For the month of February, I decided to a break from my beloved MWH. Just for fun, test out what else is on the market. It was going to be four apps in four weeks. But because of an injury (not related to the apps), I had to cut things short and focus on recovery. But it fitted nicely into my “Three of a Kind”-series, I think.
The fitness app industry is a very saturated market which makes it easy to find something that suits your needs, fitness level, and lifestyle. What I’ve learned is that there’s not one way to do pilates. Simply saying “I like doing pilates or yoga” doesn’t actually say much. There are good and bad classes out there. But overall, it’s a matter of personal preference. Here is my take on three pilates/yoga apps, what I liked and what I disliked. If you found this useful, please let me know!
Week 1 – The Pilates Class by Jacqui Kingswell
|$29/month or $139/year||Pilates, HIIT, and Barre||No|
|Levels||Pre-/Post Natal Friendly||Meditations|
|Chill to Intense||Yes||Yes|
I saw Nina Dobrev promoting The Pilates Class and quickly jumped on the 7-day trial. The Pilates Class is led by Jacqui, but it seemed like the app is in the process of expanding and adding more trainers. Jacqui teaches classic pilates with a twist of HIIT and Barre. While there’s a second trainer, Jackie (or “JT”) that offers more pure HIIT-based workouts. The app also includes sound bath meditations with another, Zoe.
Classes offered: Beginner Essentials, Pre- and Post Natal, Pilates HIIT, Pilates Barre, Recovery, Pilates Stretch, Pilates Calm (Meditations), Pilates Techniques, Sound Meditation, and Pilates Reformer.
Class Duration: 5-50 minutes.
There’s a variety of classes, however, most standard flows are around 30-50 minutes long. Shorter workouts mainly focus on one body part. I found that there’s a lack of full-body flows between 15-25 minutes long. If you resonate with Jacqui and her teaching technique, be ready to carve out an hour of workout three days a week.
Equipment Used: Ankle weights and bands + Reformer (separate section)
You can follow along just fine without any equipment as most workouts don’t seem to use any. As the flows are between 30 and 50 minutes long, you’ll get a sweat up anyway and won’t need to intensify much with weights. At least not in the beginning.
There’s a special category for reformer workouts which is great for anyone who has access or is lucky to own one. It’s nothing that is required though.
|Android, Apple, Web||Yes|
|Workout videos, Meditations, Favorites, Programs, and Shop||Weekly Schedule in 2 levels, 4 Week Power Pilates Challenge, 4 Week Beginner Program, 12 Week Prenatal Program, 2 Week Postnatal Program|
The app looks very generic similar to what MWH had before. So I was familiar with how to navigate. The front page of the app has all the classes and different categories and gives you a quick look at what the workout is and how long. Once you press on a workout the class starts. There’s a small description of what the class is about, a section on what tools are used, and a Spotify playlist.
The only thing I saw it lacking was an app setting to control play functions. I found it annoying that every time a class ended the next class automatically started. There’s also no section in the app to see recent flows you did or didn’t finish. You’re supposed to be able to see the content by using the filter function, but nothing shows up. On the web app, you can filter your favorites which I found very helpful. However, I did not see this feature on the app where I do most of my workouts through. Other than that it’s easy to navigate and I didn’t have much of an issue playing workouts from my iPad or laptop.
At the top, you’ll see the latest workouts added and the weekly schedule that includes a “chill to satisfying”-level and a “satisfying to intense”-level to get started. There’s also a section for programs and challenges.
The Pilates Class doesn’t offer nutrition advice or recipes. However, in the shop section, Jacqui offers a 30-day nutritional ebook and one with smoothies & snacks to buy separately. A bundle costs $45.
Being used to 15-25 minute workouts, switching to longer felt like a big adjustment. I don’t really have a problem with a 40-minute class now and then. But doing one almost daily isn’t really my cup of tea. The classes felt too long, and with HIIT-inspired and repetitive exercises it was too much of a push-through for me to enjoy myself through the week.
The classes with Jacqui are instructed at a slow pace focusing on technique. There’s even a Pilates Essentials category, where Jacqui goes through basic techniques separately that I see could be helpful. Because of this, TPC feels like a good pilates app for beginners. But for me, personally, it just was too slow and I quickly felt bored. I’m starting to suspect I might have undiagnosed ADHD. I just didn’t feel like I had the patience to do the exercises or follow through with the whole 40 to 50-minute workout. But I did it. Just for you guys.
