Freeletics – A Sweaty Review
There are a ton of fitness apps out there promising you washboard abs, pert buttocks, and a significant increase in attractiveness to fitness models for just $2.99 a month… for the app, not the model. I think.
I have generally stayed away from them because I don’t think most apps can do much for you that a good diet and regular exercise won’t accomplish. Of course there are apps that are extremely helpful with tracking your fitness activities. Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal have been my staples for a long time. Runkeeper kept track of all my runs and MyFitnessPal combined the calories burned with tracking calories consumed. For anything else I had a Google Keep note with list of bodyweight exercises I would follow.
But when my kickboxing coach, who is in his mid-forties, kicks my behind all across the room six ways to Sunday, then I decided to ask him what his workout routine was. Besides surfing (which I can’t do), he uses an app called Freeletics to plan his weekly workout.
I decided to try it out, if only to compare it with my current workout regime. (It wasn’t to try and keep up with him. Honest)
What it is?
Freeletics is basically an individualised training plan adapted to your needs, that uses high intensity bodyweight exercises that you can do anywhere you can find some space. Their website is full of six-packs, glistening chests and intimidating glares. There are also some testimonial videos on their site which show some pretty compelling before and after images of people using the app for 15 weeks.
Since it is bodyweight only exercises, except for a pull-up bar and maybe a wall, you can pretty much do it anywhere in your regular workout schedule. That part is pretty useful. No need to get an expensive gym membership and fight gym rats for weights. You can just walk to the nearest park and get on with it whenever you have the time.
I downloaded the app and signed in through Facebook. Depending on your sex and fitness level, they suggest a workout for you to begin with. And then that was it really. I expected a bit more TLC from the app, but it turns out that to actually access the customised plans for yourself and see all the available exercises, you have to get a “Coach”. The coach costs $2.73 a week. So much for the “Free” in Freeletics.
What you are left with is a series of 11 workout plans that you can mix and match as you see fit. There are 18 more plans if you get a coach. You get a series of exercises free too. It’s not like you can’t find the rest of the exercises online but you don’t know how it fits in with the workout plan.
The exercises available are not too bad however, and seem to incorporate a full range of motion. Each workout plan has several rounds, ranging from three to five with little or no rest in between. If you don’t know how to do a particular workout, there’s a video you can download which shows you the exact range of motion you need to do to complete the exercise.
The workouts all have these obnoxious names of Greek gods, like Zeus, Aphrodite and Persephone. It’s going to be awkward when someone asks you what you are doing and you say you are doing an Aphrodite.
I threw in a workout at the end of a 3km run. It was hard. Really hard.
I started off with a Metis, which is three rounds of burpees, climbers and jumps. The first round you do 10 of each, the second is 25, and the third is 10. By the middle of set, I was gasping like a dying fish with sweat pouring off of me, catching strange looks from people jogging by. The thing about the app is that each set and round is timed, so you tap the timer after you finish a set. A really judgemental voice counts off the minutes the longer you take.
The biggest motivator the app has is its timer. The time you take to complete the workout shows up in the feed, and in the leaderboards, so if you are the competitive type you don’t really want to slack off.
The exercises work your core really hard, and stringing them together really rings the sweat out of you. You can do the standard workout, or do slightly different versions of it that focus on strength or endurance.
Workouts are gamified, so you get points for each workout depending on its difficulty, which then increases your levels. The leaderboards are dodgy, however. There are some people up there with impossible timings, so you know there’s something fishy.
Freeletics is a bit like bait. They say “Free” but they are really trying to get you on their subscription service, which is understandable. But the workouts available are pretty hardcore, and if you stick with it, I’d say it’s a good bet that you’d see some gains. However, if you are not going with their paid service, you’d have to supplement the available workouts to get what your body needs.
The app is worth a try. Go for it, and let us know how it goes.