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Online workouts to keep you on track

Without access to gyms, home-based exercise routines are growing in popularity. Whatever your fitness level, there’s something to suit everyone in this wealth of online resources.

Last updated: 25 Jan 2021 6 min read

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From gyms supporting their clients at home to PE lessons for home schoolers, movement advice for the less able, and daily online classes, one thing there isn’t a shortage of during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown is support for staying fit. With a healthy immune system vital for fighting the pandemic, and the need for positive ways to support mental health during this stressful time, exercise can help keep you well and add structure your day. With restrictions on outdoor adventures, you can turn to online resources for indoor activities. Here are some of our top pick.

Best for… gym bunnies

Missing your daily gym fix? It’s often easier to get motivated for a class if you’ve got your workout buddies with you. Luckily, during lockdown, lots of outfits are offering access to virtual classes via Zoom and other meetings apps. Check with your local gym, yoga studio or CrossFit box to see if they’re online (and help support a small business). While their branches are closed, Pure Gym is posting free workouts, or you can join an online gym, such as GymCube. Live and video digital workouts are available from a host of different studios at ClassPass, which is running a free trial. For Zumba addicts, Wollen Dance is streaming live classes, with 14 days free.

Best for… home schoolers

If you’re a parent trying to keep your kids’ energies focused, Joe Wicks’ combo of upbeat energy and easy routines is a welcome fillip. His Body Coach YouTube channel offers free workouts for all fitness abilities, but it’s his PE With Joe series that’s keeping parents sane. Every morning, his chirpy persona and bouncing locks are getting the nation’s kids moving – and giving their folks a 30-minute respite. He’s also donating the proceeds of his channel to the NHS. Double hero.

Best for… those who are older and less mobile

You’ve been told to self-isolate for your own good, but there are loads of things other than avoiding COVID-19 you can do to keep healthy. Jenny McClendon’s range of workout videos for beginners and those over 50 are available on her YouTube channel. Options include low impact aerobics, routines that can be done in small spaces, in-chair strengthening exercises for the less mobile, and useful stretches. You can even learn The Wobble – everyone’s favourite line dance. My mother-in-law is a big fan!

Best for… weightlifters

If you’re aching for some heavy lifting and worried about losing muscle without access to a barbell and plates, never fear. Strength Ambassadors are offering online strength training classes which require no equipment and are suitable for everyone from beginners to regular gym lifters. Available for a drop-in fee or membership subscription, there’s a discount for a trial class. The team is also posting free home workouts, again focused on strength development.

Best for… skill seekers

If you want to add a little spice to your workouts, and learn a new skill along the way, why not try a martial art? Kung Fu Zone is a YouTube channel run by Tiger Crane instructor Shkar Sharif. Through it he shares workouts and even full classes for students to follow along with at home, there’s a free week’s trial.

Best for… the time poor

Not everyone is spending the pandemic on the sofa. If you’re still doing a full day’s work from home, but want to fit in a workout before you begin, high intensity interval training (HIIT) will give you more sweat for your seconds. There are great free workouts available at Group HIIT, focusing either on full body workouts or specific muscle groups. Meanwhile, Do You Rumble is running daily HIIT classes via its Instagram feed. You can also throw in some ‘microworkouts’ throughout the day to keep things ticking over. Primal movement guru Mark Sisson has some great suggestions for toning up while the kettle boils.

Best for… going all in

For many, the weeks and months ahead will look very different from their usual lifestyle, offering the opportunity to reset, instil new habits and set foot on a healthier journey. If you’re looking for an all-in life reboot, which touches on every area of health, Whole Life Challenge runs a six-week programme. A scoreboard to record points won for performing seven daily habits, including exercise, nutrition, sleep and mobility, keeps you accountable, and there’s a supportive forum for connecting with fellow players. You can even form a virtual team, and see how you score against the rest of the world. And for those wanting a less competitive, more contemplative option, the team has designed the WLC Journey specifically to meet the health challenges being faced during the pandemic.

Our favourite at-home fitness apps

Tabata Stopwatch Pro Tabata is one of the most efficient forms of HIIT training, and this app will help you access its benefits. The display is easy to see, even with sweat in your eyes, plus there are beeps and voice alerts. Gives structure and focus to your routine, and plays your chosen tracklist.

Zwift The app that turns indoors into outdoors, Zwift is part video game, part elite training programme. Exercise with a community, race against fellow athletes, and explore the world via your screen. You will need a treadmill or Zwift trainer for your bike, but they’re still shipping, and offering a 30-day trial.

Aaptiv Claiming to make workout boredom a thing of the past, Aaptiv gives access to thousands of audio- and video-led workouts, with 30 new sessions posted each week. Whether you have gym equipment or just your bodyweight to work with, there’s an option for you. A seven-day free trial is available.

Zombies, Run! Add a little spice to your once-a-day outside activity and run to save humanity. Your mission is delivered through headphones, along with inspiring music. Then, periodically, you’re chased by zombies. Guaranteed to get the heart racing.

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Disclaimer - Consult a doctor or a health professional if you’re unsure about the suitability of any of these exercises before beginning a workout programme. These workouts are only a guide and should not be taken as professional medical or health advice.