Editor’s Note: This originally ran in June 2017.
With the official start of summer, the desire to be physically fit and achieve that “beach body” (whatever that is) is at a seasonal high. Whether due to the general decrease in clothing worn or the soaring temperatures that just make everything uncomfortable, people want to look and feel good.
Unfortunately, for all of us late to the gym game (those that didn’t quite follow through on those New Year’s Resolutions but have big plans to crush them next year), that coveted summer body might not be a reality just yet. So what do you do? Do you get a gym membership and promise that you’ll go every morning right before overspending on a picture-worthy acai bowl?
Maybe. But honestly? Probably not.
Why? Well, one, those gyms are just too damn hot for a mid-July workout. And second, regardless of what many popular gym chains may want members to believe, “gymtimidation” is very real and very miserable. No one wants to enter a gym after a long winter of avoiding doing just that, only to glue themselves to the closest cardio machine and hope for the best.
Enter YouTube, the savior to all who hate the gym. We’ve dug through the masses and found 10 channels that specialize in providing a full workout from the comfort of one’s own home, so sit back—don’t relax—and get your sweat on.
After posting her first video on YouTube in 2009, Cassey Ho’s distinct take on training has turned into one of the largest female-focused online fitness empires—Blogilates. Though the practices focus around the class created by Ho—POP Pilates, combining pop music and pilates movements to create a more danceable practice—there is a wide variety of videos available, from single-song challenges to 20+ minute workouts. Each video is equipment free, besides the optional (but recommended) yoga mat. The best part? Ho preaches body positivity, fearlessly uploading videos detailing her struggles with self image. If you’re new to the channel, we recommend the POP Pilates for Beginners – Total Body Workout; for a challenge, a video from the PIIT series, Total Body Slim Down.
Since creating the channel in 2014, Caleb Marshall has provided a steady stream of entertaining, heart-pumping and user friendly dance videos that are perfect for a quick cardio session. The videos feature dancers of all levels, and that combined with Marshall’s near-constant comical interjections (not to mention his facial expressions) eradicate any fears of looking silly during the “Cardio Concert.” Further, as each showcases a different Top 40 track, the exercise aspect is quickly forgotten as infectious rhythms take over. Though the videos are short, you can compile a few into a playlist for a longer workout.
Because “every Heart and Soul deserves to be fit,” HASfit has pledged to provide all of its programming at zero cost. This doesn’t seem like that big of a big deal, until you realize that the company is providing not only over 1,000 full length workout routines via YouTube, but also 30-90 day fitness and meal plans. Even better, these schedules accommodate a wide range of activity levels and dietary restrictions. While the full programs are only available on the HASfit website, all of the separate routines can be found on the company’s channel as well as an estimated calorie burn for each. For a beginner’s workout, check out the video linked above; to really get your heart rate up, try one of the longer Tabata HIIT practices.
4. Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home
In the first few minutes, Leslie Sansone’s programs feel reminiscent of cheesy 1980s workout videos full of ever-present smiles, constant beats and tightly synchronized movements. After completing one of her 45-minute videos and probably working up a sweat, you’ll quickly realize that her walks are so much more than meets the eye. By incorporating interval training (even if not expressly stated) and keeping participants moving for the entirety of the practice, Walk at Home provides a full workout with zero equipment. It’s perfect for people who may be dealing with various physical limitations, or just want to find an alternative form of cardio to the classic options. For beginners, we recommend the shorter, one mile walks; to kick it up a notch, try the weighted videos for added strength training.
5. Tone It Up
When best friends and trainers Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott created Tone It Up, no one could have predicted the success of the company’s long-distance coaching methods just a few years later. Unfortunately, a few key factors are not free, such as the highly-praised nutrition plan and yearly workout DVDs. However, it is still possible to be incredibly successful with the shorter—but still dense—workout videos and recipes posted on YouTube. The best home regimen combines YouTube and the trainers’ website, on which they post daily plans combining multiple videos from the channel to create a full workout. To take it a step further, connect with the TIU community on Instagram for daily check-ins and challenges—such as the yearly Bikini Challenge.
Certified personal trainer Jessica Smith is showcasing her 15 years of experience in the form of weekly, full-length videos in an organized fashion. From meditation and walking practices to HIIT and barre, the channel is cleanly divided into 13 playlists that are actually maintained (a rare occurrence in the internet fitness industry). These videos have options for those with physical limitations, whether it’s chair-bound status, joint fragility or prenatal/postnatal body changes. And her adorable dog that frequently makes an appearance is an added bonus (is it just us, or is he much easier to identify with?). For those just getting started on a weight loss journey, we recommend the HIIT for Beginners series and accompanying free four-week plan.
POPSUGAR Fitness is the health arm of the popular entertainment and media company, providing a break from the celebrity gossip and fashion pieces usually highlighted. With its origins in mind, it makes sense that the channel puts a focus on the most buzzworthy workouts of today—such as the Victoria’s Secret model workout shown above, or the plethora of celebrity-approved methods featured. However, the trend-factor is no reason to write-off the channel as trivial, as it also provides short breakdowns of often incorrectly performed exercises, such as the squat or even basic stretching. Further, the sheer variety of practices available—from The Bar Method to P90X—ensures that users can fill a full fitness plan from home.
With over four million subscribers, Fitness Blender has become the ultimate resource for at-home fitness videos. With 500+ full-length (from 10 minutes to over an hour long) practices and 25 years of experience between the husband and wife training duo, the channel can easily be used as the only resource to create a full fitness routine. They advertise “no gimmicks,” which is true as you always know what you’re in for—from the titles detailing if equipment is needed to the on-screen timer keeping track of seconds until an exercise is complete. While the videos are completely free, the trainers do offer scheduled programs at a price that is low compared to many in the industry. For a challenge, pick any of the videos with “Brutal” in the title—it will be exactly that.
Though BeFit is another company that provides the majority of it’s content via paid downloads, subscription services and DVDs, it can still be a great resource for free, at-home workouts. It boasts a plethora of videos in the 10 to 20-minute range, done by top fitness trainers like Denise Austin, Jane Fonda and Scott Herman, to name a few. While this channel is perfect for those who want to raise their heart rate in a shorter amount of time, there are a handful of longer videos sprinkled throughout the lineup for those with more time available. Unlike a few in this list, this channel is definitely not aimed specifically at women and has many workouts that would be suitable for men looking for a challenge.
Texas-based actress and yoga instructor Adriene Mishler brought her motto “Find What Feels Good” to YouTube and hasn’t looked back since. From her videos on weight loss, with a strange juxtaposition of calming words and sweat-inducing poses, to her practices focusing on specific ailments like anxiety and migraines, the channel runs the gamut of mind-body improvement. Further, with shorter, focused clips detailing proper form of popular poses, Mishler carefully instructs users on the basics of yoga in a safe manner. For both beginners and the seasoned yogi, we recommend doing any of her 30-day programs—the perfect way to measure progress in the practice over time.
Emma Korstanje is a freelance journalist based out of Athens, Georgia.