Unlocking yourself during the lockdown

I t is Week 2 of the lockdown, and we have started missing our morning jogs and mourning for our expensive gym memberships. Home workouts always sound like an unrealistic and ineffective solution, but with an informative and encouraging app by your side, trust me, they can actually work.

Believe it or not, working out at home without complex machines and weights can be just as challenging as a gym sesh with all sorts of equipment at hand. Here, the key to success is commitment. If you strictly follow a trusted app’s guided workouts and make absolutely no excuses to skip workout time (too bad ‘it’s raining’ is not a valid excuse to not travel from your bedroom to the living room floor), you can actually be that fit friend who shows off his/her abs on Instagram. So, are you ready to meet your new gym buddy in the form of an app? 3, 2, 1… here we go!

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If there was space for only one fitness app on my phone, I would pick this one. The Nike Training Club app was in development for over a year before being launched, and for good reason: the app scores high on all fronts – design, experience, features, and brand integration.

When the best in the sportswear biz gets into app building, it really does not cut corners. Nike loads the app with about 200 options, each with short videos of trainers demonstrating each move, position or exercise with deceptive ease and utter perfection. The best part is, the app is completely free, with no asterisks involved and no pop-ups nudging you towards a ‘premium’ (read: paid) version.

Short workouts ranging from 5-20 minutes motivate beginners to hop onto the fitness train. Meanwhile, workouts attached with the intimidating tag ‘Athlete’ are also offered, presumably for experienced fitness junkies who actively seek to challenge themselves.

You can identify your workout for the day using specific filters, such as: Muscle Group (eg - Abs & Core), Workout Type (Endurance/Mobility/Strength /Yoga), and Equipment (from no equipment to full equipment). If you are not sure and need some fitspiration, collections like ‘Workouts That Boost Your Mood’, ‘Best of Abs, Arms and Glutes’ or the quarantine favourite ‘Big Workouts for Small Spaces’ help get started without wasting any time.

From simple tactics for better runs (tip: pre-run stretching and a proper cool-down are recommended) to yoga-inspire d routines for individuals who enjoy more mindful movement, Nike seems to have thoughtfully built a one-stop fitness shop that caters to all kinds of people.

Ask any gym regular, and they will tell you – planning your workout is as important as the actual workout. If the idea of browsing and zeroing in on the right workout plan exhausts you, the Nike app also has the option of set plans for 4, 6 or 8 weeks for you to pick from … and diligently stick to, if you want to see pleasing results.

For Apple Watch users, this app connects seamlessly with the Watch, which helps you track your drills, heart rate, calories and stats, without having to pull out your phone.


The 30 Day Fitness Challenge is a home workout app ideal for those looking to fit into that skirt that no longer fits or a shirt that could look better without those love handles peeking through. Once you launch it, it asks you whether you want to lose weight, get toned or build muscle, and rearranges its content accordingly for you.

The app categorises its workouts based on areas of the body. You can choose to work on your abs, butt, arms, legs or do a full-body holistic workout, and they all come with multiple levels (Easy, Medium or Hard) based on your experience. The no-fuss style and easy language, as well as the friendly hand-holding through a month-long fitness journey, make this app the top choice for first-timers.

Recording your training progress, daily reminder notifications and social media shareability (how about sharing your workout results with your friends to motivate them?) are just some of the handy features. Entering your height, weight and Body Mass Index into the app will help you shape up and reach your #bodygoals.

Since all the content has been designed by a professional fitness coach, health and nutrition also make their way into the app. Quick results require daily dietary discipline, therefore a detailed 30-day meal plan and weekly shopping lists are built into the app. Workouts don’t work unless you are eating right. This is not just another gimmicky weight loss app, but an actual digital fitness coach that will push you to burn calories and keep fit.


Not everybody is built for jumping jacks and burpees, some of us need an exercise plan that is more relaxed and reflective, with focus on mental health and meditative breathing while also building body strength and flexibility. The answer is yoga. Yoga | Down Dog is an excellent go-to app for yoga practice.

Taking virtual guided workouts to the next level with soothing voices (take your pick from six) instructing you with ambient background music that rises and falls with your breathing, the app transports you to an imaginary yoga studio as soon as you close your eyes. To get away from the typical pre-recorded tutorials we expect, Down Dog has thousands of configurations that are determined to make every morning on your yoga mat feel different.

Some of the types of yoga you can learn and practice using this app are: ‘gentle’ yoga for beginner yogis, hatha yoga with beautiful standing poses, restorative yoga focused on stretching and relaxation without standing, chair yoga for when you are working from home and need a refreshing break without leaving the chair, and the celebrated surya namaskar, the ultimate asana that consists of a set of 12 poses repeated for good measure. Ending with a guided 10-minute ‘yoga nidra’ to top off your at-home yoga and tackle all the stress and anxiety you might be dealing with.

While the Yoga Down Dog app is not 100% free, the developers have made it free until 1 May 2020, because of the worldwide quarantine.

Until next week, stay home, and nama-stay.

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Home work during the lockdown, Saniaa Shah