Many live class options
Easy to follow
Cardio dance classes
Difficult to follow
What is Obé?
Allow me to set the scene. I was holding a plank, my Pilates instructor was inside her rainbow-colored box, and she was calling out to me.
“Let’s go, Sara in Boston!” she said. “You can do it!”
Before you ask, no: I wasn’t having a fever dream or watching a Hype Williams music video. I was in my living room taking a class on Obé, a workout app that films high-energy exercise instructors in bright, pleasantly-hued boxes-slash-exercise rooms from its studio in Brooklyn, and beams them to your phone, tablet, TV, or laptop screen wherever you are.
Obé (allegedly an acronym of "our body electric" and pronounced as “obey”) is a workout app that offers live and on-demand home fitness classes. Based on its sunny color palette and workout types, its workout classes appear to be geared at young women who live in metropolitan areas and are susceptible to buying things off of Instagram. Because I fall smack-dab in the middle of this demographic, I saw a lot of Obé ads on my Instagram and Facebook feeds. So, when I got a chance to try it, I was already beyond curious to see what it was all about.
How does Obé work?
When you sign up for Obé, you take a brief quiz to gauge your fitness level that asks about your fitness experience and how you like to break a sweat. Then, it directs you to its dashboard, where it shows you the live class schedule for the day, with a few other suggested on-demand classes or fitness programs. If there is a live class airing, it will already be playing on mute on the home screen—if you want to join, you click on it to unmute and expand it.
The teachers can’t actually see you in the live classes, but they do see a list of names of the people in the class and the cities they live in. This makes it seem like they can see you, because they shout out things like “Great work, Ashley!” and “Way to go, Janelle!” and imply that they know you are trying your very best, rather than staring at the screen without moving as you try to catch your breath. Obé does not reveal how many people are in its classes, so, other than hearing the names in the occasional shout-outs, there’s no way to tell how many other people are doing lunges, bicycles, and downward dogs along with you.
What kinds of classes does Obé offer?
Obé has a wide variety of classes, including Pilates, yoga, barre, cardio dance, cardio boxing, HIIT, and strength training. Most of its workouts are 28 minutes long, though yoga classes are usually 50 minutes long and some Pilates classes stretch to 45 minutes. There are also options for five-, 10-, and 15-minute “express” classes. It also has options for kids and seniors.
How much is Obé?
Obé costs $27 per month after a one-week free trial. Subscribing for a longer period of time makes it more affordable—you can sign up for a quarterly subscription that costs $65 for three months (about $22 a month) or a full year for $199, or about $17 a month.
It’s one of the more expensive apps we tested—Peloton costs $13 a month, Aaptiv $15, and Nike Training Club is free. But a month’s subscription for the price of one drop-in workout class still could save you some money.
What’s good about Obé?
Obé accomplishes the difficult feat of making virtual fitness classes fun. There are a lot of classes to take, and all of them—well, all the ones I tried—gave me a genuine burn but still went by quickly. Most days, I found a single 28-minute class sufficient, but it’s also easy to double up (in the live schedule, Obé usually puts two complementary classes next to one another, like a lower body strength class followed by an upper body strength class) or add on a 10-minute ab session after a HIIT class, should you feel so inclined. Most classes have a warmup but no cool down (which I liked when I was stacking classes, so it’s probably for that reason), but Obé has five- and 10-minute stretch classes on-demand, so it’s easy to set up your own post-class cool down when you’re done working out.
The music that plays during most classes is what I like to refer to as “Selling Sunset music”—that is, algorithm-produced tunes that are engineered to sound a little bit like Rihanna, a little bit like Ariana Grande, and a little bit like Shawn Mendes, and play in the background of a lot of reality TV shows—but some of the live classes play songs by actual artists. Usually, I’d get hung up on the elevator music, but the instructors fill the silence by talking to you—sometimes by commenting on the exercises, sometimes by giving people shout-outs, and sometimes by just talking about what they did over the past weekend—so I didn’t end up minding it.
