If you're determined to get fit, but don't have the budget for a gym membership or an endless parade of exercise DVDs to keep your interest piqued, try getting your workouts from the Web.
Streaming workout videos -- for cardio, Pilates, strength training, yoga and more -- are now available on dozens of sites for absolutely nada. The only thing they'll cost you is your patience: Most have less-than-perfect picture quality, a barrage of advertising and the occasional broadband hiccup or video lag to contend with.
But for the time-strapped individual who doesn't mind doing a squat thrust in front of a computer, these workouts are a perfect way to squeeze in a few minutes of exercise at home or in a hotel room, says Gregory Florez, chief executive of health coaching service fitadvisor.com and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise.
"Not only are these [free] workouts fresh, they can give you new ideas, and they're available to the person just getting started," Florez says. Plus they're available 24/7, unlike your running partner or the gym.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, March 18, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 2 inches; 77 words Type of Material: Correction
Online workouts: In Monday's Health section, an article about online workouts said workout videos from Netflix are available for streaming to PCs but not yet to Macs. Since October, the videos have been available for streaming to Macs that are Intel-based. Also, the wrong website was listed for Ultimate Pilates Workouts. It is www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com. The accompanying photo of a woman on an exercise ball was incorrectly credited. The correct credit, including the source's ".tv" domain, is www.exercisetv.tv.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday, March 23, 2009 Home Edition Health Part E Page 5 Features Desk 2 inches; 77 words Type of Material: Correction
Online workouts: A March 16 article about online workouts said workout videos from Netflix are available for streaming to PCs but not yet to Macs. Since October, the videos have been available for streaming to Macs that are Intel-based. Also, the wrong website was listed for Ultimate Pilates Workouts. It is www .ultimatepilatesworkouts.com. The accompanying photo of a woman on an exercise ball was incorrectly credited. The correct credit, with the source's ".tv" domain, is www.exercise tv.tv.
The hardest part is finding them. A Google search for "free online workouts" turns up a lot of sites that appear to be free, but most are merely peddling minute-long snippets of DVDs they want you to buy or a one-time sneak peek at paid-membership content. Even more frustrating is wading through the hundreds of thousands of fitness videos at sites like YouTube. ? Don't worry -- we've done your homework for you. Read on for a sampler of some of the best Web workout sites and what you can expect from them.
This 8-year-old diet-and-fitness site, established by EBay millionaire Chris Downie, is full of cardio, strength and Pilates routines to stream.
The no-frills workouts, videotaped in SparkPeople's Cincinnati offices, range in length from five to 20 minutes and can be put together as part of a free, customized diet-and-fitness plan for site members.
There are no hourlong workouts to be found on this site. The idea, Downie says, is to get beginning exercisers to commit to short ones rather than nothing at all.
"One of my favorite tips for people is to try to do 10 minutes of fitness every day," instead of shooting for the recommended 60 minutes, Downie says. "You'll end up doing more than 10." Downie says he founded the site after he logged 700 consecutive days of short exercise stints, greatly improving his health.
It's best for: With its calorie counters, recipes, fitness articles, message boards and support groups, this site is good for beginning exercisers hoping to make regular exercise a habit.
This video-on-demand network offers its online audience a wide range of cardio, stretch and strength-training videos that are 10 to 45 minutes long, and shorter mini-workouts focusing on specific exercises or body parts.
The site features experienced instructors such as TV's "Biggest Loser" trainer Jillian Michaels and celebrity trainer Kendell Hogan. The videos are engaging, contain solid cuing and can be watched full-screen. They can also be downloaded for a few bucks.
This site is not without its glitches. The video is a little fuzzy at full screen and sometimes a bit choppy. The constant barrage of advertisements is an annoyance.
It's best for: Fitness junkies who crave variety and usually work out with DVDs will enjoy adding these workouts to the mix.
( www.yogajournal.com /podcast) ( www.yogatoday.com)
Both sites offer free yoga workouts from certified instructors.
Yoga Journal, the bible of yoga enthusiasts and teachers alike, offers weekly 20-minute studio podcasts from yogi Jason Crandell and 20-minute segments from its line of yoga DVDs. The 20-minute routines, which include energizing sequences, arm strengtheners and hip openers, can be streamed or downloaded to your computer from the site. You can also subscribe on iTunes. The picture quality is relatively good and the instruction competent.
Yogatoday features one 60-minute workout a day from an archive of 300 routines. Filmed outdoors in the rolling hills of Jackson Hole, Wyo., the setting is relaxing, but the video is grainy and occasionally lags the audio. Each routine has a different focus, such as "Yoga Postures for Surf and Snowboard Riders" or "Ashtanga Primary Series: Part II." Enter your e-mail address and you can receive a list of each week's classes. A short advertisement precedes the instruction.
They're best for: Yoga lovers who don't want to shell out $15 for a studio class and runners who need a good stretch. However, they're probably not the safest place for a beginner to learn the basics.
Most of the major health and fitness magazines offer short videos that demonstrate exercises. But many of these are too short or too focused on expensive equipment that most people don't have.