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It’s January! And it’s that time of year when many of us decide it’s time to get off the sofa, put down the Quality Street – and GET FIT! But joining the gym isn’t the only option these days.
The rise of online trainers has completely changed the fitness landscape making exerise easily to access for everyone, as long as you have an internet connection.
You can literally exercise anywhere, anytime, anyplace – and you have an infinite choice of workouts and fitness programmes to suit your lifestyle and needs.
Gym or online trainer? Which one is right for you?
Increasingly, gyms and health clubs are having to compete with online trainers – and I have to say, I can see why gyms aren’t as appealing as they used to be – and why many gyms are struggling with memberships. One of the main reasons for this decline is the inflexibility of the opening hours,
Many of us work long hours and shifts and can’t always get to the gym when it’s open. Add to that the fact that all have different tastes and needs when it comes to exercise and gyms don’t always offer much in the way of variety.
I prefer yoga and weights, but I often find that when I’m free to train, those classes aren’t available at my local gym. I end up doing a ‘legs, bums and tums’ class that I’m not really a fan of, and then my motivation to return to the gym fizzles out!
When you can train with the best coaches in the world at any time of the day or night – and in the comfort of your own home – why would you bother with the gym? I’m a total convert! My main piece of advice is to spend time finding the programme that’s right for you.
Motivation is the key to success when it comes to following a fitness programme at home, and if you have to force yourself to do it, chances are, you probably won’t! Think about what you like doing, then find an instructor you like.
Pick the programme that works for you
I’m a big believer in working out by doing something you enjoy. Many people shy away from the gym as they are embarrassed about their lack of fitness, weight, or lack of co-ordination. I love Dance and Barre workouts but I really suck at them! Following these workouts at home allows me to enjoy my workout without having to compete with anyone else, or feeling silly if I head off in the wrong direction!
To help you find the perfect online fitness training programme that really works for you, I’ve been researching the best online trainers and programmes. Here is my round-up of my favourite online workouts – and as always, I bring you that ones that actually work!
Get fit this January with the 7 best online trainers and fitness programmes
Shona is a great believer in mobility which is one of the main reasons that I was drawn to her fitness programme. As I’ve got older and possibly as the result of shifting hormones, my job or goodness knows what, I have become stiffer and stiffer, so I have to be careful what I do in terms of workouts. I’ve been doing yoga for over 20 years, and before that, martial arts, so in theory I should be as flexible as an elastic band! But sadly I’m not. I tend to suffer with stiff joints and backache, together with a real lack of mobility.
What I love about Shona’s classes are that they are all about mobility but without the strain of trying to bend yourself into a pretzel shape that is never going to happen! Dynamic, short and very achievable, her classes are also easy to follow. She is also very likeable, and her workouts make sense to me. The programme consists of 3 X 38 minute long videos each fortnight repeated twice a week, along with one yoga video. Her workouts are fun, punchy, and most importantly, keep you motivated all the way to the end.
Another bonus with Shona’s workouts is that you need very little equipment – just grab a yoga mat, some kettlebells and resistance bands. I also love the recipes that she provides, as well as her advice on nutrition. The main attractions of these workouts is that they are easy to do, suitable for everyone, whatever your fitness level and the benefits are easily achievable.
As Shona is incredibly motivating, I don’t get bored or lose focus, and although the workouts are fast-paced, they are achievable and not overly taxing. She promises that with regular workouts you will be ‘stronger, fitter, more flexible – and with a better bottom, ” Yes please! ” This is my top favourite online workout – and with an endorsement from David Beckham, you know it’s going to be good.
Cost: The 12 Week Programme costs $52.50 (a one-off payment).
With 13 different Les Mills programmes and over 800 workouts available, including BODYPUMP, BODYCOMBAT, BODYBALANCE, CXWORX, BODYATTACK, RPM, SH’BAM, BARRE and BODYJAM, I can guarantee you’ll never be bored! Each class includes a variety of options, including longer and shorter workouts, and beginner and advanced classes. You don’t need huge amounts of equipment either; just a barbell and weights for the Pump section, an indoor bike for the Spin, and a Step for some workouts. A free 21 day trial means that you can road-test it first to see if it’s for you!
I’m a fan of Les Mills’ classes. From my own experience, they definitely work, although I sometimes find the instructors a bit cheesy! Shona Vertue is more down-to-earth and likeable. Although you need equipment for some of the classes, there are options for those who live in apartments or have less space at home.
