When it comes to working out, let’s be honest: finding excuses NOT TO is never our problem.
“The gym is too far away.”
“It’s too early/late.”
“I just don’t have the time today.”
“I can’t afford it.”
“I would rather have a cocktail/watch a series/sleep/have dental surgery than work out right now.”
We all know we should be putting in the weekly effort to exercise, not only for our health and fitness (physical and mental), but to improve our energy levels, help our sleep, and give us an extra confidence boost.
Thanks to the efficiency and popularity of YouTube influencers and free fitness channels, there are no more excuses not to carve out five minutes here or 20 there to focus on our bodies.
You can get into shape in your living room or bedroom, with your sleeping baby by your side or your toddlers building and throwing Lego bricks several yards away, while dinner is cooking in the oven.
You can work out for free, at 6am on weekdays, or whenever you have a moment at the weekend.
And, no matter your fitness style, from HIIT workouts to toning ballet exercises to meditative yoga, you can find a channel that works for you. Or mix and match for a varied routine throughout the week. For lots, you don’t even need any equipment. Just open up your laptop or switch on the telly and go.
Even better? Today’s YouTube fitness fiends are charismatic, effervescent, motivating, targeted, interactive and challenging - in short, everything we want in a fitness coach and friend.
We’ve come a long way from Jane Fonda, baby. Here are nine channels to get on your playlist now...
The Useful Yoga video series by Tonic is hosted by Frame yogi Steffy White and provides 10 to 30-minute videos focusing on your specific needs, from helping with stress, weight loss or insomnia to providing remedies for heartbreak and hangovers. The perfect start or finish to any day? Namaste.
Having recently topped a Forbes list of the world’s most influential fitness stars, Australian PT-turned-influencer extraordinaire Kayla Itsines (who’s behind the #BBG Bikini Body Guide phenomenon) has over 7 million Instagram followers, her own app and cookbook and a collection of branded merch from ankle weights to foam rollers.
You can get in on the action without dropping any pennies: Kayla’s YouTube channel - which is all about embracing HIIT - has targeted exercises focusing on abs, legs, arms and anything else you want to concentrate on, with visuals of Kayla doing the reps, as well as a written How To guide and list of exercises (so it’s really hard to mess up). Combine a few and get your total body HIIT fix for the day - in about 10 minutes.
Not a celebrity? Not to worry, you can still get an A-list workout, in front of your sofa, thanks to BeFiT, which has top trainers like Denise Austin and Jillian Michaels teaching everything from cardio and strength to dancer’s abs, Booty Barre and yoga flow.
There are even mobile-optimised workouts you can sneak into the office meeting room to do, as well as vids with 10-minute and under exercise routines. It’s also the channel to help you discover new workouts, like Krav Maga defense, Ballet Beautiful and Cirque School, used by aerialists.
Scola Dondo’s ‘That Fitness Life’ channel is packed full of dance workouts set to compelling Afro beats, fun dance music and Rihanna remixes. The 20-year-old personal trainer brings her infectious enthusiasm and energy to each routine and is her own best advertisement for her healthy diet and fitness regime, after losing 50 lbs during her teenage years.
Stiles founded her own brand of yoga, Strala Yoga, back in 2008, and the yoga style - “a movement which ignites freedom” - is now practiced in over 20 countries around the world. Tara offers all kinds of yoga, from prenatal videos to daily practices. With specific wakeup, bedtime and de-stress routines, there’s a video for you, whatever your needs. Bonus: Tara’s baby Daisy makes an appearance, too, proving that warrior poses - and yoga strength building - with a newborn in your arms is totally doable and not at all intimidating. #mumgoals
Another high-intensity interval training workout-based channel, BodyRock is your go-to for home-based strength and bootcamp training. This one is ideal for those who like accessorising their workouts with equipment: lots of the vids use dumbbells, a weighted vest, a balance ball trainer, a sandbag and a Challenger bar, so you can turn your sitting room into a fully stocked gym.
Cult YouTuber Cassey Ho is like your inspiring PT and bestie rolled into one, which is why her appeal has garnered her over 3 million subscribers on YouTube. Ho developed POP Pilates, a twist on traditional Pilates with playful music and dance-like moves. Her bubbly, friendly personality makes you almost forget you’re working out and her coaching is punctuated by (random, yet welcome) interjections about things like nail polish hues. There’s even a low-impact, high-intensity series of vids for those working out in small spaces like flats.
The Lean Machines
John Chapman and Leon Bustin, aka The Lean Machines, are PTs and health coaches who break down the moves every guy wants to master: how to deadlift, how to squat and how to do a muscle up and pull up. With myth-busting and healthy eating clips, too, these guys are all about an honest and safe approach to a healthier, fitter lifestyle.
Husband and wife duo Daniel and Kelli have been posting free workout vids on their Fitness Blender channel for the last six years, creating a vast resource of over 500 no-frills videos that can be used by anyone, no matter their fitness level or which muscle group they’re looking to target. You’ll find full-length (40 minute) videos as well as bite-sized five or 10-minute routines for when you’re pressed for time.