I must admit, I am one of those strange people who likes the gym. And not necessarily a fancy exercise studio but the old-fashioned sort with a cardio floor, weight section, ab floor and locker room. I like the smell of stale sweat and metal, the clang of weights and men emitting strange noises when they lift, the comforting whirr of a spin cycle; even Shakira’s 'Hips Don’t Lie' that played on loop at the last gym that I was a member of. As someone who desperately needs routine to keep her sanity, I've always gone to a gym with a very specific program downloaded off the internet: push-pull-legs, one body part a week or upper-lower splits.
I don't like exercising randomly, in general. Spontaneity is a stressor, not fun, as far I am concerned. I am also someone who gets very cranky if I don’t get in a sweat session of some sort. Therefore, finding structured home workout programs that I love has been a saving grace for me in the last three-four years.
Programs like these take the stress away from choosing or planning a workout session; it is already taken care of. All you need to do is open your calendar and press the play button on whatever program is already slotted there. And yes, these don't cost as much as a gym membership.
Fitness Blender: Kelli and Daniel Segars
These trainers will always be on top of my list; they helped me survive a terrible winter, heartbreak and two lockdowns. The Seattle-based couple’s YouTube channel now has a subscriber base of over 6 million, yours truly included, and it isn’t hard to figure out why. Unlike most fitness videos that are all about yelling instructors, bright lights and peppy music, this one is like working out with your best friends. Kelli, I admit, is my favourite. She radiates authenticity, laughs about missing counts, and always offers low-impact alternatives.
But they’re both excellent, and their workouts are very well-structured. Workout videos, which include strength, HIIT, low-impact cardio, kickboxing, pilates and stretching (and sometimes a bit of all) are free. But you can also buy programs that last one or two months and help plan your workouts for you that entire period or Fitness Blender Plus, which offers all this and more. If you’re short on time and want a good bang for your bucks, try the 24-minute superset total body strength workout (see video above) by Fitness Blender.
I discovered Sydney Cummings through a Fitness Blender support group (yes, I am that obsessed) and was impressed. Cummings, a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, has around 1.2 million subscribers and offers one no-cost ad-free workout video every day. She also has a paid community membership called the Sydney Squad, which offers group nutrition and coaching as well as accountability and support.
If that feels like too much of a commitment, you can also buy workout calendars, month on month, for a nominal cost. If you are a strength junkie who likes tossing around weights, Cummings is perfect for you; her workouts are full of simple but effective strength moves. Want great arms and sculpted shoulders? Try out the great upper-body dumbbell workout (see video above).
Kayla Itsines has been the “it” girl for online fitness for a while now, with 13.2 Instagram followers and counting. Itsines shot to fame in 2014 when she launched her Bikini Body Guide (BBG). It's an e-book with a detailed 12-week-long workout program that promises a better body and extolls her followers to post pictures of themselves on that journey.
The popularity of these guides—yes, I do own them, and they’re great—led to the launch of the Sweat with Kayla app the following year, which did very well too. And though she sold her fitness empire—for around $400 million—and changed the name of her guides (from BBG to High Intensity with Kayla), her philosophy stays the same. Her programs include circuits of resistance training, cardio—both LISS and HIIT—and one or two rehab or strength sessions. Unfortunately, you need to pay for most of her offerings, but you will find an occasional workout video on YouTube (see video above) if you search for it.