7 Best Personal Training Apps

Whipping yourself into celebrity shape can be simple and painless

Ever wonder how Madonna still whips herself into shape at 54 years old, or how starlets carve those amazing, take-it-all-off bodies in a matter of months?

Of course you don’t! You know they spend boatloads of money on dieticians, personal chefs and, most important, tough-love celeb trainers who design—and, yes, implement (insert a scowling Jillian Michaels here)—brutal workout programs to keep them motivated. All that’s required of the stars is that they show up day after day, and do what they’re told. OK, maybe it’s not all that easy, but it’s definitely simpler than leaving all of the workout planning and personal motivation up to unreliable you.

Problem is, most of us don’t make celebrity salaries to fork over to a trainer. Fear not, though. With smartphone fitness apps getting more and more sophisticated, there are some pretty good—and totally FREE, at that— personal training options to help boost your fitness. The people have spoken (you know—in reviews on the iTunes app store and Google Play store), and these are the top 7 personal training apps:

This all-in-one app contains powerful fitness routine planning and tracking tools that help you target your workouts and keep easy track of your progress. Plan a routine—you can build whole workouts around individual body parts, if you like—before you hit the gym. Once you’re inside, JEFIT takes over, telling you what’s next (including animations) and even timing rest periods between exercise. It stores your info for later reference, plus packs more than 1,300 instructions and animations to help you find new exercises to achieve your goals.
Rating: 4.59 stars on 22,994 ratings
Available On: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android

#2 StrongLifts 5x5
Based on the popular StrongLifts 5x5 workout—5 sets of 5 reps of free weight compound lifts—this app is out to make you really strong, really fast on only three workouts a week. Like your own personal Bob Harper, StrongLifts tells you what exercises to do, how much weight you should lift (making on-the-fly adjustments when you plateau or fail) and congratulates you when you put in a solid effort or achieve an important goal.
Rating: 4.50 stars on 252 ratings
Available On: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

#3 CardioTrainer
This GPS-enabled app tracks virtually every detail of a lot of different kinds of exercise—including distance, time, pace, heart rate, calories burned—and provides real-time voice feedback so you don’t have to look down at your smartphone every few minutes. Also, it lets you create custom playlists, has cool features like autopause for when you’re stuck at intersections and motivates you to compete against other exercisers with an in-app game called “Move Your Bot.”
Rating: 4.40 stars on 53,699 ratings
Available On: Android

#4 Skimble Workout Trainer
This app represents perhaps the ultimate in-pocket personal trainer. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, tone your thighs, lift more weights or become a faster runner, Workout Trainer can help you with thousands of free workouts coached by real-life personal trainers. They’ll walk you through each exercise with timed step-by-step audio, photo and video, and—bonus—offer the same encouragement as flesh-and-blood trainers but won’t humiliate you on an off day. Feeling indecisive? Use the “Shakerciser” to choose a random workout based the amount of time you have and what area you want to focus on.
Rating: 4.35 stars on 50,722 ratings
Available On: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android

#5 GAIN Fitness Cross Trainer
Like Workout Trainer, GAIN Fitness builds personalized fitness programs from 350-plus exercises—for strength training, calisthenics, plyometrics and yoga—that are developed and coached by real-life trainers. Master your technique with high-def images, voice commands and targeted form cues. Like a premium trainer, this goal-oriented app also tracks each workout and keeps you on track to succeed.
Rating: 4.00 stars on 574 ratings
Available On: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

#6 Fitness Builder
This app has all the tools you need to get fit—a massive library of instructional training videos, live streaming personal trainers, progress reports, drag-and-drop workout builders and fitness plans. Bummer: You lose a lot of the FREE features after a trial month, but still get 300-plus exercise photos and videos and a handful of PumpOne workouts. It’s $6.99/month to continue at the Plus level.
Rating: 3.53 stars on 2,198 ratings
Available On: iPhone, iPad touch, iPad and Android

#7 Nike Training Club
Get Serena strong with Nike’s women-specific personal training app. More than 100 custom-built workouts—30-45 minutes for full-body and 15 minutes for targeted—shape and tone your every body part. Just enter your current fitness level and start sweating. The more you exercise, the more rewards you unlock, including workouts from celebs, pro athletes and trainers.
Rating: 3.23 stars on 27,075 ratings
Available On: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android