During the pandemic, I have probably tried free trials and paid for subscriptions of no less than 50 fitness apps. Yes, this was mostly research for the blog – mapped out in my Fitness app decision tree.
But it was well worth the investment, because after countless hours of planks, burpees, and squats, developing a decision tree, and slogging through unbearably annoying instructors and lots of freezing issues, I have done it. I have found the holy grail.
The Down Dog App – it’s NOT JUST YOGA
The holy grail, for me, is the Down Dog app, which has 3 main subapps for HIIT, Yoga, and Barre. On its face, it seems like just a yoga app. Even if that’s all it was, it’s a great app. But no….it has HIIT and Barre. And the HIIT workouts are more than enough to kick my butt until I am back in the gym full-time – and even after that.
Having it your way – exactly
This app is like being able to order a cheeseburger just the way I want it. And before you go saying I use unhealthy analogies on a fitness site, here is how I want my cheeseburgers: grass-fed, medium rare beef cooked on an open flame; smoked gouda cheese, wrapped in baby lettuce, with tomato, onion, jalepeno, and sriracha mayo. So basically how In-n-Out makes thir animal style, except until I can go out to La la land this is how I custom order my cheeseburger.
Now, back to working out. HIIT and Yoga are two of my favorite full body, bodyweight only workouts. More importantly, these are both my “roll out of bed workouts” – I literally rolll our of bed into my shorts and workout top, and then GO after a few sips of coffee and lemon water.
Reasons why Down Dog is Ideal for Busy People
So here’s why I love the app, both for what it has and doesn’t have. It’s about the customizations, especially the ones that save time and don’t cause unnecessary annoyances, especially at 430am when that’s sometimes the only time I have for my workout!
- Time customization – I can customize the time to my exact liking – 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes. It’s all doable
- Warmup and cooldown skip option- I can skip the warmup and go straight into sun salutations – If I already did cardio, I don’t need an additional warm up. You can skip the cooldown, too if you are short on time (but should stretch later!)
- Like TJ Maxx, it’s never the same place twice – The app remembers the workout I have previously done and generates a new sequence every time. This is especially important for HIIT as many of the workouts get repetitive with the same burpee-high knee combo
- Instructor custimization – I can customize the instructor and voice – I can choose a man or a woman, a deep baritone or a whispering melodious voice. I can get an English or an Aussie accent, too! And you can sample before you start the practice. You can also choose what level of instruction you want. You can have the instructor explain every inhale, exhale, direction and movement or only cue the pose and let you practice in silence.
- Music and background noise customization – I can practice in silence or pick between 6-7 types of music. For yoga, it’s between more ambient, more uplifting, or instrumental, including piano. For HIIT, it’s a variety of Beats, pop, and dance (and also ambient or spiritual., even nature sounds!)
- Difficulty level – I can customize the level of difficulty – and when they say advanced, they MEAN it. Even the intermediate verison of HIIT had me gasping with moves I hadn’t seen before. And I thought Ihad seen it all. And the app also gives you examples of what your choice of level means – like you can do push-ups on your toes, or you do yoga often but are not super advanced. For HIIT and barre, I can pick the interval length and for HIIT can pick the rest period.
- Body area focus – I can customize the workout to focus on upper body, lower body, core, lower body, legs, or glutes (this is mostly applicable to HIIT and barre). For yoga, I can pick the type of practice, between chiar yoga, Ashtanga, Sun Salutations, Hot 26 (the 26 basic poses in Hot yoga), Vinyasa, Restorative, or Full practice! Because I am trying to wake up in the morning, I usually go for Sun Salutations or Vinyasa. But 10 minutes of restorative or Ashtanga is really nice right before bedtime.
No frou frou instruction in this app
Here is the reason I really love the app: For what it DOESN’T have. There is no instructor personality lecturing or trying to motivate me before or as the workout is winding down. Listen – I’m here, I don’t need additional motivation! All that talk is contrary to the short attention spans we corporates have.
Down Dog does no opening act – they just go right into it. And that’s what I need when I am barely awake. I don’t need a cheerleader-y, overly peppy person or even worse a pair of people trying to force some kind of witty banter or thanking me for showing up. No, I don’t need to be congratulated or thanked. I paid money for this service and this is what I am getting for my value. I am well aware of how important gratitude is, but I don’t like it forced upon me in an artificial way of thinking of flowers.
The demo for the workout is really a non-descript male or female with a fit body, of course, but in plain non-distracting clothng, simple hair (and not miles of extensions), and they are JUST doing the moves and nothing more. It’s basically an avatar inside a circle, like this:
The other apps I use make me feel like it’s almost more about the person/personality at the center of the app. And that’s fine – sometimes we like to connect with personalities, follow them on Insta, feel like they are with us.
But lately, I have been looking for no B.S. No time wasted. I am BUSY, and I just want to WORK OUT. So I finally found an app for that. If that resonates with you at all, I encourage you to try it and tell me what you think!! Oh and one quick thing – though I don’t use it for these, it also has yoga and prenatal meditation!
Best yoga, barre and pilates apps