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9 Ways the Internet Can Help You Stay in Shape

Deb Amlen
July 18, 2014
Woman doing yoga
Woman doing yoga


I sit for a living. I’m not a chair tester, although that would be a neat job. I’m a writer, so I sit, hunched over my desk, and write pretty much all day long to meet my deadlines. From what I’ve heard, this will eventually be the death of me. Thanks a lot, job.

Man hunched over laptop
Man hunched over laptop


You might be sitting in a similar situation, if you work at a desk. For those of us who would like to live long enough to be a burden on our children, we need to find a reasonably priced way to stay in relatively good shape.

If I wanted to invest a lot of money in staying clinically not dead, I could buy one of those standing desks, or even a treadmill desk, which would definitely be the death of me, given my propensity to get distracted.

Treadmill desk
Treadmill desk

(Daniel Rothamel/flickr.com)

“But Deb,” I hear you saying, “Nobody can stand and work for that long. Gyms and equipment are so expensive. And that hot personal trainer I’d like to hire? Totally out of my budget.”

Well, sure. We could get out and do something that’s not costly, like walk or, heaven forbid, run. But many of us work long hours, and the weather doesn’t always cooperate with our plans to exercise outside. And sometimes you just have to stay in and binge-watch Orange Is the New Black, because, hello, priorities?

Man lying on couch with remote
Man lying on couch with remote


OK, enough with the excuses. As counterintuitive as it may sound, there are many great online workout videos that we can use to turn that spare tire into a six-pack, or at least maybe not so much of a spare tire.

Even better, they are free. I’ve sampled several light workout videos that are accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and do not require you to purchase any equipment or workout plans. Because they’re free, you might have to watch an ad or two, but I normally use that time efficiently to stuff a Danish in my mouth and pour cold water over my head.

Standard disclaimer before we proceed: Please consult with a doctor before starting any exercise program. This is not a professionally recommended fitness program, so please seek professional advice before engaging in any physical activity. And as always, if something someone on YouTube tells you sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Use your judgment.

1. Quick core workout: Kelli and Daniel Segars of FitnessBlender have more than 1 million subscribers, and while they do sell workout plans, their YouTube channel has more than 400 free videos to explore. Both of them are certified fitness trainers and have more than 20 years of experience counseling people in fitness and nutrition. Want to take a break from surfing Tumblr and have about 10 minutes to spare? Try this low-impact workout for your core:

2. Aaahh, good stretch: Need a good stretch after sitting hunched over a desk all day, but have never tried yoga? Here’s a good beginner’s video by Yoga With Adriene that takes only 20 minutes but will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed:

3. Fight back and neck pain: Mom said to sit up straight, but it’s tough to maintain good posture when you’re focused on your work all day. Alleviate neck and shoulder tension with this video by Sarah Beth Yoga:

4. Stress buster: Mama also said there’d be days like this, and if you have had a really stressful day, try this beginner’s yoga workout for stress relief by Tara Stiles and LivestrongWoman:

5. Kick it up a few notches: Ready to sweat? Try this kickboxing-style class from Grokker, a relatively new website created by former Yahoo vice president Lorna Borenstein that features what seems like a gazillion videos on healthy cooking, yoga, and other forms of fitness. You can filter the videos by instructor, as well as by topic or target area. Grokker is free for now, but will eventually require a fee for its “premium” videos.

6. Awesome arms: If the very perky Cassey Ho and her Blogilates channel don’t motivate you, or at least make you smile while you’re working out, then I don’t know what to tell you. But this arms workout will make your arms tank top perfect if you do it regularly.

One tip if you’d like to add light weights to your workout but aren’t ready to invest in dumbbells: Grab two heavy food cans or filled water bottles from your kitchen and use those for the biceps curls.

7. Toned and sculpted thighs: Back to Fitness Blender, and you are 10 minutes away from thighs and glutes that are more toned. Also, pain. It’s not an easy workout, but I like that you get to rest briefly between exercises:

8. Fat blaster: This one from Fitness Blender nearly killed me, but it’s a high intensity interval workout (HIIT) and it burns calories like you wouldn’t believe. Try not to snicker like I did when he suggests doing the handclap pushups:

9. Get your ballet body on. Just because we sit all day munching Doritos doesn’t mean we can’t have the long, lithe bodies of ballet dancers, right? OK, maybe that’s totally unreasonable, but we can lengthen and strengthen to classical music as New York City Ballet director Peter Martins takes us through a modified barre warm-up in the New York City Ballet Workout:

 Whew! Maybe now we professional sitters will live a little longer. If the workouts don’t get us first.

Is there something weirdly popular on the Internet that you’d like explained? Write to Deb Amlen at buzzologyYT@yahoo.com and let her know. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@debamlen).