Weird things happen when you train in public. You’re training at the pull-up bars at the park, and then a group of people gathers around you. They’re laying out their mats, saying stuff like “burpees”, “pull-ups” and “toes to bar”. And before you know it, you’re doing a group workout with them and having a blast.
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That group wasn’t a random bunch of people. This was a weekly meetup organized by the bodyweight training app AnyUp.
AnyUp, with it’s founders based here in Hamburg, Germany, is an app for Android and iOS that provides its users with a steady supply of daily workouts. Every workout solely consists of bodyweight movements. Workouts and exercise descriptions are high quality and its completely free (no ads, either).
Before I go on, let me give you full disclosure: I am not a regular user of workout apps. The simple biggest reason being that I like to tinker with my own programming too much. My training has specific goals I’m aiming for, for example getting a full dragon flag.
However, for people who want to up their overall fitness or want a workout to boost their weight loss without access to a good coach, AnyUp is a viable option.
What I Like About the App
First off, what AnyUp does for the local fitness community here in Hamburg is huge. They’re organizing free regular workouts twice a week. An instructor (like yours truly) demonstrates all exercises of the daily workout and assists during the training session. There’s music and everybody brings a positive vibe to the group. The creators of the app, Chris and Daniel, are both beasts. They’re obviously taking their own medicine with great success (they attend most of the workouts themselves).
The workouts are not random exercises scratched together. Every workout is structured and includes a warm-up (to increase body temperature and activate the system), mobility work and a full body workout (mostly push + pull + squat + core movements). The mobility exercises are often targeted at improving the mobility specifically needed for the movements that follow in the actual workout. I like this a lot and it’s actually not that far from my own training.
The app suggests scaling variations for most exercises. Some are similar to the stuff I demonstrate with the Neat Progressions. The workouts I attended had people with fitness levels ranging from complete novice to beast, and every one of the trainees found a variation that worked for them.
The app itself is gorgeous looking but simple. Little icons quickly show you if you need any extra props (like a wall for handstand push-ups or a pull-up bar). For every exercise, there is a high quality instructional video alongside a detailed description of the movement patterns.
I also like the idea of benchmark workouts (something they cribbed from CrossFit, I think). While there is always fresh workouts coming to your fingertips every week, some workouts are recurring ones. If you dutifully track your results, you can use these workouts to see if you’re improving. Or, you can just use them to push yourself trying to beat your personal best.
What Can Be Improved
Some of what I’m going to suggest here is personal preference, some of it could really add even more value to the app.
First off, I’m not a big fan of focusing your training purely around high intensity training (HIT). There is a time and place for that stuff, but I wouldn’t recommend doing HIT more than once or twice per week. As I described it here, your training should mostly consist of a steady diet of practice focused workouts. Not every workout should leave you completely busted on the floor, lying in a pool of sweat.
Sometimes, it’s good to push yourself. The caveat is that 70% of the workout, you will be in an exhausted state. Your movement patterns get worse and bad form is creeping up on you. When 70% of your reps consist of sub optimal form, you will become good at moving with bad form.
I would love to see some modest-intensity, strength-based workouts popup in the app one day.
I know this next part is not trivial to implement, but I think the scaling needs to include more smaller steps. For example, going from knee push-ups to full push-ups is a big jump. It would also be nice if the user could track which scaling variation they used for the workout for later reference.
Download AnyUp for Your Phone
My suggestions aside, this is a great app if you’re lusting for your dose of HIT workouts. It’s completely free, ad-free, no strings attached and available for iPhone and Android smartphones. The demo videos alone are worth downloading the app for just browsing the huge exercise library (especially the mobility drills).