We all know that exercise is good for us, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to fit it into our schedules. Finding motivation doesn’t always come naturally, especially when Netflix adds another season of The Crown, or the weather is bad, or you don’t want to go through the hassle of changing into workout clothes, or—really, I could spend all day naming reasons not to exercise.
But what if exercising were as fun—and easy to work into your routine—as letting Netflix “play next episode”?
Several months ago, I came across an article featuring more than forty-three ways to work out . . . all while watching TV. From Veronica Mars to How to Get Away with Murder, it lists workouts for individual shows, with specific exercises tied to each one’s relevant plot points and actions. Miraculously, I was suddenly as hooked on working out as I am on Project Runway.
But not every show I’m hooked on is listed in that original article. If your favorite one isn’t on the list (or on this blog, which has been creating TV workouts since 2013), have no fear. Here’s a list of common TV show situations coupled with corresponding exercises. So put down the remote (or reach for it during a left-side lunge) and get started!
01. The title sequence
It’s easy to avoid these, especially if you’ve seen them hundreds of times before. Instead of clicking “skip,” though, use the title sequence (even muted, if you can’t stand to hear that catchy theme song one more time) to start your workout by jogging in place. If the 30-second intro isn’t long enough, continue jogging until the opening credits have finished running along the bottom of the screen.
02. Commercial breaks and advertisements
If you’re watching your content on a streaming service other than Netflix, you’ll likely get ads (usually for local car dealerships, I find). Instead of trying to disable them (I see you, AdBlock), use commercials to work on your strength with some pushups. This is the perfect time to do them, since you don’t have to pay attention to the screen!
Put your hands a little bit wider than shoulder-width apart on the floor in front of you. Your feet should be in a comfortable position. Think of your body as a straight line and keep your head pointed a little ahead—not facing down completely. Lower yourself down until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, then push back up, all while keeping your body straight and core engaged.
03. When someone texts or talks on the phone
Skip or substitute your own rule here if you’re watching a show set in a time without telephones. For those watching shows with modern technology, use the onscreen phone time as a cue to lunge.
Start with your hands on your hips for balance, then put one foot in front of the other. Bend both legs until both are at a 90-degree angle. Once you’re lowered down, push back up to the starting position. (Weights are optional.)
04. When two characters have a serious talk
Uh-oh, there’s a serious conversation going down on your television screen. Guess that means it’s time for some serious focus on multiple muscle groups! Whether your favorite characters are having a heartfelt talk or the seasoned NYPD detective is grilling a suspect, use these moments to bicycle crunch your way through the scene.
Lie flat on the floor on your back. Put your hands behind your head, then bring your right knee in toward your chest. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then alternate to touch your right elbow to your left knee. The leg not touching an elbow should straighten out in front of you. Be sure not to pull your neck in—pull from your abdominals instead to deepen the exercise and stay safe.
05. When your least favorite character is on screen
We all have that character we find annoying, who always tries to break up our favorite couple, who makes terrible jokes, or who wreaks destruction on the whole town. When your TV villain shows his or her face, it can be a tense moment. Use that tension and concentrate it in your core for either a traditional or side-plank move.
Start in the same position as a push-up. This time, though, put your forearms on the ground, creating a strong base. To plank, straighten your legs out, lift your body into a straight line, and hold the pose. For more of a challenge, try a side-plank. Lie on one side with your legs straight. Use your forearm to prop yourself up on whatever side you choose so your body forms a diagonal line. Put your hand on your hip, tighten your core, and hold.
06. Characters sleep, drink, or eat
Our favorite characters sometimes dine, stay hydrated, and get a good night’s rest—just like we should. Any time you see a character sit down for dinner, grab a beverage, or get tucked in, work on your pile squats. A variation of the pliè squat, the pile squat should strengthen your quads and calves.
Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart and with feet pointed away from your body. Keep your back straight and raise and lower your body, keeping your legs stable.
07. When someone gets in a car
If you’ve got to substitute “spaceship” or “Batmobile” here, go for it. As your televised companions explore their world via some kind of transportation, get on the go, too. It’s time for burpees!
Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart and begin with a squat. But instead of raising yourself up from the squat position, place your hands on the ground in front of you and jump back into a plank position. From the plank position, jump forward so your feet are again between your hands. Finally, jump up straight and raise your hands over your head. Repeat.
Repeat the exercises as many times as you would like throughout your program, but remember to drink water, be aware of your surroundings, and make sure you’re not pushing your body in a painful way.
A balanced lifestyle is important, and if you can balance your love of true-crime documentaries with building your muscles and core strength, I think you’ve found a winning scenario for mixing passion and perspiration!