For years, my main form of exercise was running. I was never wildly great at it, but a steady 3-4 mile run a few days per week kept me happy and feeling fit. However, after a few injuries, I was counseled to switch to gym treadmills to lessen the impact on my joints.
The gym quickly became my happy place, a few days per week where I could give myself the gift of at least one uninterrupted episode of “Fixer Upper,” accompanied by some exercise-induced endorphins. And yet, March 2020 came in all, “Scrreeechh! Put your brakes on.” I haven’t set foot inside an athletic establishment since the onset of the pandemic. So, I went back to my old friend of street running, and within a few months: ankle injury.
Running out of options (see what I did there?), I begrudgingly started looking for ways to get my cardio on at home. Though online workouts had always felt like a last resort, it became clear that the situation was calling for me to adapt. However, I have been surprised to find I really enjoy working out at home, and that there are even some advantages to online fitness.
A few advantages to working out in my family room:
- I am already at home and basically in constant athleisure wear, so it’s easy to jump into a workout
- There are SO MANY online options, and many are free
- I have been more willing to try classes I might otherwise be too intimated to do in-person
My only rule for an at-home program was that I like simplicity: I did not want to buy lots of equipment or convert some portion of my home to a workout studio. The easier to get started, the better.
Below are my favorite new-to-me finds for home workouts, as well as the top picks from some of our contributors. We’d love to crowdsource this: what is your favorite at-home workout option? Let us know in the comments!
Yoga with Adriene
I am not the only person who loves Adriene and her 100% free YouTube channel. With over 9 million subscribers, she is arguably the most famous yoga star on the platform. I started doing a daily yoga session early in the pandemic for anxiety and stress relief, and my partner joined me a few months in. Neither of us are particularly athletic or flexible, but Adriene makes that all feel a-ok, focusing more on the process and less on an idealized end-goal. She has several 30-day programs, which is a comfortable length of time to commit to if you are new to the practice. We have both noticed significant changes in our flexibility and posture.
This popular Portland-based franchise mixes ballet, yoga, and cardio for a pretty killer workout. A few years ago, I went to an in-person class or two, and really enjoyed the experience. However, it was always a big production to get there, and I felt a little self-conscious amongst the graceful swans around me. The beauty of at-home workouts is that you can flop and huff all you want; nobody has to know.
I was apprehensive about the Barre3 online program, but have been pleasantly surprised. It offers monthly challenges, tons of new options, and even live-streamed classes. You can filter by workout length, target area, and props needed, and there are plenty of workouts requiring no more than a yoga mat. I enjoy the body-positive messaging and the overall approach that seems a common thread among the instructors. The standard monthly fee of $30/month is pretty hefty, but they are constantly running deals, so keep your eyes out.
Unexpected Fitness Discovery: Oculus Quest 2
Three of my kids had one collective request for Christmas: the virtual reality headset, Oculus Quest 2. Knowing little about it, except that it came with a significant price tag ($300!), I splurged and gave it to them as a group gift. Little did I know that I was giving myself a gift, too.
The first time I tried the headset, I was hooked, and it has turned out to be a fantastic option for home exercise. One of the most popular games, BeatSaber, basically brings Tetris into a 3-D universe with light sabers, while requiring players duck and weave their way around obstacles. Another favorite, FitFX, has you practicing your boxing skills to music. Immediate feedback measures force and impact, so you can visually see the power of your moves.
BONUS: The VR headset has a series of games and programs for all ages, so it has also been a good option for home exercise for kids when going outside isn’t in the cards. I have been amazed to see my normally sports-averse child exercise upwards of an hour per day in a virtual-reality intergalactic, zero-gravity, soccer-like game. He gets so into it that he is dripping sweat by the end.
This option is quite an investment and one I didn’t make with exercise in mind. That said, with COVID still being a factor, several months of rain still ahead of us, and the sheer amount of exercise minutes we have collectively spent on it, we have gotten more than our money’s worth already.
Dance Off the Inches
Forget the terrible name (ugh!), and the fact that these videos are obviously from the late 1990’s/early 2000’s. I LOVE mastering the dance routines and looking a fool in my den. These are my go-to option when I know I want something that will get me moving but I am in a foul mood. They have a “step guide” that teaches you the basic footwork needed to learn hip-hop, salsa, country line dancing, you name it. Then, you put the combinations together in a dance routine that gets your heartbeat up. Just do a YouTube search for Dance Off the Inches and go into it all with a sense of humor.
I found Fitness Blender videos to be helpful for at home workouts. They have a website as well as many videos on youtube. They are quality, easy to watch videos, and accessible for free. If you are using their website, their search options are great. You can narrow down time, difficulty, type of workout like yoga or HIIT, use of equipment of not.
I used Les Mills for a hot minute and have moved on to Peloton (not with the bike, but their app has audio guided walking, walk/run, and running workouts with music for outside).
Sara Beth Yoga
Love Sara Beth Yoga on YouTube. She has a ton of bedtime yoga and after work yoga routines that stretch out bodies that have been cramped up in a chair all day.
Do you have a go-to home workout that you love? Let us know in the comments!
I had to send you this (Facebook post from Fit For Excellence LLC) after seeing your post about virtual workouts. Amy helped me lose 30 pounds and gain all kind of muscle all virtually, all during Covid. The people need to know about her.