The 11 Best Workout Apps For Busy Parents

Can't find the time for a gym membership or the wherewithal to stick to a workout plan? Fortunately, there's an app for that.

by Alison Zeidman

We get it: Chasing the kids around the house really does feel like a workout. Not to mention your newborn kept you up until 3 AM, and the room formerly-know-as your basement — where the weights rack was once stood alone — is now housed is now cluttered with action figures and puzzle pieces.

And yet, optimist that you are, you are still searching for a way to fit a workout into your day without disturbing the family schedule or requiring much in the way of space (see: playpen, crib, and inflatable house). What you need is a little guidance — a readymade routine that gives you a good sweat in 20 minutes or less (sometimes, a lot less) — that you can easily follow while keeping one eye (or ear) on the kids in the next room.

These apps do all that, while also providing quality workouts that get your heart rate up and make your muscles burn. The other two help you maximize any time you do spend running or biking outdoors, so you can get the most out of every session.


Good for: Down and dirty cardio in a hurry

What it is: Choose between 12 virtual personal trainers and a customized exercise routine with this app that gets you through your workout in just 7 minutes. Each completed session leads to the “unlocking” of a new level in the app, helping you build fitness on top of fitness until you’re like Arnold. (There or thereabouts.) Need extra motivation? With Seven, you can compete against a friend to rack up workout points.

Free trial, $9.99 a month

5 Minute Yoga

Good for: Stressed-out dads and yoga beginners

What it is: You don’t have the time for yoga class and let’s face it, you’re a little wary of being the only one who has no clue what a downward dog is. This beginner app shows you all the moves you need to know in a tidy 5-minute package so you can get your asana on, and then get going with the rest of your day. Each pose features a clear photo, written description of how to do it, and a timer that gently tells you when it’s OK to move on to the next pose.


The Daily Burn

Good for: Guys who want a new workout every day to stay motivated

What it is: It ain’t cheap, but you get what you pay for—specifically, a different live workout every day, a fitness plan customized to your personal preferences, the ability to chat with others in the Daily Burn community. If you missed the Daily Live, don’t worry: You also have access to over 600 workouts in the fitness library.

Free trial, $19.95 a month


Good for: Guys who want a better weightlifting routine

How it works: If weightlifting is your thing, this is your app. Rather than having to write down your daily weight load and reps, you can log them here, automatically generating suggested lifting routines for your next session. You can also log body measurements, allowing you to see just how huge those biceps are getting.

Free for basic program, $6.99 a month for Elite level


Good for: Runner and cyclists, with a competitive personality

What it is: Still the gold standard for the outdoor community, Strava allows runners and cyclists to track the distance, pace, speed, elevation change, and calories burned for their workouts. But it’s best known for the friendly competition among users who post their data for friends to see (and try to beat). The app syncs with most GPS watches and can provide an interactive map of your running route.

$2-$6 per month


Good for: Guys who want to know what to eat as well as how to work out

What it is: Do you want to lose weight? Bulk up? Improve fitness? With this app, you choose your goal, then receive workouts and meal plans tailored to help you achieve it. The app gets about as specific as you can without a live trainer (do you want to drop body fat to 18 or 20%?) and lets you log your workouts and meals to keep track of how you’re doing with the program.

Free for the basics, $59.99 a year for Pro level.


Good for: Recreational runners and outdoor exercisers without the competitive Strava streak

What it is: How far do you want to go? Where do you want to head? Hills or flat terrain? Major streets are safer pre-dawn, but a nightmare during rush hour. All these considerations can be accommodated with MapMyFitness. Create your own route or follow one of the community favorites. It’s great for discovering new loops in your neighborhood or navigating the best options if you’re traveling.



Good for: Beginners looking to turn their living room into a gym

What It Is: Set the amount of time you have to workout (or that you have the stamina for right now), choose the type of workout or area of your body you want to exercise, and then just start. With SWORKIT you don’t need equipment, or even any actual knowledge of workout moves — the app has videos and audio cues to help you along your “Oh, so that’s what a burpee is” fitness journey.

Free (iOS) (Android)

Jawbone Up

Good for: Parents who need to keep tabs on their progress.

What It Is: This fitness app connects to the top-rated Jawbone fitness tracker, but it’s way more than just a lame step counter. You can log your meals and nutrition, compete against fitness frenemies, and opt for notifications from the digital Smart Coach about things like when you need to drink more water or get to bed early. If it starts to overstep its boundaries, back into the sock drawer.

Free (Jawbone Up4 retails for $199) (iOS) (Android)


Good For: The once-fit parent looking to start from the bottom.

What It Is: These ultra-short video workouts are perfect for the parent who’s been off the fitness wagon for a while. You can share results with a real personal trainer for feedback, and check your form against instructors with an in-video selfie function. Just focus on if you’re doing it right, not how goofy you look doing squat jumps across the living room.

Free (iOS)


Good For: The parent who has ditched more gyms than they can count.

What It Is: Each week, you make a digital pledge to hit a certain fitness or diet goal. The catch: If you don’t meet your goals, you lose cash to the other people on the app who do. It’s like gambling, but instead of using poker chips, you’re betting you can eat just one Lays.

Free (iOS) (Android)