Because of the lengthy and somewhat sweaty flows, the weekly schedule only has 5-6 videos per week. Leaving a day or two for rest and/or walking. And you’ll definitely need it. After 4 days, I took a break on Sunday as I felt pretty sore and challenged. I personally prefer shorter workouts that I can incorporate daily. You’ll find shorter flows under the Pilates Goals-category. However, most of them are focused on only one body part. I would’ve wanted to see more short full-body workouts.
Also, many classes lack a mini-meditation that I’m used to with MWH. I love to move my body. But if the workouts become too long and intense without purpose, it’s not about moving your body with intention anymore. I found the classes to lack this key feeling that I so much appreciate with MWH workouts.
With all that said. I find the classes to be great for beginners as Jacquis offers videos on techniques/posture which can be great if you’re new to pilates. Just because I personally didn’t click with the classes doesn’t mean they’re bad. I’m just mentioning the few things I noted and comparing them to what I deem as better experiences.
Another thing worth mentioning is that under certain videos it says how much Jacqui burns during class. I found this a little outdated and triggering. The classes don’t burn much despite being over 40 minutes long. And it was just adding to the the lack of it being more about working out than moving your body.
Week 2 – FORM by Sami Clarke
|$22/month or $120/year||Pilates and HIIT||Yes|
|Levels||Pre-/Post Natal Friendly||Meditations|
|Beginner to Intense||No||Yes|
I don’t remember how I came across FORM, but must’ve been some influencer on IG that tagged them. FORM is led solely by Sami Clarke. And then there are a few meditation videos with someone called Jessica Stone. FORM also comes with a 14- and 7-day meal plan, as well as a holiday recipes pdf to download or print out. Recipes aren’t vegan, but can easily be made vegan-friendly. I didn’t try any of them but they looked tasty!
Classes offered: HIIT, Pilates, No Equipment, Injury-friendly, Standing classes, Warm-up, Cool down, and Meditations.
Class Duration: 5-45 minutes.
Sami’s got a signature 30-minute workout class that mixes pilates and HIIT usually with dumbbells. But the majority of classes are 20 minutes or under with a good mix of full body and isolated flows.
Equipment Used: Dumbbells, ankle weights, and bands.
A lot of the classes include the use of dumbbells. It’s not a necessity to get through the workout but is there to intensify.
|Android, Apple, Web||Yes|
|Workout videos, Meditations, Nutrition Plans, Favorites, Workout Programs||Weekly Schedule, Pilates Basics, Pilates Strengthening, Daily Check-In, Reset and Mindfulness|
The app looks similar to the last one, and seems to use the exact platform MWH used before. So I was very familiar with this one. This app had an app setting so you can turn off autoplay and other annoyances. It also has a section to resume a workout. The download button was a bit hard to find and the Weekly Schedule doesn’t have the same quick overlook like The Pilates Class had; you need to click on every day to see what type of workout it is and how long. But overall the app is pretty easy to navigate.
At the top, videos you didn’t finish will show up, and a 14-day strengthening program to get you quickly started. Then there’s the weekly schedule that includes workouts that are about 35 minutes long. Because thee workouts include dumbells and are pretty intense, the weekly schedule only offers 6 workouts to fit in a day of rest. The only downside is that there’s only one weekly schedule which includes more or less intermediate to challenging workouts. There is a category for “just getting started” for beginners. But would’ve been nice with a more chill option for weeks you don’t feel like pushing it.
Now, my experience with FORM was much more positive despite the obvious HIIT format with a countdown clock. It still wasn’t completely my jam, but felt like Sami Clarke was vibrating closer to the things I love about Melissa Wood. There was this aura of trying to make the workouts feel more mindful than a push-through. With weights, they were definitely challenging. However, I didn’t find myself too bored as the length of the classes was more reasonable. There’s even a “No Reapets”-category of classes! Which I found ironic considering what I said about the Pilates Class being too repetitive. lol. Also, after two years of just ankle weights as my main form of strength training, it was fun and refreshing to incorporate weights into my workouts again.
