Nowadays, it's easy to get sucked into Instagram and believe that everyone around you is working out continuously and is the master of a strict, nil-pleasure diet. But if you have a busy career, have children to look after (and share your avocados with) or just simply can't afford a gym membership, staying in shape can be tough.
Excuses and obstacles are everywhere, but looking to simplify the eternal quest to stay healthy and in shape is Fiit. The London-based startup is bringing boutique fitness to your home ‚Äď along with a little help from wearable tech to keep you on track.
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The Fiit setup, which is currently only available in the UK and Ireland, works on a monthly subscription service. That subscription includes the ¬£65 chest strap and access to classes that range from yoga-centric workouts to HIIT.
Now there are plenty of apps and wearables that aim to bring workouts and fitness classes to you so you can go solo in the quest to get in shape. Can Fiit do a better job of keeping us motivated to burn those calories? I've been putting Fiit's classes to the test to find out.
Getting set up with Fiit
One of the real benefits about going to the gym is its simplicity. Whether you're signing up to a spinning class or you just want to bulk up in the weights section, you can be in and out with minimal fuss. So in order to replace that framework convincingly, Fiit's first test is being seamless in its setup. Thankfully that's something it has nailed.
In the box, you'll receive one cable ‚Äď which is a HDMI, USB and Lighting connector all in one ‚Äď plus a stand to place your phone on, the chest strap and, well, that's it. Google Chromecast support (coming in early May) brings the workouts to your TV while Apple TV is also compatible with Fiit. Right now, this is an iPhone-friendly setup only. Sorry Android crew.
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You'll also need to download the Fiit app and enter some pretty standard details to help the service get a better idea of which classes are suited to you, as well as your class aims and fitness goal. But this is all very straightforward stuff.
Once you're ready to go, all you need to do to cast a class from your phone onto your TV screen is to link the cables at both ends and then find a source to plug the USB end into. I was a little sceptical at first ‚Äď you never know the issues that might pop up when you're dealing with wires and connections ‚Äď but I had no issues in my time using Fiit. The only real thing to be aware of is the app sometimes mixing up horizontal and landscape views, but this isn't a massive hindrance and Fiit tells us it's in the process of being fixed.
Before you start jumping around your living room and annoying your flatmates, though, you'll have to connect the chest strap to your phone and make sure it's recognisable through the app. This is integral to the Fiit experience, since its able to show you your heart rate in real time and also count your reps for everything from jump squats to press-ups. And while you can still perform classes without the chest strap, it really adds to the motivational aspect to have your personal bests up on the screen ready to be taken down, as I'll explain in more detail below.
Although this is in the comfort of your own home, you'll want to make sure you have a solid amount of room to perform exercises ‚Äď there's nothing worse than being taken out of your home gym vibe by hitting your leg on the couch. And, on that note, your elbows and knees will also thank you for putting down an exercise mat for each class. Trust me.
It's time to get sweaty
It's a painless setup, but the proof here is within the classes themselves. And, thankfully, the Fiit app features a wide range for exercisers to choose from. You'll be able to pick from activities based on difficulty, target area, music type or simply the most popular available, though there are three core areas to focus on, too ‚Äď Strength, Rebalance and Cardio.
This isn't simply another cheap fitness app that's essentially built as a glorified timer for your HIIT workouts
In each of these realms, you'll be following the lead of one of Fiit's trainers, which includes some familiar names, especially if you're a lover of all things Instagram. Alex Crockford, Chessie King, Tyrone Brennand and Maeve Madden are among those on the Fiit roster. Having a good number of trainers to choose from is a positive thing and across the board they all do a really good job taking you through the classes.
It can sometimes be easy to get caught up matching the exact pace as the person leading your workout, though thankfully you're consistently given reminders that snap you back into your own level and continue pushing your body. You'll also receive the motivational chat you'll be used to if you have been in fitness classes before.
While you do miss out on that feeling of trying to keep up with the people in the room around you as you would in an actual gym, this is really where the chest strap and real-time rep counting come into their own. The feedback is seamless, crucially, and the way it's integrated into the workout screen (as shown below) definitely brings that sense of being in a live class that's dedicated to you. This isn't simply another cheap fitness app that's essentially built as a glorified timer for your HIIT workouts.
I'm a regular user of chest straps, so I wasn't too concerned about the accuracy there (especially as Fiit's chest strap is actually a rebranded Wahoo Tickr X), but the pinpoint nature of the rep counting has been a pleasant surprise. I've tried many rep counters through wrist-based wearables before, and, in truth, they generally lack in the accuracy department ‚Äď not just with strength exercises, but also simple bodyweight workouts.
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But by leveraging the accelerometer within the chest strap module, Fiit manages to pretty much always nail your rep number and know when you've completed a rep. It's a little uncanny, and even when I tried to fake it out on purpose ‚Äď say, with a half-completed sit-up or by simply enacting the same range of motion ‚Äď the Fiit was able to tell the difference. As you see this all happening in real-time on the screen, too, alongside your personal best, it actually manages to go somewhat beyond the motivational push you'd get from doing this in a gym.
As a comparison for the heart rate data, I decided to match the Fiit chest strap alongside a Fitbit Versa, shown above. You're not getting in-depth after-workout heart rate metrics from Fiit, but it did match up in the average heart rate column alongside the smartwatch. That doesn't tell the entire story, naturally. In truth, the chest strap always felt more consistently in line with our huffing and puffing, while sometimes the smartwatch would sit well below. That's not entirely a surprise, given that accuracy is generally stronger through chest straps, but it's something to be aware of if you're doubling up.
If you're not motivated to push yourself through the rep counting or seeing your heart rate fluctuate, you'll also get a score based upon your ability to stay within certain heart rate zones during workouts. Coming soon, too, are leaderboards and the ability to challenge your friends in live workouts.
Should you buy it?
Fiit isn't alone in its ambition to revolutionise how you work out ‚Äď we've tested plenty over the years that have aimed to do the same. And, spoiler alert, most fall way short of the mark. But Fiit isn't one of those.
Thanks mainly to the interactive nature of its classes, as well the professional feel provided by the studio and trainers, this is something that can genuinely be considered an alternative to the gym.
Since this is something you'll have to pay for, with monthly plans costing ¬£20, and quarterly (¬£45) and yearly subscriptions (¬£120) working out a bit cheaper, Fiit is likely best for those looking to forego the wasted gym membership or overpriced classes, and not just simply tack this onto their usual plan. The chest strap is included within the membership fee, and you can also trial things out for a month and receive your money back if you're not satisfied. If you want to cancel your subscription, you'll have to hand that heart rate monitor back too.
There's certainly room to grow as well. While the influence of the chest strap can't be understated here, the data could also be used more broadly than just keeping you in a zone to score points. Users could, for example, receive prompts within the workout (maybe a pop-up if your heart rate is down on your average for a certain exercise) and also be given a more detailed after-workout look. Potentially, integrations with smartwatches and fitness trackers could also help boost the experience.
Interestingly, Fiit told me that work is already in place to add more personalisation, live workouts and in-class gamification to the experience, so perhaps we won't have to wait long for the platform to flesh out even further.
And with Fiit already ticking the boxes of accuracy and ease of use, as well as offering a real depth in classes, this is one fitness platform I'll definitely be making use of.