Before I get to my Sweat app review, I have to take a moment to be a fangirl — I have been obsessed with Kayla Istines and her training plans since they launched in 2015. I was a BBG follower when you had to buy PDFs of the Adelaide-based fitness trainer’s plans, and borrowed my parent’s printer to print them off at home. I’ve been happiest with my body when following the BBG plans, and have recommended them to just about everyone who will listen.
Cost: $19.99/£14.99 per month or $119/£89 per year
Smartwatch compatible: Yes; Apple Watch Series 5 and newer
I’ve been using Kayla’s plans on and off for six years, but following the pandemic, using the gym-based training plans on the Sweat app has helped me get my confidence back in the weights room of the gym. To me, it’s one of the best workout apps on the market and has a number of brilliant plans for beginners and more experienced gym-goers alike. Read on to read my full Sweat app review.
Sweat review: Price
The Sweat app costs $19.99/£14.99 per month or $119/£89 per year (It's available on both Android (opens in new tab) and iOS (opens in new tab)). It’s not the cheapest workout app on the market, but the subscription gives you full access to all of the training plans on the app, as well as the on-demand sessions and the recipes. There is the option to pay for one month to see if the app is for you, plus new users can get a free trial.
Sweat review: Training plans
Like all good workout apps, the Sweat app is like having a personal trainer in your pocket. Yet unlike other apps on the market, there are multiple trainers and training plans to choose from. At the time of writing, there are 19 full training programs available on the app, including home-based workouts, zero-equipment workouts, gym training plans, and post-pregnancy plans for new moms taking their first steps back into fitness.
I’ve tried pretty much all of the training plans on this app (aside from the post-pregnancy ones) as well as some of the challenges, and I’ve found that it’s the variety that makes this app stand out from the crowd. During the Coronavirus lockdown, I mixed up my zero-equipment workouts with the odd barre class or Pilates session. The app also gives you suggestions based on where you are in your current plan; for example, at the moment I am at week 8 of the PWR with Kelsey Wells program, so my on-demand suggested workouts will match my fitness level.
For me, now that the gyms have re-opened, I wanted a plan that would help me regain my confidence. There are a number of different gym-based plans to choose from; High-Intensity Strength with Kayla Itsines, PWR with Kelsey Wells, FIERCE with Chontel Duncan, and BUILD with Stepanie Sanzo. As someone relatively new to lifting heavy weights (I’m more of a runner who prefers bodyweight exercises), I opted for the PWR with Kelsey Wells plan and spent four weeks going through the beginner plan, which re-introduced me to machines in the gym, while also mixing in some free weights exercises.
For women who don’t want to go back to the gym just yet, there’s plenty of other training plans to choose from. Some will require you to have some basic equipment, like a pair of hand weights (we’ve hand-picked the best adjustable dumbbells here) and a resistance band or two (we’ve found the best resistance bands for your home workouts here), but others are completely bodyweight based. Once you’ve found the workout plan for you, the app gives you the option to schedule your workouts into your planner, and even get reminders at certain times of the day to keep you accountable.
As well as training plans, there are also a number of recipes and healthy meal ideas which you can schedule into your planner. The age-old saying "abs are built in the kitchen" is true, and you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. The app gives you the option to filter recipes by your dietary requirements, with vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, and vegan options. As a celiac, I also like that you can substitute wheat-based options with gluten-free alternatives. Once you’ve scheduled your week’s recipes, the app gives you a shopping list of ingredients you’ll need to buy, taking the guesswork out of eating better.
Sweat review: Interface
Before you start each workout, the app gives you the chance to pick a playlist (to do this, you’ll need to connect the app to your Spotify account), and customize what equipment you have available. Based on the equipment you select, certain exercises will change. You can also substitute exercises during the workout itself, which is super handy if you get to a certain piece of equipment to find there is a queue of gym bros waiting, and you’d rather try something else than hang around. You can scroll through the entire workout, and watch videos of the exercises before you get going, and read a detailed description of the exercise to ensure you’re getting your form right.
When you’re actually doing the workout, the app shows you a video of the workout, and if needed, a countdown of how long you have left. Once you’ve completed the exercise, you do have to manually skip to the next one on the app, which is a little irritating if you’re on a machine, or holding a pair of dumbbells, but you get used to it.
The entire app takes the planning out of your workouts. You simply follow the instructions, exercise by exercise, and even have a countdown for the rest periods in between. It’s super simple to use, and you can add workouts you particularly like to your favorites so you can go back and try them again.
Sweat review: Smartwatch apps
The Sweat Apple Watch app is a super-handy training companion, as it lets you follow certain plans from your wrist (you can see a full list of the workouts available on the Apple Watch (opens in new tab) on the Sweat website). The app syncs to show you your weekly workouts, and lets you select different workouts on your plan from the watch. You can’t substitute exercises from the watch app, but you can see the name of the exercise, skip to the next one, and swipe left to see a video of the instructor performing the move. You can also pause, skip, or quit your workout from your watch, which is handy if you want to leave your phone in your pocket.
The Apple Watch app is available for the Apple Watch Series 5 and newer. During the exercise, the watch will record your active heart rate, average heartbeats per minute, active calories, total calories, steps, and distance.
Sweat review: Verdict
If you’re looking for an app to take your first steps back into fitness, get stronger, or learn how to use those scary-looking machines in the gym, you’ll find a training plan for you on the Sweat app. It’s not the cheapest workout app on the market, but it is, by far, one of the best I’ve ever used.
Like having a personal trainer in your pocket, Sweat takes the stress out of working out. I don’t have to plan a workout, I just have to get to the gym, or unroll my yoga mat in the living room, and go. New workouts, training plans, and instructors are added to the app all the time to keep things fresh, and I have, quite honestly, never gotten bored using Sweat.
The drawback here is that the app is definitely aimed at women. There’s no reason why guys couldn’t download it and have a go, but all of the trainers are women, and from what I’ve seen, most of the users are female too. But, there's more than enough workout apps and gym plans aimed at guys.