Are you looking for a "no excuses" way to stay in shape? In this article, I'll share my experience working out with YouTube for the past 5 years. I'll discuss the pros/cons of adding YouTube to your workout regimen and I'll provide a list of my favorite channels and workouts, regardless of what type of activity you enjoy doing.
When I was in my 20's, I used to work out at the gym several times a week for an hour minimum. I had the energy and but more importantly, I had the time to do it. Now I find myself in my mid-30's, and suddenly, I don't have the luxury of infinitely long workouts. For one thing, my career is exciting and dynamic but it's also one that doesn't lend itself to a consistent schedule. I interface with companies from all over the world, so it's not unusual for me to start my day with a 7 AM call with India, and end the night with a late call with Australia. Add work travel to the mix, and my schedule doesn't make for a gym rat lifestyle anymore.
That said, the boost of energy and positive feelings that come from working out are an integral part of my well-being. Many of my friends and colleagues have asked me how I manage to workout given my schedule and my de facto answer is You Tube. About 5 years ago, I started looking for ways to get an effective workout in less amount of time and that's when I discovered You Tube as an invaluable tool.
Here are my top picks for YouTube workout channels based on my 5+ years of experience.
Winner: Yoga with Adrien
Adrien has 2.6 million subscribers to her channel for a reason. She has a well-rounded mix of longer 45 minute flows and short (5 minute!) yoga workouts. She has a great 30 day yoga program and she has a few sections on her channel dedicated to foundation yoga and beginners yoga which is very important for anyone trying yoga for the first time. She is also really funny and doesn't take herself too seriously, ("Hold Simba over the cliff!"). I would totally hang out with Adrien if she lived in Seattle!
Second Place: Yoga with Tim
My sister is from Orange County where Tim Senesi apparently teaches and says that the ladies love him. I can't imagine why (wink, wink, nod, nod). Shirtless yoga poses aside, Tim is a really great instructor. He has several morning total vinyasa flows that I love. Tim is my go-to when I want to bump my yoga up a notch, because I find most of his classes to be a somewhat intense, full body workout (read: puddles of sweat on my mat). That says, he has a number of restorative and beginner flows for those yogis looking for a more relaxing yoga experience.
Leslie Fightmaster is certified at the 500 hour level and instructs teacher training. Her channel is a great option for just about any of your yoga needs. She has total body yoga flows, beginner flows, and she even offers some specific types of yoga such as Hatha, Ashtanga practice and relaxing Yin Yoga, which are somewhat harder to come by on YouTube.
Sadie is the Director of East West Yoga in NYC. She created a style of yoga called "Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga" according to her it's more dance-like, fun and energizing. According to me, it's a really challenging, effective yoga workout that will give you amazing abs if you stick with it. She also offers "Yoga Shred" classes which is cross-fit/yoga hybrid. Sadie is also just an all around bad ass with punk rock hair and tattoos, kind of like the Anthony Bourdain of yoga. I recommend her if you are looking for a challenging and/or unique yoga experience.
Hiit Cardio & Strength Training Workouts
Winner: Fitness Blender
With 4.4 million subscribers, Kelli and Daniel have been producing some of the best fitness content on YouTube for over five years. I have been working out with them from the beginning and cannot give them enough praise. They have excellent workouts in just about every category including non-HIIT and strength training. However, I am giving them the blue ribbon in HIIT because they really dominate this category with 100s of videos with every duration you could want (full length to 5 minutes). They also have a number of 5 day challenges that are short, effective, cardio workouts that will kick your butt into gear. They throw in great tips about healthy eating here and there, as well. Lastly, they are located in the Pacific Northwest like me, so I have been particularly excited to see members of my community have success in this space over the years. They end each workout with their catch phrase "This workout is complete!" and man, do I love hearing those words.
Second Place: Millionaire Hoy
I've been working out with "Ya Boy Mil Hoy" for about 2 years now and I'm so happy I stumbled upon his channel. He has a great mix of very challenging, military boot camp style, fall on your face challenging workouts. He tends to do a lot of the basic moves we all know (and love?!) but in really killer combos - think lots of lunges, squats, and tons of push ups. I'm pretty sure he has invented a few new ways to do push-ups. Funny enough, he also has several "quiet HIIT" workouts that are my go-to when I'm traveling and don't want to get kicked out of my hotel. More on the low impact workouts below. He cracks me up with his "fist bump" to the camera at the end of every workout. Give Ya Boy a try - you won't be disappointed (but you will be sore).
