Over the last year, you probably saw ads on your socials for a running app called Skyfit that touted itself as “SoulCycle for running.” Well, I tried it out for you and you’re welcome.
What is Aaptiv?
A crappy new name for Skyfit. It’s supposed to be a combination of the words app, adaptive, and active, which it is, but that doesn’t make it a good name. Maybe there was a trademark issue. Maybe they got bought and had to change it. I don’t know, but I mourn their loss. Anyway.
AAPTIV/ The App Formerly Known As Skyfit is an app that gives you a list of running (treadmill and outdoor), strength, eliptical, cycling, and yoga audio workouts. You can filter the workouts by difficulty (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) and duration, which is great.
They call(ed) themselves “SoulCycle for running” because the workouts are a music bed/ playlist and a trainer narrating the workout, guiding you throughout (form notes, motivation, form tips, etc.) and sometimes giving you extra motivation tidbits like cueing you to think about a word of the workout or a specific goal. I’m sure SoulCycle is more woo woo / intense than that, but whatever. Great elevator pitch. I bought it.
Is it just audio, then?
Yep. Just audio. No video of the moves or even photos. Which is fine if you know basic moves (Have you done a burpee? You’re good.) and also takes up less space on your phone and less data on your plan.
Does that work?
Yeah. For the most part. HOWEVER, in the strength training workouts, some of the trainers are not very good at describing moves, and some (the same ones) are not good at setting up the workout in a brief, clear way. At all. It gets really verbose, and then annoying, because this person is still talking and stumbling over her words and the warm up is over and you still don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. It might actually only be one trainer who’s not so great at the talky talk…I should pay attention to who she is so I stop doing her workouts…
The rest of the trainers are fine. Clear. Fairly motivating. Completely adequate.
One weird thing is once you do one of the workouts, you can’t access it again for a week. I guess that’s to make it feel like studio classes or something? Fleeting? In-the moment? Ever-changing? There are plenty of workouts, though, so it’s not a big deal. And they change them out and add new ones.
They also have monthly challenges and 10k, 1/2 marathon, etc. training programs. For example, in December they had a challenge that was a list of mini strength training workouts (about 13 minutes long) you could squeeze in say, in your in-law’s basement between coffee and the beginning of the day’s activities. Some days I did one. Some days I did three back to back. It was just nice to have something to follow so I felt like I got at least a little bit of a real workout in.
What’s good about it?
I like Aaaptiv because I want to run more often, and it makes going for runs easier and more enjoyable. I like that there’s someone telling me what to do, because usually a run (or any unguided workout) is just 20-40 minutes of me fighting the voice in my head that says “meh…I feel heavy…meh…I don’t wanna…meh…let’s go eat Quest Bars and stare at a wall instead.” With Aaptiv, there’s a trainer’s voice blocking out the bad voice-in-my-head-voice. And I mostly obey the trainer, because even though it’s a pretend recording, I’m a nice midwestern girl, and I don’t want to disappoint the nice lady or man who’s just trying to help me have a good run.
And am I going to maintain a faster-than-jog pace for three minutes (or ever) without a trainer telling me to do it? Hell no.
It also makes just the idea of going for a run less of a THING, because I just press a button and the decisions are made for me. And it makes me feel like I’m running with someone. It even feels a little bit like running with a group. It’s nice. It works. I like it.
Here are three sweaty, red-faced pics from right after Aaaptiv runs that show how I felt after doing them: Alive, sweaty, and somewhat accomplished.
Do the treadmill workouts suck?
Nope. I did one on a treadmill in a basement, with nothing to look at but a shelf full of books and knickknacks, and I felt plenty engaged. Probably because it was all Britney and Xtina songs on that workout, and I love terrible music, but still. Words and music fill your brain hole just as well as, if not better than TV while you’re running.
How are the other ones? The strength and yoga and whatnot?
AAPTIV’S STRENGTH TRAINING WORKOUTS are body weight workouts. So basically circuits of lunges, squats, planks, sit-ups, push-ups, burpees…stuff like that. They’re all simple. And some of them are SUPER simple. Like, so simple that I say out loud, repeatedly, “I fucking paid you to tell me to alternate squats and lunges for 20 minutes?” But, you know what? I’m not going to spend 20 minutes doing just squats and lunges WITHOUT someone telling me to do them, so yeah, I guess I do have to pay for exactly that.
AAPTIV’S YOGA WORKOUTS: I’ve only done one yoga workout, but it was fine. I think I might like audio only even better than yoga videos. Maybe.
ELIPTICAL and CYCLE: Can’t speak to those. I don’t have an eliptical machine, stationary bike, or a gym membership, and spin is not something I enjoy a ton. I may have said I like it in the past, but if I did, I was lying to myself and the world. It’s awkward and uncomfortable in most of the ways and people just need to admit that already.
Free 7 day trial, then $10 a month, $35 for 3 months, or $50 for a year. When I signed up a few months back, I got a year for $40. Current plans are here: https://www.aaptiv.com/signup
So, yes or no?
Yes. It’s a step above “just going out for a run” or “just doing some planks and push ups for a minute.” You’ll get a better workout in, even if it’s a 15 minute one. And having someone with you, even if it’s a recording of a trainer with one of those annoying sexy baby raspy voices, gives you a little bit of the peer pressure/ class effect: you’ll push yourself a little bit harder than if you were completely on your own.