I tried Rachel Hollis' app that's all about healthy habits — and here's what I thought

The author and motivational speaker has a new app called Rise that's all about accountability. Here's what I thought of it.
You may already be among 1.8 million people who follow Rachel Hollis on Instagram, where she shares motivational videos, stories and business tips. But her new app, called Rise, is meant to be a 24/7 reminder to keep the healthy habits you've committed to.
You may already be among 1.8 million people who follow Rachel Hollis on Instagram, where she shares motivational videos, stories and business tips. But her new app, called Rise, is meant to be a 24/7 reminder to keep the healthy habits you've committed to.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TMRW

As a personal trainer and health coach for more than a decade, one of the most common problems my clients' face is keeping up with healthy habits. It’s easy to sign up for one workout class or follow along with a diet for a week or two, but how do you create healthy, long-lasting habits?

If we’ve learned anything about health and wellness in the pandemic, it’s that they’re both of the utmost importance. But how can we make consistently healthy strides each day? That’s why I was excited when motivational speaker and author Rachel Hollis came out with a health and fitness app focused on daily habits that make you feel good.

You may already be among 1.8 million people who follow Hollis on Instagram, where she shares motivational videos, stories and business tips. But her new app, called Rise, is meant to be a 24/7 reminder to keep the healthy habits you've committed to.

The app serves as a cheerleader, accountability partner and holistic health coach all in one. There are five areas of assessment along with tips to help you exercise, eliminate one thing from your diet, drink more water, practice gratitude and (supposedly the easiest of them) simply wake up.

I started using the app and liked how I got to check off items in the daily assessment as I completed them. In that sense, the app is great for someone who’s Type A and loves checklists. The app even celebrates you when you’ve completed the checklist for the day.

Checking items off a checklist is a very soothing for a Type A person like me.

If you follow Hollis online, you know her approach to fitness is all about having fun and making it an enjoyable part of your day. But if you are a fitness fanatic, don't count on this app to give you an intense workout. I tried out a few workouts with different instructors and the mood was always similar: lighthearted, entertaining and at a beginner level. Though the workouts aren’t for me, the premise of the app is to create habits. So if you’re new to exercising or just looking for motivation to simply get up and work out, you may enjoy it.

Is squeezing an orange really a workout? I'm skeptical.

One workout was all about squeezing oranges. Clever, but I was laughing for the first half of it because I couldn’t believe this counted as a workout! (Although, who I am to talk; I’ve created workouts with bath towels before.) But my point is that if your fitness goals are weight loss, building muscle strength or changing the shape of your body (like larger glutes or a smaller waist), don’t count on this app’s workouts.

Instead, focus on these workouts as a vehicle for you to feel a certain way. In face, the app allows you to not only choose workouts based on the instructor and your level, but also the emotion you want to feel.

A list of options for workouts based on feeling

I got the chance to ask Hollis a few questions about the app, one of them being why she believes that the future of wellness is more than just workouts. Her answer?

“I don’t work out because I want to look a certain way; I work out because I want to feel a certain way," she said. "I want to feel strong and full of energy for my kids. I want to feel determined and capable as the leader of my company. When you shift your focus from the physical benefits of exercise to the mental, emotional and spiritual benefits, your entire view on health begins to change for the better.”

While some workouts in the app left me laughing (and barely feeling like I had done a real workout), the mindset of creating daily habits is what really stood out as a positive to me.

Rise emphasizes specific parts of wellness — such as sleep, exercise, water intake and meal prep — to give users a way to feel accomplished at the end of each day and week. Of course, you can also assess where you fell short, something the app encourages you to do.

The “Five to Thrive” daily checklist on the homepage also tracks how many days in a row you’ve completed them, which is great for staying the course. But I wish I had the ability to add in my own habit goals, such as going to bed early or eating five vegetables a day.

If you’re further along in your wellness journey, you may find that the app is a bit elementary. Which begs the question: Do habits need to be overly complicated to become a part of your everyday life? Perhaps this app is more about getting started.

Hollis says that she’s fanatical about her health because it directly impacts how she’s able to show up as a leader and a mom. “I’m constantly tweaking my meal plan or changing up my workout routine to give me the most clarity, focus and energy possible because it makes a tangible difference in my everyday life. My bedtime is similar to that of a small child so that I can get up at 5:00 a.m. to start my day. And because rest is just as crucial to wellness as hard work is, I make sure to take time off, have a spa day or, in a pre-COVID world, escape to the beach in Hawaii for vacation,” she said.

At the end of each day in the app, you’re encouraged to practice gratitude. There are more than 15 video options with gratitude exercises to help you cultivate a sense of thankfulness at the end of the day. This is actually my favorite part. I've tried writing out a list of five things that I’m grateful for each day in the past, but that lasts for a few days at most and then I’m bored of it. But in the app, it felt more creative, inspirational and something that I actually looked forward to doing each evening. I can hear Hollis in my ear or watch a new video that serves as the inspo I need in the moment to stick to this habit.

The "gratitude" portion of the app was my favorite part.

One piece that I felt was lacking was the ability to write my gratitude journal within the app itself. This is similar to what I was saying about not being able to edit anything in the app or add your own habits. I wish there was a way I could write in how much water I drank that day rather than just checking off if I drank half my body weight in ounces, for example.

I also asked Hollis for her top two nonnegotiable daily habits. Her answer? “I move my body for 30 minutes every single day and I drink half my body weight in ounces of water. These habits have become so ingrained in my routine that I liken it to brushing my teeth — I don’t have to think about it, I just do it.”

And that’s exactly what her new app encourages you to do — just do it.

The Rise app offers a seven-day free trial. After that, it’s $9.99 a month.