December 4, 2020

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health is good for you

Don’t have a Peloton budget? No sweat. You can still get a workout without hitting the gym

7 min read
You don’t have to have a Peloton lifestyle or big budget to afford virtual fitness...

You don’t have to have a Peloton lifestyle or big budget to afford virtual fitness training. Here are 10 ways to use your smartphone to get a great workout.

Gyms might be starting to open back up across the country, but that doesn’t mean people are ready to dive back into them yet. Even though most facilities will have new cleaning protocols in place, gyms tend to be germy. In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, flu virus, and other pathogens, on a quarter of the surfaces they tested. 

If exercising in an enclosed space where people sweat, breathe hard, and share equipment with strangers isn’t your cup of Kombucha right about now, look no further than your own smartphone for an array of alternatives. Here are 10 of the best ways to get a great workout from your phone, tablet, or laptop – no matter where you are. 

Behold, the wine bottle workout
Behold, the wine bottle workout

Good for: All Levels, Strength, Mobility, Inspiration

My daughter introduced me to this series of yoga-meet-pilates classes at the start of our shelter-in-place days, and now I’m totally hooked. Certified Pilates and group fitness instructor Cassey Ho delivers just the right amount of perk, inspiration, and motivation – without being annoying – to make you sweat a lot (and swear a little) through intense low-impact strength and mobility moves. There are multiday programs for people who love a good streak, like a six-week boot camp or a Pilates (PIIT) series, and there’s a wide selection of à la carte routines too. The various videos run from five to 30 minutes. From the website, you can filter the level of intensity – beginner, intermediate, advanced — and pick a specific body area to focus on, such as abs, arms, legs, to name a few. My favorite videos are “wine bottle arms,” and the “total couch workout.” Both forgo traditional strength training equipment for what you have on hand, with the added bonus of sitting down on the couch and having a glass of wine at the end. 

2. FitOn (Free; $20/month for Pro Plan)

Good for: All Levels, Cardio, Strength, Dance, Yoga 

This site pulls you in with a quick survey on your fitness level and goals — and then gives you a semi-custom plan to get you going right away. It’s loaded with workouts, whether you want a 10-minute ab burn, reflective yoga practice, muscle boost with strength training, or fierce cardio set of 45-minute HIIT. It’s easy to find classes that feel tailored to you and your needs because that initial interview sets up a surprisingly accurate schedule of options. You can also get nutrition advice and track your progress.

With Nike Training Club, Nike Master Trainers lead all of the programs here, and there’s a little, or lot, of something for everyone.
With Nike Training Club, Nike Master Trainers lead all of the programs here, and there’s a little, or lot, of something for everyone.

Good for: All Levels, Family, Variety, Quick Workouts 

Nike Training Club really sets the standard of great virtual workout options. Nike Master Trainers lead all of the programs here, and there’s a little, or lot, of something for everyone. You don’t need any special equipment for most of the workouts, and you can integrate your own music into the routines. Choose the level of “athlete” you are –beginner, intermediate, or advanced – and select workouts based on muscle groups, strength, endurance, or mobility. If you’re starting from absolute zero, there’s a “Start-Up Benchmark” workout to test what you can do or the “Basic Burner” if you want to hit all your muscle groups in 15 minutes. NTC also offers nutrition and coaches you on the way to wellness, mindfulness, and better sleep. They also recently added NTC kids programming like “Animal Party,” “Jungle Adventure,” “Mini Training Camp” and more, featuring sweaty-fun sessions you can do with kids. And – here’s the part I really like –it’s all free right now because the site is “evolving as the world is evolving.”

4. C25K (Free; $5 for the entire plan)

Good for: Anyone who wants to get off the couch and run their first 5K (get it, C25K?)

Want to run a 5K and need a good coach to get you there? Here’s it is, right in the palm of your hand. This app takes you from couch potato to running a 5K – that’s the actual claim – and it’s laser-focused on that finish line. All you have to do is load the app, put on some headphones, and walk when it says walk. Run when it says run. Seriously, just make the commitment, stick to the plan, and enjoy the journey. It’s designed running newbies, and even includes music designed for specific pacing goals. The folks behind C25K also make similarly focused apps for training you to do pushups, sit-ups, and more.

5. Daily Burn  (Free 30-day trial; $20/month)

Good for: All Levels, Variety, Group Workouts, One-on-One Training

The Daily Burn is wildly popular for a good reason. There really isn’t a type of workout  –classic or cutting edge – they don’t offer here. There are so many programs, classes, and instructors, that I have yet to get bored, and quit any half-way through, which is always a good benchmark. You don’t need any special equipment, but if you have a treadmill or bike, they have fitness classes you can do on those too, and they offer audio workouts you can do outside. There are workout plans to take you where you want to go, whether that’s yoga matt, HIIT, rock-solid abs, strength training, and more. Or feel free to dabble in everything. There’s a new live class every day at 9 a.m.

