Chris Hemsworth may just be an actor who plays Thor, or he may be Thor himself. Based on his workout regimen and fitness knowledge — and the fact that he supposedly gained 20 pounds of muscle to play the role — we’re going with the latter. And, now you can find his wealth of workout know-how in his new fitness app, Centr, available on iOs, Apple Watch and online.
The app is a meal planner, personal trainer and zen coach all in one, giving users access to holistic plans that are personalized to their goals (lose weight, get fit and toned or build muscle). Each day you get access to a 20- to 40-minute fitness routine, three meal suggestions and a mind-body exercise, like meditation, sleep visualizations and breathing tips. Whether you want a body like Thor or need a kick in your step, the app offers plenty of suggestions to get going.
After hearing about the app’s versatility — think boxing, yoga, meal plans and daily meditations from leading Hollywood trainers and wellness experts — and growing tired of my regular workout, I decided to try the app for two weeks to see if it could shake up my lackluster routine. Verdict: it’s impossible to get bored.
Organization and user experience: The app has a simple-to-use interface that made daily check-ins smooth. From the home page, it’s simple to access your workouts, meal plan, zen moments and even substitute, as needed. The ‘Planner’ section pops up automatically with the week’s dates running across the top of the screen, so it’s quick to click from one day to the next to see your weekly fitness, meditation and diet plan. Videos and recipes are gathered in the ‘Explore’ tab so you can easily swap what’s suggested and the ‘Blog’ tab is full of bonus workouts, the latest research on diet and exercise and mental health — all of which should be required reading for anyone looking to get fit.
Workouts: The varied workouts (boxing, kettlebells, pilates, yoga, MMA and functional training) kept me engaged and I liked that they were lunch-break quick — most under 40 minutes. People who like HIIT classes will like these. I found value in the short and hard workouts, plus I could do them in my living room without extra equipment. If you have a gym membership or home gym, it’s possible to up the ante with the right equipment but you can also likely substitute with household items, like a chair or bench for a dip station and you can always jump in place when the workout calls for a jump rope.
The videos felt hard enough that athletes at any stage can learn from this app. Some workouts are self-guided (with still images and access to GIFs) while others have videos of the trainers performing the moves for a full 45-seconds, which we felt was easier to follow along.
Meal plans: The app pulls in recipes from six different chefs for breakfast lunch and dinner, and works with all types of dietary restrictions like vegetarian, vegan, no added sugar, nut-, dairy-, egg- and gluten-free (there are over 50 recipes that fit each category). You can expect everything from chocolate buttermilk waffles to a roasted veggie stack with halloumi and eggs, to mango, tofu and coconut salad and steak with roasted potatoes and herb vinaigrette. Most recipes can be made in under 30 minutes, which is ideal for weeknights. And, thanks to the prep advice and budgeting, shopping is effortless, too: the app knows what your meal plan is a week in advance and will automatically create a grocery list for you. There are even tips on how to use leftovers to maximize your purchases, which we’ve rarely seen in meal-planning software. We liked that most weekly recipes incorporated the same ingredients each day, so there’s nothing wasted at the end of the week.
Mind-body exercises: The daily meditations and sleep work clips are all under 15-minutes, which gave us no excuse not to do them. The expert guides you through a lesson, meditation or sleep visualization exercise, which is helpful when you can’t unwind at the end of the day. The exercises were soothing and interesting, but for someone who isn’t very good at relaxing, I found them hard to sit through.
Who It’s For: Centr is perfect for those who need someone else to take the wheel on a holistic fitness and wellness plan, whether you’re just getting started or already have a regimen. Their encyclopedia of a blog is also a great resource for those who want to learn more about getting fit and living a healthy lifestyle. It’s a breeze to tailor the app to your needs when you first begin: input your activity level, height, weight, goals and preferred type of meal plan (pescetarian, vegetarian, vegan or regular) and it will adjust automatically. Those who crave structure will like this app.
Watch Out For:
Workouts: We didn’t like the self-guided workouts because the moves are broken out into clips instead of one continuous video, and you have to click through to see a visual aid, as opposed to watching the move for the set number of seconds, as in the video workouts. They self-guided workouts are a bit confusing and less engaging, and you might not get a great workout in.
Meal plans: The recipes were a little redundant each week with a meal commonly repeated two or three times in the span of seven days. This could be good for those on a budget or who like eating the same thing, but I grew tired of it quickly. If you don’t crave ‘savoury oats with prosciutto and mushrooms’ twice in a week, you’ll need to sub in from the ‘Explore’ tab. It’s simple to sub a recipe in and even easier to not have to think about the nutrition since each meal is approved by a dietician.
The snacks made me feel misguided: There were brownies, cheesecake, dips and other things listed that didn’t seem snack-like. If it’s too much sugar for your tongue, look for everyday or pre-workout snacks that tend to have more savory flavors in them. Most recipes were around 350 to 500 calories a meal, which might be great for some people looking to lose weight, but not necessarily for someone as active as I am or for the average male. I would’ve liked to see a better snack selection to help people choose wisely. The USDA recommends adults consume between 2000 and 3200 calories each day, depending on your activity level (sedentary, moderately active or active), so seeing calories listed is helpful when tracking.
Alternatives: This app is one of the better training apps I have tested seen because of its surplus of resources and the fact that it’s truly fun — it makes getting into a fitness-and-health routine less of a chore. A few alternatives include Aaptiv ($15/month; iOs and Android), which provides you with a plethora of workouts each week so you’re never bored, but there are no videos, only sound. And while the Nike+ Training App (free on iOS and Android) and Strava (free on iOS and Android) are excellent for fitness, they don’t really get into nutrition and self-care. The Nike+ Training App does let you share workouts on social, which keeps things competitive in a good way. JEFIT (free on iOS and Android) creates a highly-detailed fitness plan for you, rather than just posting workouts and having you figure out what you like, but it doesn’t offer insight into nutrition, either.
Verdict: Centr does a good job of giving you a holistic approach to wellness as opposed to just tracking a run or how many calories you burned. It isn’t free, which is a drawback, but if you’re willing to stick with it after the one-week free trial, I’d say it’s worth the expense. I loved using it each day, found it fit seamlessly into my work day and, ultimately, I feel trimmer, especially in my glutes, legs and stomach. After checking the scale, I lost two pounds over the course of two weeks, which I attribute to trying different workouts and having more variety in my training schedule. When you shock your muscles with a new challenge or include more variety in your workouts, you’re better able to promote weight loss, build strength and see results. The fact that this app has so many styles of workouts made it possible to do so.
I definitely recommend giving this app a shot if you’re looking to begin a fun, versatile and reliable training program that’s easy to implement into your daily life.
What Others Are Saying:
• “This training, nutrition and mindfulness planner is the closest an app can get to a holistic life coach. The meal planning part of the app is as well designed and executed as the training part. You can adjust the servings required in case you’re making enough for leftovers or eating with someone else, and the quantities in the recipe change automatically, which then updates an auto-generated shopping list to help you in the supermarket, a smart time-saving feature.” — Jonathan Shannon, Coach Mag
• “It’s weird to think that no-one had ever thought of making a premium fitness service — a customer experience normally defined by expensive boutique gyms and a myriad of experts telling you different things — and optimised it for the subscription age, but Centr, for just $16 a month, does just that. It’s well worth the investment.” — Brad Nash, GQ Australia
Centr provided this product for review.