Online service Obey (pronounced “obey”) Fitness offers a modern take on those cult VHS workout tapes your mom used to watch. As you would expect from a company founded by former television talent scouts, Obé stands out from a crowded fitness field with its beautiful set design; engaging and charismatic coaches; and workouts that don’t require any equipment other than a laptop or iPhone.
To get started, simply choose one of the 15 types of training offered. These range from High Intensity Interval Workouts (HIIT) to yoga and meditation classes, and they can be streamed live or on demand. There is also a selection of multi-day fitness challenge sets that offer everything from seven-day beginner programs to month-long fat burner collections.
A whiter shade of pale
The first thing you’ll probably notice about Obé’s visual aesthetic is the background setting. Instead of the usual studio setup, the trainer is framed by blank walls. As you train, the hues of the walls change, creating a lively and vibrant feel with every workout. It’s almost enough to distract you from how hard you work.
Live lessons are the star of the show here, as having a scheduled practice schedule adds a sense of responsibility and gives you something to look forward to at the end of the workday. But if you can’t make it to the 20+ daily live lessons, there are over 5,000 on-demand lessons you can stream. On-demand lessons are the same format as live lessons, but you don’t have the small pleasure of hearing the trainer shout your name during a live session.
You don’t need any specialized company equipment, and some classes don’t need any equipment at all. Others require dumbbells and fitness bands, or items around the house, like a grab chair for barre classes.
The coaches will walk you through the workouts, sometimes speaking directly to the students and shouting personalized encouragement, and here’s where Obé really shines. A home fitness system relies on its trainers and programming to attract people to its service. Coaches can make or break the system, and Obé’s coaches are an absolute home run. Obé co-founders Ashley Mills and Mark Mullett started out as talent agents, and the majority of their coaching pool has experience in the entertainment industry. Their charisma in front of the camera and their entertaining personalities make every class something to look forward to rather than fear.
When I train a CrossFit or powerlifting class, I have to keep an eye on my limbs while they are doing the workouts, so I am very impressed to see coaches actively doing the workout while they are talking. While I was doing a workout with a fitness group with trainer Melody D., she constantly offered advice and encouragement, referring to participants by name and even offering short anecdotes throughout. During this time, I was breathless and incapable of anything beyond a caveman growl.
I entered it with a skeptical attitude – I’m used to carrying weights and lifting 20ft ropes, so I wasn’t sure how much these workouts would push me. About 15 minutes after starting my first workout, I learned the answer was “a lot of stuff”. It didn’t take long for me to refuel and jump a lap of the boards while I caught my breath (sorry, Coach Angelo G.).