Obe offers around a dozen daily, live, living-room-friendly classes from morning through the afternoon
Obe offers around a dozen daily, live, living-room-friendly classes from morning through the afternoon

6. Obe Fitness (Free 7-day trial; $27/month/$199/year)

Good for: Intermediate-Advanced, Strength, Cardio, Hip Vibe

Obé – pronounced ‘obey’ – has that sweet, sweaty irreverence of the coolest new (somewhat sadistic – in a good way) fitness clubs around. It offers around a dozen daily, live, living-room-friendly classes including “hip hop barre + sculpt,” “dance + sculpt 45” and “alt. rock upper body power” – from morning through the afternoon. This is the perfect fit if you’re the kind of person who loves a little “hip hop power flow” for lunch or to wake up with a “dance HIIT” class to get your groove on for the rest of the day. You can beam into live classes remotely, or do them on-demand whenever it suits you. The instructors are adorable and upbeat, and all that enthusiasm and spirit stays with you long after the class is over.

7. Alo Moves (Free 14-day trial; $20/month)

Good for: All Levels, Yoga, HIIT, Strength, Chill Vibe

Let me start this one with a little confession. I love leggings. Like all workout leggings. I wear them 90% of the time, whether I plan to exercise or not. Alo makes some of my favorite pairs. So when I found out they have an online yoga studio, I couldn’t wait to Namaste my way right into it. If mellow, gorgeous, and chill is the vibe you look for in a workout, you are going to love these classes. The yoga runs the gamut from 10-minute, strength-training sprints, to intensive full-course marathons with world-famous yoga masters. Oh, there’s also Pilates, strength training, HIIT, and more – all blended with a hint of yoga. The instructors are gorgeous. The sets are varied, mellow, and stunning. The workouts are hardcore but chill at the same time. And if you want mindfulness training with your fitness, this is the spot.

This "Netflix of fitness" hooks you up with around 2,000 different on-demand and livestream workouts from some of the most famous instructors and elite athletes on the planet.
This “Netflix of fitness” hooks you up with around 2,000 different on-demand and livestream workouts from some of the most famous instructors and elite athletes on the planet.

8. Neou Fitness (Free 30-day trial; on sale for $49/year)

Good for: All Levels, Family, Live Classes, Athletes, Pre/Post Natal

This “Netflix of fitness” hooks you up with around 2,000 different on-demand and Livestream workouts from some of the most famous instructors and elite athletes on the planet. It lets you follow a guided workout program, or browse classes by concept, which includes 72 different options like Pilates, machine cardio, strength, dance, and Bootcamp. You’ll quickly find your favorite instructors and styles, and it almost feels they’re in the room with you during live classes. You can also follow a series of classes from beginning to end – similar to signing up for a six-week Bootcamp or dance class. One of my favorite instructors is CrossFit world champion Annie Thorisdottir because she makes you feel like you can do anything, though she’s just one of the dozens of elite athletes and fitness personalities you’ll find here. If you have a cardio machine – elliptical, bike, etc. – there are workouts for that. These high-quality videos are shot in real studios.

You don’t need a fancy bike to get a Peloton workout.
You don’t need a fancy bike to get a Peloton workout.

9. Peloton Fitness (Free 30-day trial; $13/month) 

Good for: All Levels, Outdoor, Strength, Cardio, Meditation, Motivation 

Nope, you don’t need that fancy bike (though it remains one my top ten all-time favorite gadgets of all time, and I’ve used it for five years now) to tap into the super motivational world of Peloton workouts. The home-fitness app lets you join an array of awesome classes to flex, tone, stretch, strengthen, take your workout outside, and even meditate. You can even access Peloton’s full library of workouts streamed live and on-demand on Apple TV.

More workout options: 25 ways to take your favorite workout classes at home

Gaia yoga
Gaia yoga

10. Gaia (Free 7-day trial; $12/month)

Good for: All Levels, Yoga, Meditation, ‘Consciousness-Expansion’

Gaia’s been in the business of teaching yoga through video for as long as I’ve been doing workout videos – which is back to the VCR days. Now, they pack every (safe and legal) form of ‘consciousness-expansion’ you might imagine into more than 8,000 films, shows, and classes. The site says it’s “dedicated to finding and creating informative and enlightening films, original shows, classes, and articles that aren’t available through mainstream media,” and that’s true. In addition to wonderful yoga practices like “Sweet Slumber Prep” the site features meditation, Qigong, dance, T’ai Chi, and a whole lot more. 

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech columnist. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: No-gym workouts: 10 ways to exercise at home without a Peloton budget

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