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How Nike Training Club kept me motivated through a running injury
I’m a runner. I run almost every day, so when my ability to run is taken away from me, I go a little stir-crazy. After a few years of pristine running health, that nightmare scenario became a reality earlier this year. Foot pain turned into a trip to the podiatrist, which turned into a six-week break from what I love so much. It wasn’t easy to suddenly stop running, but my need to stay active led me to explore new ways to work out. I became good friends with a stationary bike, and then I discovered Nike Training Club — the free fitness app that got me through my injury and brought me back stronger.
Any time, any place
What ultimately drew me to Nike Training Club — and away from the stationary bike that tried so hard to be my friend — was its flexibility. Thanks to the various lengths, difficulties, and equipment needs, you can hop into a workout from just about anywhere. Unlike a stationary bike which is, well, stationary, if you have five minutes and a little open space, Nike Training Club has something you can try.
I’m a creature of habit, so I tackled most of my workouts at a local climbing gym to get out of my apartment every day. That meant space wasn’t an issue for me, and it opened up my options for having a full gym of equipment at my disposal. However, as a dedicated runner, my experience in this thing called “strength training” was nonexistent. I know that strength training would make me a better runner, but it never left me with the same satisfaction as pounding out 10 miles on a trail.
Nike Training Club's flexibility means you can work out anywhere, with a full gym or just your bodyweight.
As such, I gravitated toward the Beginner classes to start with. They’re shorter and easier, offering a taste of different stretches and lifts instead of an hour-long commitment. Once you get the hang of the basics, Nike Training Club has Intermediate and Advanced classes that introduce more equipment, time, and effort to the equation. I’ve moved on to the Intermediate classes, which last from 30 to 40 minutes — about the length of a short run.
Of course, I know that not everyone will have the time or flexibility to head off to a well-stocked gym during the day. If you’re just trying to break a sweat, Nike has a heap of bodyweight workouts to check out, too. You can filter the activities based on No Equipment, Basic Equipment, or Full Equipment and go from there. Not all classes feature one of Nike’s Master Trainers, either — if you just want a list of exercises, that’s also an option. In fact, I still come back to the five-minute class called Runner’s Yoga: Warm-Up Stretches almost every day. It’s a quick way to ensure I’m prepped to run, even if I know the stretches by heart. There’s virtually no limit to the Nike Training Club classes you can try out, which is probably what keeps me coming back.
Options, options, options
Mentioning options, let’s dig a little deeper into Nike’s four main workout focuses. Nike Training Club is divided nicely into Endurance, Mobility, Strength, and Yoga classes, and I’ve needed a little bit of all four to strengthen my foot on my way back to health.
I started my journey with some of Nike’s yoga classes, figuring they’d be the slowest and least intense, but I quickly learned that’s not always the case. While it’s true that some of the yoga workouts are nice, slow stretches, others can be pretty intense on my stiff runner’s hips. Thankfully, that’s where the mobility section comes in, pairing nicely with the yoga classes to make some twists and bends less painful. Honestly, most of the Nike Training Club classes fall into two or more categories, so even if you’re focusing on strength, there’s a good chance you’re hitting endurance or mobility too.
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about training plans. As a runner, I live and die by having a plan of what to do each day. Simply heading out for four miles day after day doesn’t work for me. Usually, I pick up a new Garmin training plan to train for a race shortly after my last one ends, so it was a relief to have the same option with Nike Training Club.
I live and die by a training plan, so Nike's two dozen options have given me plenty of variety.
To start a training plan, all you have to do is head to the Programs tab and find one that looks interesting. Nike currently has about two dozen to pick from, and, like the workouts, they range from beginner to advanced. So far, I’ve worked through the Yoga Flex & Flow and Strength and Conditioning for Runners courses and found that they both had their benefits while rehabbing my foot. The yoga program, led by two of Nike’s master trainers, mixed slow, relaxing classes with higher-intensity workouts, while the strength and conditioning course acted as short, fast complements to my daily runs. Nike’s yoga plans also offer some nutritional advice to help you pick healthier foods while you progress through the weeks.
I don’t have many complaints with Nike Training Club and its nearly endless list of workouts, though I wish I could customize some of the classes a bit more. You’re essentially limited to Nike’s pre-made programs, and there’s no simple option to create your own set of exercises once you have the lay of the land. However, unlike most alternative apps, Nike Training Club is always free, so it’s fair to expect a few sacrifices.
What are some alternatives to Nike Training Club?
While I picked Nike Training Club as my fitness coach of choice, it’s far from the only option out there. You can easily find a platform to meet your needs, especially if you’re already entrenched in another ecosystem like Peloton or Fitbit. Here are just a few Nike Training Club alternatives to check out:
- Apple Fitness Plus ($10 per month, $80 per year): Probably the best option for iPhone users, Apple Fitness Plus offers a similar experience to Nike Training Club. Apple’s fitness programs go beyond those that Nike offers, letting you choose from 12 different workout types, including dance and cycling options. It’s also slightly easier to share your workouts between screens like your Apple Watch, iPad, and iPhone.
- Peloton Gym (Up to $24 per month, free option): Peloton Gym is the new kid on the block regarding fitness apps. While the company’s expensive, often-meme’d stationary bike has been around for a while, Peloton is finally expanding into some free fitness offerings. You can grab the free plan, which offers access to about 50 classes, or spend up to $24 per month for the full-fledged experience.
- Fitbit Premium ($10 per month, $80 per year): If you’re a big believer in the Fitbit platform, there’s a good chance you already pay for Fitbit Premium. It provides you with sleep-tracking insights and is a must-have for daily readiness scores. Fitbit Premium includes several workout options, such as classes run by Fitbit and several streamable sessions from partners like Obe and Daily Burn.
- Adidas Training by Runtastic ($10 per month, $50 per year): As if Nike and Adidas weren’t already rivals everywhere else, the German brand purchased Runtastic back in 2015. It now has dedicated running and training apps like Nike, though you’ll have to pay up for the full features. Training by Runtastic has nearly 200 bodyweight workouts, as well as a customizable Workout Creator, which is something that Nike doesn’t have.
Nike Training Club FAQs
Yes, Nike Training Club shifted to a free model in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and has remained free ever since.
Although you can’t install Nike Training Club on your computer, you can use AirPlay or Google Cast to send your workout to the big screen.
Unfortunately, Nike Training Club doesn’t connect with Spotify in its current setup. You can, however, connect to Apple Music.
Yes, Nike Training Club is available on Apple Watch with an extensive library of workouts to choose from.