Working Out In The Coronavirus Crisis: Your Guide to FREE Fitness Resources You Can Access From Home
Listen, I’ve never been much of an exercise-nut, even under normal circumstances. I was a kid who hated and was always picked last (not sure which came first) during gym, but I also was part of the original online/video fitness craze when I religiously did Jazzercise with my mom in our living room on the VCR back in the ‘80s (I still remember some of the moves and the tunes!).
When I was in medical school, I took up running, and spend hours outdoors sweating away my anxiety and stress. But I also developed cholinergic urticaria (a fun condition that basically means you are allergic to exercise, in my case high impact, outdoor activity like running and especially in certain transitional or colder temperatures).
Luckily, I don’t get hives when I work out in a gym or in a studio, so I took up yoga, dance, Zumba, Nia, and barre3. I was happily going to my barre3 studio 3-4x a week this past year, until COVID-19 hit and we all pressed pause on life as we know it.
While all of our lives have been turned upside down by this virus, exercise is a great way to boost the immune system, and improve morale, which we could all use a dose of. So, what is a quarantined wanna-be-Jane Fonda to do? Here’s a list I've compiled of all kinds of amazing FREE online resources for every fitness fancy. And of course don’t forget about the great outdoors which are always free of charge – go for a walk, run, bike, hike in nature. Fresh air, sunlight and some vitamin D are always a great option.
But first, here are some basics that I am using to create my home gym:
Yoga/exercise mat: This is a must for a carpeted space and for practicing yoga or anything that requires mat/floor work. I finally splurged a year or so ago for a Manduka Pro mat that is the most incredible thing I have ever experienced in terms of cushioning and grip (but it is heavy for lugging back and forth to a studio, which is not a problem these days!), but some much less expensive options like this Gaiam one with really pretty patterns are also a great choice.
Hand weights: These definitely add some oomph to your barre3 workout, but you need to use much smaller weights than the ones for traditional gym workouts start with 1-2lbs, work up to 3-4lbs and eventually possible to higher weights). I prefer the neoprene ones for the best non-slip grip and ease of use, and right now the prices at Target for the Champion ones can’t be beat! If you plan to do more weight lifting or workouts that specifically target muscle building, you might want a set of heavier weights that can be adjusted like this one.
Blocks/strap: Great tools for the beginner or advanced yogi to work your way into trickier postures. Blocks (you will need a set of two) are so versatile and can be used in a variety of ways depending on how you orient the block. There’s no shame in my yoga game using blocks to obtain a much more beautiful shape than scrambling to touch the floor with my fingertips and losing form. Similarly, the strap can help you access more space in your shoulders, hip opening, and hamstrings. It can also be used for binding poses to help take some stress and weight off. A good strap should be made of thick cotton, with metal belt loops that can be used to tighten as needed. Sometimes you can get a nice set of blocks and a strap like this one. I prefer the cork blocks, but the foam ones are also a good option.
Resistance band: I love the ones that can be wrapped and tied or left open-ended rather than the ones with a fixed loop, and prefer the thick straps to the ones with handles and rubber tubing, but I think that’s based on my barre3 preferences. It all depends on which type of exercise you’ll be using the bands for and what type of resistance you’ll need.
Water bottle: Don’t forget to hydrate during your workout! Any water bottle will do, as long as it’s not a plastic single-use one (!). My personal favorite is the Hydroflask – it keeps liquids cold and hot for extended periods of time and is super sturdy stainless steel.
The Workouts: All Online, All FREE!
TOTAL BODY WORKOUTS/HIIT
Orange Theory: Cult favorite and new hotness Orange Theory is taking its studio classes online, with no special equipment needed. Earn your “splat points” and get that group motivation from an online workout through their app or on the website.
Planet Fitness: Gym giant Planet Fitness is offering free “Work-Ins” on their Facebook page, with surprise celebrity guest appearances. Live-streamed daily at 4pm PST, or catch the replay or Facebook or their YouTube channel.
Daily Burn: Now offering 60 days FREE when you sign up on their website, you get instant access to their entire archive as well as daily workouts that livestream every day at 9am EST. From group fitness classes, to barre, pilates, yoga and strength training, there should be something for everyone. They also have a lifestyle blog with recipes and wellness tips, and fitness app you can download.
Peloton: No, you don’t have to be a disgruntled wife or own the fancy bike to be part of the Peloton movement. I thought you would at least need some sort of bike or treadmill, but it turns out they are now offering 90 days of free workouts, including yoga, meditation, boot camp, walking, stretching, strength training and more. No equipment required! Ryan Reynolds not included.
Beach Body: From the folks who brought you P90X, 21-Day Fix and Shakeology, Beach Body On Demand offers you a 14-day free trial of over 1,100 workouts, including PiYo (pilates + yoga = crazy compound word) and more hard-core “insanity” type workouts. They also have nutrition plans, meditation and more.
Fitness Blender: A husband and wife team with a whole menu of fitness videos. Choose duration, difficulty, trainer, focus, and more to customize your workout. All totally free!
Sweaty Betty: I’m a huge fan of this London-based company’s athletic wear, and they also happen to offer a small selection of free fitness classes on their website.