I also felt more drawn to live classes on Obé than I did with any other app I tried. This is partially because joining the classes feels so intuitive, and also because there’s a good amount of them—on weekdays, there’s a 28-minute class every half hour from 7 a.m. ET to 8 or 8:30 p.m. ET, and on weekends, live classes play from 9 a.m. to 4 or 4:30 p.m. Of course, this schedule may benefit East Coasters more than those out west, though I did hear a few Colorado and California shout-outs, even in earlier classes.
This takes a lot of decision-making out of the exercise process—something you will know well if you’ve ever searched for something like “ab workout” on YouTube, and had to scroll through the seemingly limitless options available to find the exact ab workout you want to do. If you decide to work out every weekday at, say, 8 a.m., you’d have a great, variety-filled schedule without having to think about it.
That said, you aren’t tied to the live schedule, either. You can search for classes on-demand—there are more than 4,000 available, according to Obé’s site—or join one of Obé’s training programs, such as “7-Day Arms” (a lifting program) or “30-Day Endorphins” (a dance cardio program) which gives you a preselected set of videos in a more concentrated category to do over a certain period of time. You can also download classes in case you want to exercise in a place where you don't have service or don't want to use your data.
What’s not great about Obé?
If you're looking for something to lead you through treadmill runs or outdoor walks, Obé is not the program for you. Its options are varied enough that I don’t think anyone would get bored, but it favors working with your body rather than with big gym equipment.
Obé’s classes aren’t totally gear-free, however. A decent amount only require body weight—mostly the cardio dance, boxing, and HIIT classes, and there’s an option to filter “no equipment used” for any kind of workout when you search the on-demand options—but many call for at least some gear. It’s all small, relatively inexpensive stuff that's easy to use in home workouts, such as resistance bands, hand weights, sliders, ankle weights, and yoga mat and blocks. In most cases, these can also be subbed in with household items, and instructors are pretty good about mentioning how to modify moves if you don’t have the equipment.
From my point of view, getting a good experience with Obé depends on if you’re OK with buying a few small pieces of equipment. If so, resistance loops, ankle weights, sliders, and barre balls are all sold in Obé’s online store.
How do you cancel Obé?
I had no issues ending my program when I was done testing. I logged into my account on my desktop, clicked on "Manage Subscription," clicked on the option that said I wanted to cancel, clicked through a page or through more to confirm that I was sure, and then I was done—the whole thing took about three minutes. If you created your account on an Apple device, you need to go through your active subscriptions in your settings and cancel it there.
Obé has some complaints on its Better Business Bureau profile from customers who say they weren't notified that their trial period was ending or they had to call the company to cancel their account. This wasn't my experience, but if you're worried about losing track of your payments, you may want to set a calendar reminder when you set up your account for a day or two before the trial ends or the next payment is scheduled. This way, you have some time to figure out if you want to cancel and the method you should use.
Is Obé worth it?
At $27 a month, Obé is more expensive than most workout apps, but even at full price, it’s not as pricey as many gyms or boutique workout studios, which often charge $27 or more for a single drop-in class.
Still, I had a little bit of trouble justifying the cost when comparing it to other less expensive apps such as Peloton, Aaptiv, and Nike Training Club that scored higher than Obé in our overall test, and offer similar (and sometimes more extensive) workout options. But if taking live Pilates and barre classes (and yoga, strength training, and all the rest) is important to you, then Obé is worth it. If not, a different app may be the way to go.
Should you get Obé?
Sure, I have nitpicks. But, on the whole, Obé does what it needs to do. It’s fun, easy to use, and, most importantly, made me feel more excited about exercising at home than not—which is exactly what a fitness app is supposed to do. At the very least, if you’re interested in Pilates, dance, and barre classes, it’s worth giving the free trial a shot.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Sara Hendricks is a former Health and Fitness editor for Reviewed. She has several years of experience reading and writing about lifestyle and wellness topics, with her previous work appearing in Refinery 29, Insider, and The Daily Beast.
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