A Review of 3 FREE Apps: Couch to 5K / Jillian Michaels / Nike Training Club

There are thousands of fitness apps out there! Which one do you use? We decided to pick three of the top apps that are out there and use them ourselves. We specifically looked at free apps because let’s face it, free is always good! If you can work out for free and when it is convenient for you; you are more likely to be motivated! There are no membership fees and you can bring as many friends along as you would like. Our phones usually go where we go. These apps allow you to work out whenever and wherever. If you are stuck at the office, or even in the front room while kids are napping.

We did the work outs, we tracked our exercises, and we personally analyzed what these apps were all about. Look and see what we thought of these apps and decide if any of these are right for you!

Couch to 5K (C25K)

Couch to 5k is every beginner’s best friend and it is a free app on all smart devices! This app is very popular with individuals who are just getting started in the running world and preparing to run their first race. This app has many options such as giving individuals other apps to look at while training, lists of different 5ks going on, and even articles that individuals can read about different aspects of running. The app is set up so that the individuals are given twenty-seven workouts, three days a week for nine weeks, as well as unlimited time for runs that can be tracked by GPS. Each of these workouts has an option for a trainer that can speak to you throughout your workout, but your notifications must be on to hear these coaching cues.

This app is laid out so that there is a five-minute warm up and a five-minute cool down for every run and the remaining time is a combination of walking and running. The app strategically coordinates run and walk time each session so that you can increase your overall run time. This way by race day, you are prepared to run the entire 5K! So, whether or not you are just wanting help with your training or just in need of motivation to get going this app can help you start running as soon as you download it.

Jillian Michaels

This app has a free option and a paid option. This app is ideal for getting started on a fitness regimen or if you need a quick and heavy workout. When getting started, you create profile with your gender, age, weight, and height. You choose your current fitness level and your available equipment. The app will offer longer training plans and meal plans that cost. To stay on the free track, pick random training/food plans and exit out of the screen that pops up with prices. With the free edition, you can track your weight. The weight tracker records your beginning weight, your current weight, and your goal weight. There are five categories of workouts available. They include abs, upper body, lower body, legs, cardio and full body. Each workout adapts to your fitness level and equipment availability. For instance, if you only have dumbbells available, you may perform ab exercises on the floor with a dumbbell. If you have a stability ball and dumbbells available, the ab workout will modify to exercises with those pieces of equipment. If you are a beginner, it will modify exercises and rev it up for those more advanced. You can also add music that you have on your phone during the workout for extra motivation.

One problem, I did run into is the speed of the app. If I made any changes to the availability of equipment or fitness levels, it took a long time for it to load the new workouts. I always made sure I was in a good service area and it didn’t seem to make a difference. Most of the time, I would have to exit out and restart the work out then it would operate just fine.

Jillian coaches you through each movement with videos so you can see exactly what to do. She gives cues throughout to help with form and slightly motivates you. If you are familiar with Jillian, she is usually very motivating and enthusiastic. In the videos on this app, she is milder. She gives a little information about certain movements and explains why they are great for you. You can even modify the amount of rest or transition time between exercises. Within a workout, you can pause and go back to a particular movement if you want to repeat. You can also skip certain movements if you have an injury or do not want to participate in that exercise. At the end you are asked to rate your session and it will adjust the next workout’s intensity accordingly.

Overall, I would recommend this app. Especially if you need a quick work out and/or have a hectic schedule that does not allow you to have a regular workout regimen. Or if you are just getting started and wanted to ease into a workout routine.


Nike Training Club (NTC)

The Nike Training Club is a great free option for both beginners and advanced.  When the app is first downloaded you take a simple questionnaire about your fitness level, goals, and type of equipment you use and have available.  From there they give you different plans that fit your needs.  For instance, a 4-week endurance plan or an 8-week strength and conditioning plan. Once your plan is selected it puts it into a calendar including your rest days.  Each workout has a video of the exercise so you know it is being done properly.  Once you start the workout it gives you coaching cues, keeps a timer, and tells you when to and how long to rest.  This can be a great option to help you stay on track while crushing your goals.

The app also offers workouts outside of your plan.  You can select what type of workout you are looking for.  For example, endurance, strength, yoga, upper body, and lower body. Not only can you search workouts by type, but also by muscle group. Once this is done, a variety of workouts are listed, their fitness levels and what type of equipment you will or will not need. It still gives you the coaching cues, timer, proper videos, and rest times.  Also, you can sync the app to your apple music so it will play music during your workout.  I highly recommend this app to people of all levels of fitness.

So, which one is right for you? Are you striving to run a 5K this summer? Is your schedule unpredictable and packed? Or do you want a plan and variety? We hope we made it a little easier to choose a fitness app. Happy training!


Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies department


  • This article really helps at some point great work done & Good review of free apps. Thanks for writing. For More Visit Here

  • Hi, these are nice reviews!

    It might be beneficial to note whether all the apps are available on both mobile platforms (iOS and Android).

    And links to each app in both app stores would be a nice thing to have in this post too.

    Great work!

  • Thank you Darren! The students are doing some pretty good work this semester–we appreciate your advice!