Tone It Up: Pastel-colored workouts aimed at women and targeting specific zones to tone, they are offering 30-days of free workouts in the Tone It Up app as well as a whole host of live Instagram classes at from 7am PST onwards.
YMCA360: For a limited time, the YMCA is offering a wide range of free online workouts including barre, bootcamp, weight training and classes for seniors as well as Tai Chi. Hopefully, they'll be playing The Village People at some point.
305 Fitness: Billed as “An addictive cardio dance party” 305 fitness announces: “Let’s get weird. We’re bringing our signature 305 dance cardio classes to you every day at 12pm & 6pm ET on our Youtube channel.” With signature moves like The Bird and The V-Step, seems too weirdly exciting to miss.
DanceBody: A fitness studio run by dancers, DanceBody promises that no experience is required to enjoy this cardio-based, weight training dance-focused class. Experience DanceBody LIVE with a FREE 7-Day Trial or take 50% off your first month with code DBATHOME.
The Real Debbie Allen: Of Fame and Grey’s Anatomy is giving free dance classes on Wednesdays at 1pm PST on Instagram! How cool is that?
Zumba with Doyvdas: A cool Lithuanian dude dancing to hot beats on YouTube? Yes please. They even have Despacito. I’m sold. And it’s free!
NiaTV.fit: I love Nia. If there was a studio closer to me, I would probably have been doing it regularly. And now you can get a 30-day free trial of the revolutionary style that blends yoga, martial arts, dance and mindfulness.
Jazzercise: Well, how could I not give a shoutout to the OG ‘80s classic that certainly is updated and not-your-mammas-jazzercise. You get a free 14-day trial online or via your streaming platform of choice.
barre3: Unlike any other “barre” branded classes, barre3 is my exercise of choice. Founded by Sadie Lincoln right here in Oregon, it blends ballet, yoga, pilates, cardio, and a specific type of muscle toning that targets typically neglected muscle groups in isometric, small and large range movements. Great beats and inspiring instructors are what really take it over the top. A variety of props keep it interesting, but you can also practice at home with nothing but a yoga mat and possibly a chair or wall surface. Check out barre3 online for a 15-day free trial.
Fine Tune Pilates: A Toronto-based bespoke Pilates studio that also has a free YouTube channel, for all your Pilates needs.
YogaGlo: While not offering any Coronavirus specials, this is by far my favorite yoga app and they happen to offer a free 15-day trial at all times. You can customize type of practice, level, mood, duration and more to get just the right workout experience for total Namaste.
Gaia: Another great yoga online option, they offer a 7-day free trial and then it’s about 8$ a month, so much cheaper than studio classes, with an impressive range of styles, instructors, and non-yoga content like meditation and mindfulness.
Yoga Journal: A great magazine filled with how-tos and inspiring articles, they also offer a free YouTube channel with lots of instructional videos.
Tara Stiles: With a free YouTube channel, Tara offers short, calming classes to de-stress and unwind.
Yoga With Adriene: Another free YouTube offering that seems terrific. Videos are grouped by duration, so you can choose a short vinyasa or a long deep dive into your practice. You can also choose levels and specific purposes like yoga for back pain or weight loss!
Unicorn Wellness Studio: If you’re looking for something a little bit different, a little more crystals and energy and moon cycles, Unicorn Wellness Studio is just the place, with 30 days of free offerings. Tandy Gutierrez offers a new 30-minute workout every three days, new & full moon tarot readings, and a guided meditation. Every video is crafted in accordance to the current lunar cycle & astrology to harness & balance the energies at play in the physical and energetic body. Who doesn’t need more good juju right now?
Natalie Jill Fitness: An overweight mom turned fitness sensation, she preaches reverse aging and six-pack abs on her free YouTube channel. I might just have to check it out…
Livestrong: Beyond Lance Armstrong, this well-known fitness hub offers a free online YouTube channel with workouts by celebrity trainer Nicky Holender.
Betty Rocker: An irreverent, tattooed, self-styled “Punk Rock Betty Crocker,” Bree Argetsinger is a C.H.E.K. (Corrective Exercise and High-performance Kinesiology) certified Exercise Coach, a Nationally Certified Structural Integration Practitioner (realignment of the body through manual therapy), an ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) certified fitness nutrition practitioner, and an all-around fitness motivator. She will kick your butt in gear in style. Free daily workouts and a whole range of videos on her blog to choose from.
Cosmic Kids Yoga: psychedelic yoga, mindfulness and cheer from UK-based YouTube channel Cosmic Kids Yoga.
Go Noodle: High energy movement, dance, and fun on this YouTube channel chock full of free videos.
NEO Kids: A subscription-based site that is free for 30 days. High energy, functional, bodyweight exercises for the whole family that are divided by age groups (4-6, 7-9, 10-12).
PHEW, I feel like I worked out already! I know this list is far from exhaustive – if you have a favorite exercise platform or video channel or app, feel free to share it in the comments or send me a note! If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and networks. And to stay up to date on all things health and wellness and to get my FREE downloadable guide “5 Surprising Ways To Boost Your Energy” subscribe to my monthly newsletter. To book a free, private session with me, just schedule your appointment here! Stay safe, healthy, and Wild about Wellness!