Runner Up: Kat Musni Fitness
Kat Musni is relatively new to the YouTube workout scene, but she should not be overlooked. She has amazing upper body, strength training videos with free weights that I've been incorporating into my weekly routine. She's also a proud geek just like me and will often make hilarious, unexpected commentary about Star Trek and other pop geek culture that cracks me up. Pokemon fans - hold onto your Pikachu hats, she also has several Pokemon themed workouts! I kid you not - she works out dressed like Pikachu. She's adorable but also strong as an ox. I would fight a Pokemon battle with Kat on my team, any day of the week.
Runner Up: PopSugar Fitness
Don't be fooled by the bubble gum colors and the gorgeous ladies that host these workouts. These ladies may be HOT but they workout really hard to maintain their killer bodies. PopSugar has a great selection of workouts including some fun cardio dance classes that I throw in the mix when I'm bored of the same old burpee routine. Since they're based in LA, they also have a number of celebrity trainers in their videos. Want to know how Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift and Victoria Secret models stay in shape? This is the channel for you.
Pilates & Barre & Other Low Impact workouts
Winner: Jessica Smith
Jessica Smith is probably best known in the workout world for her "Walk Strong" walking videos which I must confess, I have never done but I'm sure they're good because Jessica is a pro. I stumbled upon Jessica years ago because I was looking for a YouTube video channel that offered barre classes. Though you may not guess it from looking at her channel since she's been advertising her walking series, she has a bunch of amazing barre classes hidden on there, if you know where to look. Her adorable little dog Peanut often makes a guest appearances and makes her adjust her workout because he's being naughty - eating her plants, or lying behind her when she's trying to do abs. If you're a dog lover - Peanut just adds to the appeal. Here are links to some of my favorite Jessica Smith barre workouts!
Second Place: Millionaire Hoy (low impact workouts)
As mentioned above, Millionaire is my go-to for quiet hotel workouts that still get my heart pumping. He has a series called "Silent but Deadly" which are amazing low impact workouts. Here are a few links to my favorites.
Fitness Blender's Pilates workouts
PopSuger Pilates workouts
The above channels should be more than enough to get anyone started working out on YouTube. Still not convinced?
Here are a few reasons you might want to consider adding YouTube to your workout regiment:
- Workout in the comfort of your home: Maybe you don't like working out in public or maybe you have kids and can't get a sitter to get to the gym for lengthy periods of time.
- Save Time: No need to worry about the time it takes me to get to/from the gym or what time that yoga class is. Furthermore, the duration of workouts available on YouTube vary from 1 hour, 30 minutes, 15 minutes, and even 10 minutes.
- Save Money: If you're on a budget and don't have money for expensive gym memberships or subscription workout services, guess what? YouTube is free.
- Avoid the dreaded workout "plateau": Introduce variety to your regimen with just about every type of workout you can imagine. And you can try it in a "judgement free, non-commital zone." Whether you're in the mood for yoga, pilates, barre, HIIT cardio, weight lifting, kickboxing, or low impact workouts - there is a workout for you on YouTube.
- You keep making excuses about why you can't get in shape. There are low impact and beginner workouts available on YouTube. There are even 5 minute workouts!
To provide a balanced view, here are a few of the cons to working out with YouTube:
- No instructor means you need to be careful: If you have never done yoga, you shouldn't jump right in with an advanced headstand class! Since there are no live instructors in your living room, using YouTube as a workout method requires a certain amount of self-knowledge when it comes to your physical limitations. The moment a workout doesn't feel right or makes me feel like I may be subjecting myself to injury - I shut it off.
- Some workouts require equipment and don't say so in the description. Ugh! Nothing like getting 15 minutes into a workout and realizing you don't have the super specialized elastic bands that the instructor magically procures from off-screen. Annoying.
- Did I mention you need to be careful? I cannot stress this enough. Know your limits. Have a strong beginner foundation in whatever type of workout you're trying and work your way up to the more advanced workouts gradually. Just because you're at home and no one can see you crying - doesn't mean you should push yourself to the point of pain.
- There are so many options it can be overwhelming and there is a lot of not so good content to wade through. Well people, today is your lucky day - because I have done the hard work for you and given you a list of the best of what is out there above!
I also want to acknowledge that there are some people out there who have been seriously injured or have other physical limitations that make working out with a professional trainer the safest route. Always consult with your medical professional prior to embarking on any new physical activity to ensure it is right for you given your circumstances.
On the topic of disclaimers: I'm not a personal trainer - I'm someone who has benefited from YouTube workouts and wants to share this resource with others who may benefit. I'm not getting paid by any of the YouTubers I mention above and I'm not an advertiser. Okay, glad that's out of the way!
To summarize, YouTube is great resource to consider for those of you who don't have the time to go to the gym or who prefer to work out at home. I hope that this article inspires some of you to workout regardless of where you are or how much time you have.
If you want to see more articles on this topic, let me know. Thanks all and happy working out!