What’s less good about FORM, in my humble opinion, is the HIIT countdown clock and music in the background. The workouts feel very prepared and therefore not as intuitive as I’m used to. The app mainly focuses on short 30-minute HIIT as pilates classes weren’t added until the beginning of this year. But you can kind of feel the evolvement Sami is going for with her content, from high intensity to more slow and mindful movement. It feels kind of natural as Sami is moving away from her 20s into her 30s. I think there will be more low-impact flows in the future at FORM.
If you thrive on HIIT with music pumping in the background, as well as having more weights incorporated I think you’ll enjoy FORM! There are also many short workouts that you can do throughout the day or build your own routine. I also personally appreciate that there is a lot of short full-body flows between 10-20 minutes long.
Week 3 – Stråla by Tara Stiles
|$20/month or $200/year||Yoga, Thai Chi, Qigong and some Pilates||Yes|
|Levels||Pre-/Post Natal Friendly||Meditations|
|Beginner to Advanced||Yes||Yes|
I stumbled upon Tara Stiles in my early twenties 10 years ago. She pioneered and opened me up to a more intuitive yoga practice that felt more free and doable than the ashtanga yoga I was practicing at the time. I struggle with the type of limberness that yoga and dance require for it to feel fun. For example, it’s been 10 years and I still struggle to touch my toes. I need a lot of warm-up, I can’t miss a day or I’ll go back to square one.
What’s unique about Tara is that, despite being quite limber, her way of teaching isn’t based through her ability. She was the first yoga teacher I came across that allowed me to bend my knees to touch my toes and not make me feel like an incompetent sack of limbs. If it weren’t for her I’d give up on yoga determined that it’s “just not for me”. I still occasionally do her free classes on youtube and have both of her Deepak Chopra flows on my computer.
Classes offered: Yoga, Chair Yoga, Yoga with Kids, Tai Chi & Qigong, Meditiation, Health and Pain-relief, Prenatal yoga, Teacher Trainings, Dance class, and much more.
Class Duration: 10-50 minutes.
There’s a big variety of lengths of classes as the library contains about all the work of Tara the past 10 years or so. And the Tai Chi & Qigong classes rarely go past 30 minutes and are often around 20 or less.
Equipment Used: None.
From the 7-day trial, I never stumbled upon any extra equipment than your yoga mat. There might be videos with yoga blocks and the use of a yoga pillow. Tara often mentions during the flows about adding a block or a pillow to make things more comfortable. But overall, it’s more of a personal choice to incorporate supporting tools if you feel you need them.
|Android, Apple, Web||Yes|
|Videos and Community||Weekly Practice, Yoga series, Thai Chi & Qigong, Meditations, Teacher Trainings.|
The Strala app has many similarities to the other ones. At the top you’ll find workouts you haven’t finished and then there’s sort of a weekly schedule. The “Practice This Week” has about 16 videos where podcasts and live flows are included. The workouts are a mix of old and new yoga flows and Tai Chi that’s led by her husband, Mike Taylor.
The app has settings, you can build your own playlists and download videos to watch offline.
The video library is extensive which makes the app a bit hard to navigate through. While the categories help a bit, it was still a bit too much to be able to explore in only 7 days. There are not only yoga and tai chi flows but also teacher training workshops for both. Which makes the app stand out from the rest.
If you’ve ever done any of the free yoga flows on Youtube then the Strala app is just more of it in one place. But there’s more! You’ll strangely find three Jillian Michaels shred workouts in the mix! If you followed me for a long time, you know Jillian’s videos were my main fitness for a very long time. So that was a pleasant surprise!
When it came to the actual quality of the yoga workouts, I felt like I must’ve grown out of it a bit. Like, I personally can get quite annoyed with Tara when she says “and another one” implying it will be the last move before switching positions, but then continues with three more. I mostly stuck to flows that were 20 minutes or shorter, and many of them had very much of the same moves making it feel too repetitive for me. Or maybe I accidentally repeated a workout three times without realizing it. lol But no, Tara has her favorite moves she likes to do and it shows.
With that said… While I don’t vibe with Tara’s approach anymore the app gives you great value for anyone who’s into feel good-yoga. And when my injury at the end of my 7-day trial was like, nope you need to take a break, I tried some of the Tai Chi and Qigong flows. They felt silly doing but definitely sparked my interest to open up for more.
Overall, the app has lots to offer and is both beginner- and advanced-friendly. You’ll just have to download and explore it for yourself.