bits of kit you have in the house.
Once you've chosen a workout, you attach the chest strap and wait for it to connect. The system to do this is relatively simple to set up in the app and we didn't experience any connectivity issues during our testing.
Once connected, your heartbeat is then displayed on the screen in front of you.
Each workout starts with a warm-up and ends with a cool-down section (as every good workout session should) and you'll work through the exercises in real-time with the trainer. Every time they do an exercise, you just try to do it as well. If you're wearing your chest monitor you'll see your heart rate and/or the number of reps shown on the screen, depending on whether the focus of the workout is strength or cardio.
We've tested the strap out in numerous sessions now and it's far more accurate than using a wrist-based tracker. Apparently it's a rebranded Wahoo Tickr, which means it's not only a nice bit of kit to get free with the premium package (Fiit say it's worth ¬£65), but you can use it for training outside of using the Fiit system. It'll also only pick up when you do full reps. So if you're throwing in any lazy half reps ‚Äď nul points.
If you're taking part in one of the live leaderboard classes you'll not only get your workout info, but you'll see your relative effort as a position against everyone else taking the class around the country. That score is known as 'Fiit Points' and is the currency used across the service.
The screen also shows you the name of the exercise that's coming up next, so you can pace yourself if something difficult is about to happen or to just get ready to swing your workout mat around in the changeover.
The main thing we liked about doing the workouts is that the trainers are doing it in real-time with you. That means that as you get tired, they get tired as well. You can see which exercises are the tough ones and which are the easy ones. If a top-level trainer is out of breath and sweating whilst doing one of the workouts (Exhibit: A), it makes you feel a lot better than that HIIT class you went to when the trainer was just walking around yelling at you to work harder.
There are also a number of workouts that include two trainers. The nice aspect of this is that, not only is there a nice camaraderie about the class, but one tends to do advanced movements while the other does an easier version. You can flick back and forth between these depending on how comfortable you are with the movements, or how wrecked you are from the previous exercises.
Other nice touches to the workout include a subtle yet clever syncing of the music and background light effects on the screen to mirror the workout.
If it speeds up or gets tougher, the music and lights will ramp up and drive you to pick up the pace. We had this explained to us by one of the team after a session and it's a feature we didn't notice ‚Äď but it definitely does the job.
After the workout you get a handy email that tells you how you did and you can check your previous stats within the app to see which you've done and how you're progressing.
As a premium member, you also have access to the training plans section of the app. By selecting your training focus from the options, the app will supply you with a two- to six-week plan based on your goal. From there it will suggest the most relevant workouts for you to do in order to hit it.
Those workouts will be organised on a week by week basis, so you won't be able to see what the Fiit team has in store for you after the first seven days of workouts. Why does it do this? Well, the plans are meant to be progressive, so if you're finding them easy, it should be modified to reflect that so you're getting the most out of your training. It also means that Fiit can update the plan with the newest workouts it has produced.
It's a nice system that's especially effective for those new to exercise and training plans.
Yes, it's a generalisation, and isn't technically personalised. But it does offer a significantly more focused workout than following random exercise sessions through YouTube or Instagram that probably aren't doing what you think they do.
The whole Fiit experience is a hugely polished take on home fitness. From the chiselled studio workout set-up to the impressively easy-to-use app interface, it's an enjoyable way to take your training indoors. Home workouts won't appeal to everyone, but if they work for you, this is a service that's well worth investing in thanks to the quality, variety, progressive levels and the biometric feedback.
The selection of workout options available offers something for everyone, from entry-level sessions to some that are, quite frankly, intense. Those workouts are updated all the time, so you won't be stuck doing the same old workout every other day ‚Äď unless you want to.
The main downside is the lack of Android support ‚Äď you can sign up for updates on when that part of the service will be live. The second is the fact that there are currently no actual 'Live' workouts where the trainers are doing it at exactly the same time as you as everything is pre-filmed. Fingers crossed that's something that will be added to the service in the future.
To find out more and to download the Fiit app head to the website here.