Break a Sweat Without Breaking the Bank: 26 of the Best Free or Cheap Fitness Apps, Sites, and Podcasts | Fitness

wIt’s inundated with advertisements for gyms, yoga studios, and personal training, so it’s easy to assume that getting in shape or improving a technique will be expensive. But there are plenty of free or affordable classes and programs online. Here are some of the best places to start.


Yoga expert Adrienne Micheler.
Yoga expert Adrienne Micheler. Photograph: Alastair Levy/The Guardian

With 11.5 million YouTube followers, Adriene isn’t exactly the world’s best yoga bunny, but her signature service — 30 different videos in 30 days, landing each January, which can run all year — is one of the best, as she’s been It has been around for a decade. She has a gentle manner — she refers to the viewers as “my dear friends” — and an attentive, calm, accepting approach, which works for just about everyone except the Bikram hot yoga crowd, who only like it when it hurts.

Ah, you love to exercise until it hurts, you say. Kassandra, also on YouTube, has a lot of scope and you can easily build from nothing on 10-minute videos for beginners. But when you hit an intermediate Vinyasa for 30 minutes, you’re likely to sweat. I fell, but I had unwise slippery socks on. Strictness aside, I mainly recommend her for her clear communication. Often when a yoga instructor says something like “bring your knee cap to face the sky,” I can’t figure out what that means and by the time I do, the exercise is over. Cassandra is accurate. In addition, you can always hit the pause button. People prone to anxiety swear by her yin routine.

Don’t you worry? Good, because fitness on Instagram is a sensory predicament, like trying to attend a nightclub through your phone, taking in written instructions at the same time as physical ones. If you can handle all of those things, asanarebel is such a gem, covering yoga from beginner upwards but extending to Hiit exercises, mindfulness, toning and diet. If you find watching beautiful people doing things in any way motivating, you will like this.

This is a subscription app, which isn’t free, but you can try it out for two weeks before you commit. It’s mission-driven (lots of environmentalism and rebuilding, out of your gut and your own yard — see more on Twitter @MFML_) and bluntly against the body fascism that permeates visual platforms (“There’s no such thing as a body beach! All bodies deserve a rest in the heat!”). The yoga is well organized, clear and watchable; Brilliant lessons.


Home training with Zwift.
Home training with Zwift. Image: Zwift

This is supposed to be an economical driver so I’m hesitant to recommend a platform with a monthly subscription (£12.99) which also requires the purchase of A Thing. Even assuming you already have a bike, you’ll have to buy A Thing, and I justify that by saying that all serious cyclists have an indoor option for weather/time restrictions, and they all use ZwiftAnd the Even those who say they never use anything. You convert a road bike into an indoor bike with a turbo trainer: just detach the rear wheel and install it on the sprocket; It’s really easy (very expensive new, but available on eBay for about £80). Then you join the platform, and it’s amazing: custom software, group rides, CGI scenery, data collection, functions that only elite cyclists would use (structured workouts are too hard), functions that Mamils ​​(short: middle-aged men) would use Lycra) really (strength-to-weight ratio calculators), but enough users that anyone at any level can find a virtual club to join or a user to race.

Like Zwift, it’s a little cheaper (£9.99 a month) and the graphics are a little smarter.

Founded by a pair of very serious American cyclists – semi-pro mountain biker Frank Overton; Journalist and gravel rider Ben Delaney is his co-host – sharing his training tips aimed primarily at the elite rider. Their training suggestions can run to over 100 minutes, their idea of ​​kicking back and having fun is a six hour mountain climb with my mates – I wouldn’t even suggest this to the general listener, but it’s very motivating – listening to how much they love Riding. You don’t have to be good to join their gang, you just have to love your bike – and for that all you have to do is ride it.

Hosted by Anthony Walsh, this great mix of coaching advice, Q&A, and reflections is a must-have. A listener asked him one day how to become a “smooth” rider, one of those sleek, nimble bike-handling guys, and he said, “Watch the good guys, the good lads do things differently.” He has great presence on the ear and his coaching advice on the nose. , especially for intermediates and above (I’ve learned more about cadence than I’ll ever be able to use from his description of setting up ERG on Zwift).

strength training

Corey Lefkowith.
Corey Lefkowith. Photography: Duke of Lorraine

California-based Corey Lefkowith is blunt and a little bossy, but above all, she’s incredibly strong: I could watch her do rebel rows forever, only to marvel at the human form. (It’s a triceps curl using kettlebells, from a plank position, which seems impossible.) The workouts are comprehensive and varied; Focus on body weight exercises. You will not need a large amount of equipment.

Living columnist for women Fitness UK and also founded the givemest Strength training app. It’s completely dead but has an extraordinary infectious triumph; The first time I did Full North I wanted to punch the air. A lot of her Instagram reels are gym-based, so you’ll need weights to participate.

Chris Hemsworth.
Chris Hemsworth. Photo: Center

That’s a little geeky, and it’s not free (£93 a year), but stick with it: Australian actor Chris Hemsworth He put together a complete workout and meal planning app. Presumably her line is that if you follow her faithfully, you’ll end up looking like Hemsworth, which is clearly unlikely. But it’s hugely popular, mainly because it’s so masterfully produced: nice graphics, varied workouts, daily charts, and nice touches like “household hacks.” So if you don’t have sandbags, maybe you can use your own giant sack of rice?


