The Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA – If you’re bored running the same route around town or doing the same push-up, sit-up routine, there’s always YouTube. It’s a mecca for free workout videos. In fact, there are millions, which can actually make it challenging to know what to choose.
To help get you started, we asked athletes, fitness instructors, and other Philly fitness pros to share their go-to YouTube channels for working out at home. From yoga to HIIT to spinning, here are their top recommendations.
Recommended by: Mike Watkins, 30, owner of Festive Fitness & Wellness, specializing in QTPOC and LGBTQ inclusive and body-positive personal training, group fitness, stretch therapy, and wellness
Ask for yoga recommendations, and Austin-based Adriene Mishler’s channel, Yoga with Adriene, comes up a lot. Mishler’s been profiled by everyone from The Atlantic to Vox to the New York Times to The Guardian. And people nationwide, including plenty in Philly, love her classes, often noting how accessible and welcoming they feel.
“Her main phrase is ‘Do what feels good for your body’, and she allows for a lot of freedom of movement beyond what she’s telling you to do,” says Watkins. Watkins started doing her yoga videos four years ago. He now recommends them to his clients, too, directing them to videos that focus on specific body parts, like the lower and upper back or wrists. “She even has videos for ‘text neck,’ which are really helpful,” says Watkins. “And I really love her 30 days of yoga series.”
Mishler offers several 30-day series, designed to help you stay consistent with your practice. Keep a lookout for Benji, an Australian cattle dog who makes regular video appearances.
Recommended by: A’Tiya Brown, 28, yoga teacher and Reiki healer
Across more than a decade, POPSUGAR has amassed hundreds of videos on its YouTube channel. Workouts range from HIIT and strength training to Barre and Yin yoga to Latin and cardio dance classes.
“They have a lot of diversity on their channel not only in the types of classes, but also in the diversity of the instructors. It’s always nice to see that on YouTube,” says Brown. “The classes are quick, but challenging — I can do a 30-minute class and feel like I worked out for an hour.” Lately, Brown has been exploring Britany Williams’ Barre workouts. “I wouldn’t have done Barre in a studio, but I’m loving her classes, and it’s not intimidating,” says Brown.
Recommended by: Edward Chang, 43, seven-year triathlon competitor, now training for his second Ironman Triathlon, and board chair at Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
The Portland Athletic Center of Excellence (PACE) runs performance-enhancement programs catered towards athletes at multiple facilities throughout the northwest. But no matter where you live, you can learn from its physical therapists, personal trainers, coaches, and other certified experts though its YouTube channel. Most videos are geared towards runners, including a six-week series focused on strength and conditioning.
“I had some IT band and knee issues, and these include a lot of hip strength, hip mobility, and core exercises, as well as stretching and physical therapy training that helps prevent injury,” says Chang. “Every time I do them and go for a run the next day, my hips and hamstrings feel a lot better.” Chang incorporates the videos into his routine two to three times a week. All you need are a set of resistance loop exercise bands and an optional set of light weights “They’re ongoing exercises almost any runner should be doing,” he says.
Recommended by: Christina Black, 32, president of T3 Philadelphia Triathlon Team and five-year triathlon competitor
Created by a husband-wife personal trainer duo who wanted to make fitness more accessible, Fitness Blender is now home to more than 600 workout videos on YouTube. Many are HIIT or cardio based, but there are strength training options for just about every muscle group, too.
“They intentionally don’t have music, so you can put your own music on and still hear the instructions,” says Black, who also enjoys the vibe of the instructors. “They have a great sense of humor and are really charismatic.” Access the videos straight through the YouTube channel, or go to fitnessblender.com/videos, where you can easily sort by desired training type, duration, and difficulty level.
Recommended by: C.C. Tellez, 42, associate director of LGBTQ programming at Students Run Philly Style and 10-plus-times marathon competitor
Want to recreate your favorite spin class at home? It’s a tough challenge, but if you have a bike trainer or stationary bike, you may be able to get fairly close with videos from Spin Junkie. Led by Holly Miller, an indoor cycling teacher with a decade of experience at boutique studios in New York, Los Angeles, Orange County, Scottsdale, and Phoenix, Spin Junkie videos embody many of the same characteristics as a high-energy studio class.
“The lighting that she uses, the little headset, the music choice and volume, and her energy level — it all makes me feel like I’m in a class,” says Tellez. “A lot of other classes look like they’re teaching from their home, and then I feel like I’m just at home and am not in the right mindset.”
Some videos incorporate weights, many flash RPM levels to help guide the intensity, and sometimes Miller will yell out heart rate targets for those who have heart rate monitors. You can take the class on any kind of bike, but if you plan on following the classes directly and moving into standing positions, a stationary bike is encouraged.
Staff pick. Best core and low-impact workouts: growingannanas
Recommended by: me, Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Grace Dickinson
Based in Austria, Anna Engelschall curates the kind of HIIT workouts that will make you drench your living room rug in sweat. Filled with more variations of jumping squats and lunges than I ever thought possible, they’re among the most challenging HIIT workouts I’ve tried. But it’s her “no jumping” videos I’ve repeated the most. As a runner, these offer a way to cross train while giving my legs a rest from high-impact movement. Most videos incorporate challenging core work, but Engelschall has a variety of video workouts dedicated solely to ab exercises, too. Her style is minimalist — no talking (a huge plus for me), with a silent countdown for each move and a bell that goes off when it’s time to move to the next one.
— Mike Watkins, owner of Festive Fitness & Wellness
— A’Tiya Brown, yoga teacher and Reiki healer
— Edward Chang, seven-year triathlon competitor, now training for his second Ironman Triathlon, and board chair at Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
— Christina Black, president of T3 Philadelphia Triathlon Team and five-year triathlon competitor
— C.C. Tellez, associate director of LGBTQ programming at Students Run Philly Style and 10-plus-times marathon competitor
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