The older I get, the more it seems to make sense to treat health and fitness as a sustainable lifestyle journey rather than a rigid regimen for the sole purpose of hitting goals.

The body positivity and self-care movements are trendier than ever, undoubtedly due to the fact that a large portion of society has become largely aware of just how unsustainable (and sometimes downright dangerous) dieting and weight loss tactics can be.

We could all perhaps use a little less rigidity and a lot more balance in our lives. And this is exactly what 8fit strives to help you with, by taking more of a holistic approach to health and fitness.

What is 8fit?

8fit is a comprehensive health and fitness app that integrates four main areas: exercise, daily movement, meal planning/tracking, and meditation. It essentially eliminates the need to use a separate app for each of these areas.

Although 8fit’s philosophy is more about building and sustaining healthy habits than it is about helping you get to your goal weight by a certain date, you can still use the app for weight loss purposes. When you first sign up, you’ll be asked a series of questions about yourself and the types of goals you have so that it can create a personalized experience.

The app interface features a clean and minimal design that’s easy to use, with main menu options at the bottom. On the main feed, you’ll see suggested programs and featured workouts, including upcoming classes you can sign up to follow along with or classes that have previously been held and will expire soon.

There’s also a handy little goal counter for completing workouts, logging meals, hitting your daily step count and completing meditation sessions so you can see at a glance how you’re hitting your goals for each area on a daily basis. It’s pretty basic, but that’s the point — you don’t necessarily need anything overly complicated to track your daily progress.

Weekly goals you set can easily be seen at a glance.

Weekly goals you set can easily be seen at a glance.

Credit: ElISE MOREAU

Users can pick workouts based on a variety of preferences.

Users can pick workouts based on a variety of preferences.

Credit: ELISE MOREAU

Working out with 8fit felt great, but it was limited for free users

8fit offers a good variety of workouts in categories like boxing, HIIT, yoga, pilates, stretch, strength, bands, and weights. There may not be hundreds of workouts to choose from, but there are enough to keep things fresh and interesting — especially if you’re willing to shift between workout types. Just know that there are more workouts in some categories than there are in others. For instance, I counted 58 workouts in the weight lifting category and just 27 in yoga.

The workouts mainly come in two different styles. The first is your classic video-style workout, featuring recorded video content of one of the app’s many fitness coaches actually performing the workout themselves and guiding you through it as they go. The second style is sequence workout, such as a time interval workout, which is a little more self-paced. For each move in the sequence, you’re shown a brief video of someone performing each move before a timer automatically starts so you can do the move yourself.

SEE ALSO:

The most essential fitness tech of 2021 (so far)

Workouts are meant to be kept relatively short. Most are around 10 to 20 minutes, with the longest one I’ve come across at 35 minutes. Each workout is labeled beginner, intermediate, advanced, or all levels so you know what to expect in terms of difficulty.

Before you start a workout, the app tells you what you need to get ready, which can be helpful if it’s your first time trying it. I found that the video-style workouts were very professional in terms of picture quality, coach performance/guidance, and the environment it took place in.

The sequence-style workouts were easy to follow and easy to pause if I missed something. When you finish, you’re asked to rate the workout as easy, perfect, or hard and choose an emoji (no, OK, or loved it) so that 8fit can improve its suggestions for you later on.

I really liked that you can select an individual workout on a whim, or you can sign up for a program that lasts several weeks. On the Workout tab, you can also see the newest workouts that have been added and the most popular workouts.

The biggest downside? Most workouts are only available for premium subscribers. You can tell by noticing the obvious padlock icon in the top left of any workout thumbnail. Without upgrading to premium, the number of workouts you’re able to press play on is extremely limited.

Sequence-style workouts walk you through one move at a time.

Sequence-style workouts walk you through one move at a time.

Credit: ELISE MOREAU

You get a chance to prep for each move, which was super helpful.

You get a chance to prep for each move, which was super helpful.

Credit: ELISE MOREAU

Meal planning is for premium subscribers only

I love exploring health and lifestyle apps that combine both fitness and food. Why use two apps when you can tackle both in one?

Upon navigating to the Meals tab, you’ll first be asked a series of questions about your diet type, foods you dislike, the types of recipes you’re interested in, how many meals per day you eat, and how much variety you want. 8fit then uses this information to build your personalized meal plan.

Unfortunately, free members can’t get access to any of the meal planning features. After answering all your meal-related questions, you’ll be asked to upgrade to move forward. Annoying, I know.

If you decide to upgrade, you’ll notice that the meal planning process is quite intuitive to browse and customize to your liking. You get tabs for each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack) with recipe tabs featuring photos, nutritional information, prep time, ingredients, directions, and kitchen tools you’ll need. You can even tap on an individual ingredient in a recipe to see its nutritional information and take advantage of the shopping list feature that tells you all the ingredients you’ll need based on the recipes in your meal plan.

If you eat something or do an activity outside of the 8fit app, you can log it manually. Logging on 8fit is very basic, and it’s primarily there to help you become more aware of your habits as opposed to tracking stats like calories consumed, calories burned, macronutrients, and so on.

That’s another thing — because 8fit is more of an awareness-building app for your lifestyle habits, you won’t see much in terms of data and analytics. Besides the mini goal tracker on the home feed and the calendar on your profile, you don’t get any charts, graphs, or other analysis. It’s also not designed to integrate with other fitness wearables or apps besides Apple Health and Google Fit, making it less versatile in that sense.

Plan your meals ahead, and easily change them if you want something else.

Plan your meals ahead, and easily change them if you want something else.

Credit: ELISE MOREAU

An in-depth view of the meal of the day.

An in-depth view of the meal of the day.

Credit: ELISE MOREAU

Is 8fit worth the premium upgrade?

I’ll be honest: The free version of the app isn’t very useful since almost all of its workout content is locked and you get no access to meal planning at all. The more you use it as a free member, the more pop-ups you’ll receive asking you to upgrade.

Despite the limitations of the free version, the app is beautifully designed and the content is excellent. It takes most of the decision-making out of trying to figure out what workout to do and what kinds of meals to plan without getting repetitive, making it worth the upgrade to an annual subscription for $79.99 if you like what you saw in the free version and simply want to take full advantage of the content and features.

Overall, 8fit offers a very practical, all-in-one destination for discovering new content, tracking daily habits, and sustaining a healthy lifestyle by discovering new workouts, programs, and recipes. It’s a breath of fresh air among a myriad of apps that focus mostly on numbers.