“I tried an audio training app to see if it could help me mix up my workouts”

Tired of doing the same old stuff in the gym, Stylist’s Lauren Geall put an audio-based fitness app to the test. Here’s what happened.

As much as I love sticking to a workout routine, it’s nice to mix things up sometimes. Not only does it stop exercise from feeling like a chore, but it’s also a great way to push yourself in areas you tend to pay less attention to (for me, that’s my core).

So, when I was offered the chance to try out the audio fitness app WithU, I was intrigued. As part of my mission to mix up my routine, I’d tried countless times to introduce more mat work into my time at the gym, using pilates and stretching videos to get me started. But every time, I came across the same issue: I couldn’t see the moves on my tiny phone screen, and had to keep stopping and starting the workout while I watched.

I hoped working out with an audio-based app would change that – so a month ago, I downloaded With U and headed to the gym for my first session. Over the last 30 days I’ve played around with the app’s myriad features, from motivational guided runs to short (but challenging) beginner’s strength programmes.

The experience

Each workout has its own introduction page with an overview.

When I first downloaded the WithU app, I was surprised by just how many options there are available. There are workouts for every kind of activity imaginable, from boxing and rowing to barre and strength training, as well as specialised sessions for promoting sleep, positivity and focus. There’s even a section of workouts for both prenatal and postnatal movement.

You can either opt to follow a programme – a selection of workouts combined to help you achieve a specific goal – or you can select a workout on its own. To start with, I tried two workouts – one 15-minute pilates session, followed by a 14-minute mobility and stretching session. When you click into the workout you get a short description of the workout and an overview of the exercises involved, so you know exactly what to expect. Then, once you’re ready, you just have to click the ‘start workout’ button to get things moving.

While the app is obviously designed to be audio-based, there are visual representations of the moves on screen as the workout progresses – and I did find I had to glance over to my phone a few times throughout the workout to get a clearer sense of what I was being asked to do. Because of this, it felt a little difficult to get really into the app, because there were times when I felt lost or confused.

However, the guided coaching was detailed and helpful, especially when it came to the reminders to breathe deeply and push yourself towards the end of a specific move.  

The guided running workouts are where this app really comes into its own, however. The app’s partnership with Parkrun means there is a massive selection of guided running workouts to choose from, whether you’re looking to run 5k for the first time or push yourself to run faster. There’s also a range of extended distance and time workouts too, so you’ll find something to motivate you no matter your skill level.

While I haven’t been able to run one of the workouts yet due to an injury (bloody shin splints), I have listened in to one of the running workouts in its entirety, and I love how intentional it makes the running experience. There are reminders to check in on your form and how you’re feeling, and the app tracks your distance so it knows when to prompt you to move on to the next stage. You can even choose to listen to your own music as you go along or listen to the music supplied by WithU. Whatever floats your boat. 

The verdict

While I haven’t been able to try out every element of the WithU app yet, I’m impressed by how much this little app has to offer.

It’s a simple concept, but being able to listen into your workouts rather than watch them on a screen allows you to really focus on what you’re doing with your body, and I was definitely able to push myself harder as a result. 

To download the app for free, head to https://withutraining.com or download from your App store.

Images: Getty/WithU

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