You will have heard about Joe Weeks, but it would be rude not to include it. An objective lesson on why you don’t need to reinvent cardio every six months to get the benefit. He’ll go through 10 exercises, most recognizable from an aerobics class at any age, and by the end you’ll feel like a good person.

Lewis’s Insta content is a bit poetic — sometimes you’ll go for a walk. The 30 minute cardio workout on youtube More methodical and challenging.

Ben Ogden does 25-minute audio workouts, but also mini-volume themed workouts—a five-minute boxing session, for example. It can be pretty – he does the “towel workout” at one point, which is like a body weight session except with a towel. I don’t mind that. You have to be confident in your technique, since you can’t see it, and put your breaks in or you’ll lose.


I’ve done couch to 5k, back to couch, then up to 3k and back to couch again, and hearing my favorite coach, Michael Johnson (there are five, you can pick the funniest one), say “well done” never gets old. It’s a great beginner resource, taking you from the point where you nearly kill 90 straight seconds of running to 20 minutes of easy(ish) sliding in eight short weeks. All you have to do is show up. BBC funded, so there are no ads.

When you get to 5k, go straight to Nike, which will get you from there to the 10k and then to the half and full marathon. There are guided courses from 20 minutes onwards, virtual running clubs and playlists and great instructors (Dina and Dora Asher-Smith are amazing).

People who use it say Strava is all about community, which for practical purposes means sharing your stats with your sister-in-law and then trying to destroy each other with ever-improving kilometers per hour or continuous pace data for the rest of your lives. It’s like a cross between Facebook, Fitbit, and Wordle – connect, run/cycle/hike, collect data, and show off.

In fact, when you’re mining, gamification sends them all a little crazy — one person I spoke to had drawn a Christmas tree his way, complete with a star — but being crazy is good for motivating. It offers a three-month free trial, after which it’s £4 a month.

I discovered Steve Hobbes a couple of years ago while researching a mindfulness tutorial (I can only take state of mind advice from a guy in Epping Forest; by happy coincidence, there is one), and a fair amount of his advice. The output is a training tip, but I’m left to wander. Will does a monologue, on the run, about his mother-in-law, how insurance is a scam, and what freedom really means. Which is great because it’s like having a running buddy, except you don’t have to fight back.

if you are pregnant

Strong as a mother... peace!
Strong as a mother… peace! Photography: Rachel Marie Photography

There are two building blocks to working out before and after pregnancy: The first is other pregnant women, who are always less tired, less bulky, leaner, and better at glowing. The last thing you want is to walk into a room with them. The second is the aesthetic – look up online workouts and suddenly you’re in a world of pinks, pinks, flowers and hyper-sharp lines, like when you’re having a baby you’re suddenly 12. The only alternative is a girl-power sensibility (Slam means “strong like a mother”), which is Also annoying, but the exercises are good and not everyone can do without a pelvic floor.

There are paid programs out there, but the Insta post gives you the idea: The differences between prenatal and postpartum cardio mainly boil down to effect. While instinct might tell you not to jump during the eight-month-old jumping jack, it won’t necessarily tell you what to do instead, and that’s where Perry comes in.

Erica Zell isn’t as much of a rebel as her handle would suggest. Instead, she’s prolific and hardworking: podcasts, short Insta workouts, and programs designed in ericaziel.comsometimes extremely detailed (eg, how to get your heart back after a C-section), and other times California humorous (“the non-negotiable self-care in motherhood” *laughs forever*).

If you have inability

Sophie Butler uses a wheelchair as a result of a spinal injury and posts a lot of innovative and challenging content for people who are not fully mobile. She’s an educational and critical voice on a whole range of topics, from disability hate crimes to body fascism to fall fashion, and I could watch her for hours. she does Longest workouts on YouTube.

Kate Stanforth.
Kate Stanforth. Photography: Hannah Todd

Newcastle-based model and ballerina Kate Stanforth has been ill, sometimes confined to bed, with ME (myalgic encephalitis) since she was 14 but has been dancing professionally since she was eight . Over time, she has adapted her dance education and performances so that she is sometimes in a wheelchair and sometimes improvises with balance aids such as a Swiss ball or a large tree.

Zoe McKenzie also does individual training online and is the author of an e-book, Actively Essentials, which covers basic body Pilates, supine, seated and standing, many of which can be done from bed. She has lupus, a volatile condition, and has a deep understanding of the limits of fitness patter—breaking through the pain barrier, feeling the burn—applied to autoimmune diseases. Push yourself too hard because of a chronic condition and you could end up in an even worse situation.

If you are older

Former Olympian Jenny Stout.
Former Olympian Jenny Stout. Photo: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

Former Olympic sprinter and TV wrestler Jenny Stout has just the perfect, powerful, and elegant technique you’d expect—you wouldn’t end up in the Olympics for no reason. I mainly like her because she is always in a good mood. The videos are short and helpful for drilling down the right way to do a particular exercise or use a piece of equipment.

Mike Kutcher is a seniors physician with a huge back catalog of exercise videos for people over 60. If I’m being honest, the gentle pace, omnipresent resistance bands, and armchair protrusion are a little closer to 70 or 80 than 60. But he’s got a can-do winning Aussie demeanor and fast-paced narrative style.

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