Personally, I find the classes quite taxing, so if you’re new to exercise, you might find the intensity, and some of the moves quite difficult to manage. Overall. Les Mills is a great app for anyone like me who doesn’t have a huge choice of local gyms or fitness classes, or for those who work long hours and can’t fit going to the gym into your schedule. And it’s also perfect if you simply prefer to workout at home.
Cost: Competitively priced at $11 for a month, there are plenty workouts of all lengths to keep you motivated.
If you’re looking for a low impact fitness class that still gives results, I would definitely recommend the Barre Workout. And the best news is that you don’t have to be a prima ballerina to take part! If you love workouts that will improve your posture, lengthen and tone your body, and help you move more gracefully, Barre is for you!
By signing up to the online subscription service, you’ll gain access to 66 videos. It’s a very different type of exercise to Hit or Insanity, but make no mistake, you will still feel the burn. Perfect if you don’t like getting too sweaty – I know many women are put off working out because they want to avoid the drama of washing and drying their hair post-workout! I love these workouts. I can really feel – and see – the benefits, and there is a lot of emphasis on mobility which is one of my fitness priorities.
There’s also an option to follow a two, four or six-week programme to help you achieve specific goals. Workouts are led by very likeable trainers and the moves are explained clearly with modifications available to reduce or increase intensity.
Fans of hardcore training such as Insanity or weights might not find this hits the spot, but it would certainly be a great supplement to these type of workouts. And if weight loss is your main goal, you’ll probably need to mix Barre with some high intensity workouts. But if you want to feel more graceful and nimble, and don’t want to bulk up too much, Barre is the perfect online training programme for you.
Cost: Barrecore Workout is £25 per month.
Love indoor cycling and Spin classes? Then check out Peloton. An indoor fitness bike with a screen, the Pelaton bike and app gives you access to a wealth of Spin classes from all over the world. The tech that comes with this programme is second to none. You have all the convenience of an at-home workout with the same expert tuition, motiviation, social interactivity and ‘buzz’ of going to class at the gym. It really is genius!
That’s probably why Peloton are worth around $4 million! Pelaton, who employ the best Spin instructors in the business, run classes in their New York studio which you can tune in to ‘live’ and take part at home. There’s the freedom to follow a live class – there are 90 per week to choose from – or to access ‘on demand’ classes ‘out of hours, and whatever length, class, type of music and instructor you want. Perfect!
Your bike tells you what resistance you’re on and how fast you’re pedalling, while your instructor reads out the targets for you to follow. At the end of the class, the Pelaton app will tell you how well you’ve done, as well as charting your improvements and progress. A bit like a virtual personal trainer!
This is by no means a cheap option. Pelaton is an investment, with bikes starting at around £2000 and a monthly membership fee of £39.50. It’s best-suited to someone who loves Spin classes, is motivated to follow an at-home programme – and is serious about their training. There are options that will make this more affordable, such as paying for the bike in installments – around £50 per month.
I bought a Spin bike on Ebay, then subscribed to the Peloton App. This is obviously not as good as the having the whole Pelaton package, but it allows you to trial the classes and to see if Pelaton is right for you. The Pelaton bikes are completely silent, and if you use headphones, you don’t disturb anyone at home trying to work or sleep.
I do love stationary bike classes, but this programme isn’t for me as I like variety in my workouts. If you like stretching, weights and dance, then Les Mills might be a better option as it provides plenty of options. However, if you absolutely LOVE indoor cycling or you can afford the luxury of running multiple programmes, then there’s no doubt Pelaton is the best on the market.
If you love yoga, I’m pretty sure that you’ll adore Glo Yoga! With unlimited access to yoga, meditation, and Pilates, along with over 4,000 classes on demand, you can experience the benefits of your practice at home or on the go. There are 16 different styles of yoga to choose from, so you’ve got the option to try out a new style that you might not have had access to before. You can also access internationally renowned teachers that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to train with. The options don’t stop there. Glo has a ‘menu’ of classes of different durations and intensities to fit your mood and schedule. From a quick 5 minute wind-down to an indepth 2 hour experience, there are literally no excuses not to find time to develop your yoga practice.
