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It’s January, and we all know what that means. Gym advertisement time! With jingle bells as their harbinger, they kindly remind us that we’ve overindulged and should get our tushes to the nearest treadmill. Because, what other worthwhile New Year’s resolution is there besides weight loss, toned legs, and firm abs? And what better way to get them than subscribing to a big room of workout machines and buff strangers?

Obnoxious marketing tactics aside, I wholeheartedly agree that as a nation, we need to get healthier. But expensive gym memberships aren’t the only option to get fit. In fact, it’s not even necessarily the best option. CreditDonkey spending statistics for 2014 revealed that only 18 percent of gym members consistently take advantage of their access to workout equipment. It’s safe to say that for the whopping majority, gyms aren’t the answer to everlasting fitness health.

Whether it’s the commute, the cold weather you’ll encounter on the way, the people, or the cost—whatever the reason, if the gym isn’t the ideal way for you to get fit, that’s fine. What’s not fine is letting your fitness suffer. You don’t need a gym to get into shape. Of course, there’s always the outdoors. But there’s also the Internet, where you’ll find a myriad of mostly free (and good!) workout videos. Here are a few of my tried-and-true fitness favorites to inspire you.


Cost: Free on YouTube or with Amazon Prime
Fitness Level: Beginner

Hesitant to try kickboxing in front of a class of fit strangers? I was, too. Some people just can’t groove with the yelling and the music and the counting. At first, I assumed kickboxing might be a bit rough. But I was thankful to run across this Fitness Kickboxing Cardio twelve-minute warm-up with Stacey Cronin. You can do this before a full-on kickboxing workout, such as BeFIT’s Kickboxing Cardio Sculpt and Burn (for the more advanced) or as a mini cardio workout for when you’re pressed for time. I learned that it was actually quite cardio-inducing fun and pretty easy on my (pregnancy-laden) joints.

While the low-budget production might elicit the occasional chuckle (you can see the other camera in a couple of the shots), and the set looks like your yoga friend used her tie-dyed bedspread as curtains, I honestly had a blast. The combination of endorphins and nineties pseudo-techno will really get your blood flowing. Bonus: Cronin’s full Fitness Kickboxing is available to those with Amazon Prime, and it comes with a section that lets you focus on typical kickboxing moves—so you can perfect your form without needing a pricey gym session with an instructor there to guide you.


Cost: Free on YouTube or with Amazon Prime
Fitness Level: Beginners to Advanced Beginners and Intermediate

Want to indulge in the stretching and core workouts this exercise provides but don’t want to trek all the way to an expensive yoga studio? Then YouTube’s Yoga with Adriene is the antidote for you. She has an entire orientation series for newbies that includes doable moves and lots of encouragement. If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, try Amazon Prime’s Wellness Through Yoga. One thing I enjoy about instructor Kanta Barrio’s practices is that she emphasizes breathing, which is a natural stress reliever and a perfectly healthy way to begin one’s day.

While nothing can quite replace a yoga instructor who makes sure your poses are spot-on and that you’re not over- or under-exerting yourself, if you have none to some experience with yoga, I highly recommend these short videos. Only about twenty to twenty-five minutes each in length, they’re a little easier to incorporate into a relaxing morning or evening routine, allowing you to start and end your day on the right foot.


Cost: Free on YouTube
Fitness Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Already in pretty good shape and want to try something that’s a bit more intense? Hit up a Pilates Full 30-Minute Class. It is my go-to workout when I really want to work up a sweat. I also find the lovely instructor, Renée of Renz Pilates, particularly easy to follow along. Her routine is clear to understand and catch on to, even for someone who constantly struggles with being nimble and precise with directions. The only thing I would add would be music, which you can easily do on your own (plus, her soothing Australian accent lends its own relaxing melody). What’s also great is that the YouTube channel this belongs to, eFit30, has tons of other similar videos including Pilates, yoga, and total-body workouts that are definitely worth checking out for the fitter flock.

Boot Camp

Cost: Free on YouTube
Fitness Level: Advanced

Now if you want something to really kick your rear into shape, welcome to these thirty-seven minutes of intense fire and brimstone: the Fitness Blender Cardio Workout. Pros: You are in control of the pause button, so taking periodic breaks—if necessary—might make this a little less intimidating and a lot more doable for starters. Also, the production quality is particularly impressive for a YouTube channel. It includes well-modeled moves, dubbed narration, a timer, and a gauge of approximately how many calories are lost during each exercise. Cons: Like eFit30’s Pilates vid, you’re on your own with music for this one.

Like eFit30, this Fitness Blender Youtube channel also has hundreds of videos targeting cardio and strength workouts that are worth adding to your list of at-home fitness routines. They’re essentially guided high-intensity interval training workouts that you could pop while watching TV.

Need a Break?

Cost: Free on YouTube
Fitness Level: All

Whether at the gym, on the running route, or in your living room, after a tough workout, chances are that you’ll really feel the burn. It’s typical to have muscle soreness after a good workout. While you might be tempted to lie splayed out on the couch, try this ten-minute Sore Muscle Workout Routine video by Caroline Jordan Fitness to help you alleviate the pain so that you can get back to feeling healthy, happy, and strong. Despite what your body might be telling you (“Please don’t move me!”), it actually prevents injuries and increases strength and flexibility when you dynamically stretch those tired, achy muscles. This short video has been engineered to give your precious body the ultimate post-workout experience—and the ability to recover without stopping your routine momentum.

While these particular videos might not necessarily hit the spot for your personal needs (it took me a while to collect my favorites; there are so many out there)—don’t give up! There are all kinds of sources such as Hulu and your local library that I haven’t mentioned here (sorry, Netflix users, you won’t find exercise videos there). Assess your resources, and then play around and create your own at-home fitness routine—certainly more than enough to entertain you until the weather gets warmer.

Photo Credit: Brittni Willie Photography