When I attend a yoga class, I completely switch-off, surrendering myself to the time I’ve allocated to my class. However, when I’m at home it’s a different story! My pets distract me; my thoughts distract me; in fact, everything I can think of distracts me, with result is that I lose focus and stop my practice.
Very few of the Glo classes held my focus, however, I do think that’s more down to me than anything else, so this may not apply to you. I love yoga and there are some amazing classes avaialable online but for me, to have a successful practise at home, I would need a dedicated yoga space and be able to self-practise.
If you are less easily distracted, give it a go. A 15 day free trial will allow you to experience plenty of classes and to see whether it works for you.
Make sure you check out my favourite ethical yoga mat here.
Cost: The Glo subscription is $18 dollars a month – more or less the price of one yoga class in most place, so a very affordable way to practise if you can keep the focus!
Health and fitness fantatics who frequent Instagram will probably know Kayla Itsines already! Kayla has already encouraged millions of women to improve their health and fitness. Her 12 Week Programme combines a nutrition manual offering options for vegetarians and meat eaters. Take a look a sample meal plans here.
The workouts include resistance training, low intensity cardio training, and stretching. With 3 workouts per week – 1 leg day, 1 arm/core day and 1 full body workout – with each seven-minute circuit consisting of four exercises that you complete as many times as you can. Each workout comprises 2 sets of 4 different exercises. You do each set for 7 minutes, then repeat it twice. The programme gets progressively harder as the weeks progress, and the workouts are pretty fierce!
Kayla’s workout is perfect for anyone wanting to ‘change’ their body shape, lose weight or get in serious shape. The workouts are quick, so there’s no time to get bored or lose interest, but if you have joint problems, this isn’t the online training programme for you as it includes stacks of plyometrics training.
For this programme, you need a skipping rope, dumbbells, a medicine ball and a step bench. The workouts are available in PDF format but if like me you prefer to follow a video, you can find Kayla on the Sweat App – a fitness app with several fitness programs that are accessible for $19.99 monthly, or you can purchase the annual plan for $119.94 which then makes it a very affordable option. The programmes do contain difficult moves so if you are not already moderately fit or have any injuries, this isn’t for you. The workouts will also leave you feeling shattered, but if you’ve already got a good basic level of fitness and are determined to change your shape and lose weight this year, this could be what you’re looking for.
Cost: The Bikini Body Workouts Guide ebook is $47.32, then the Workout Guide and Eating Plan for $81.14. The Eating Plan is available separately for $47.32.
James Smith’s controversial approach to health and fitness has made him a bit of a cult figure in the health and fitness industry. His Instagram and Facebook videos are laden with expletives (he’s the Gordon Ramsay of exercise!) but it’s quite entertaining – and he certainly makes me laugh.
It’s a welcome light relief during a workout! Smith’s programme includes a personalised training plan – challenging but not unachievable – with demos for all the moves you’ll be doing. While the programme doesn’t include a diet plan, there is a recipe section designed by leading chefs that provides plenty of healthy eating ideas.
Instead of a nutrition plan, you’ll get a calorie allowance judged on a macro calculator and protein target. Upping my protein definitely made me feel fuller, as well as reducing my need for snacks, definitely one of the best tips that I learned from this programme. James also has refreshing views about celebrity endorsements, and takes no prisoners when it comes to the weight loss product industry, a view that I also share. Being healthy has to be a way of life. We all fall off the health and fitness wagon from time to time, but just get back on it, be sensible, eat less processed foods and more natural ones – and move more. It’s common sense, not rocket science!
James Smith’s app is easy to use and has plenty of really useful and enlightening information on nutrition, healthy recipes and lifting techniques. The macro calculator helps you to determine your nutritional intake depending on whether you want to gain muscle or lose fat, and also allows you to track your progress. And if you love lifting weights like me, this programme is for you, whatever level you’re at. The coaches are also amazing, and you will laugh your way through your workout. What’s not to like?
Cost: Pricing starts from £8.99 per month for standard membership. For a more personalised, the cost is £40.
A final note from me on motivation. Whenever you take on any fitness challenge, push through to achieve your goal. It will make you a stronger person in other areas of your life too. Not only does it help you to be more confident, it will also give allow you to take risks, stand up for yourself – and feel stronger, both mentally and physically. Good luck!
Whichever programme you pick, I’d love to hear about your experience.
Happy New Year!