8 Amazing Free Workouts for Beginners

If you’ve not exercised since high school and want to get fit, it’s difficult to know where to start. Gyms can be pricey and feel intimidating as a beginner, and who wants to go running at this time of year?

That’s why at home workouts are a great (and warm) alternative.¬†And now in the age of YouTube, you don’t even have to fork out for a fitness DVD brought to you by the latest Celebrity Love Island runner up. Huzzah. What a great time to be alive.

I believe there’s no reason why you can’t get fit in the comfort of your own home. I personally find it’s a lot easier to motivate myself to stick on YouTube in my bedroom than it is to get myself out running after a long day. For this post I’ve chosen workouts that I have personally tried and found useful that also require minimal or zero equipment. Even with the ones that do, you can improvise with everyday household items, like cans of soup or bottles of water. Hell, I even used my boombox as a kettlebell once (that was unsuccessful, I do not recommend it).

The following workouts can be done at any fitness level, but they’re especially beginner friendly. It’s also okay to swear at your trainer because they can’t hear you ūüėČ The majority of the ones I’ve selected are led by women, but there’s absolutely no reason why men can’t do them too. The links to the videos are on the titles because I’m a WordPress Pleb and the site won’t let me put the actual videos in here. Never mind.

1.Fitness Blender: Calorie Burning Low Impact Cardio Workout for Beginners

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Source: Youtube/FitnessBlender

Anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes with me will know that I worship Fitness Blender. They are health-focused, body positive and just so damn LIKEABLE. And rather than baring their teeth and yelling ‘COME ON LAZY ASS YOU CAN DO IT’ until you collapse in front of your laptop in a pool of tears and vomit, they huff and puff and suffer with you through the hard parts and encourage you to take breaks if you need them. It’s actually very motivating.

This particular routine is very low-impact and has no jumping, so it’s especially good if you have knee problems. This is also makes for a nice recovery workout if you’ve been working out hard and you’re too sore to go full throttle.

2. Denise Austin РBurn Fat Fast: Cardio Workout

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Source: Befit/Youtube

Denise is much more famous stateside than she is here in Britain, but she’s one of the longest running TV fitness trainers and one of the best. Her workouts are the holy grail for beginners, and this dancey one is absolutely perfect for those starting out. I did this almost daily when I first started exercising and found that my fitness levels, which were shocking at that point, improved very quickly. This one is good if you’re pressed for time because it’s fairly¬†short. And the background people are unintentionally hilarious.

3. XHIT РTotal Arms Workout

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Source: Xhit/Youtube

XHIT are a chipper bunch with a range of excellent workouts. This arms workout, led by peppy Brit Rebecca Louise, is nice and short so again a good one to fit into a busy schedule. Ideally this should be done with a light pair of dumbbells, but cans of food or bottles of water work fine – or bodyweight only probably won’t do any harm. Adjust how much weight you use to what you can handle.

XHIT’s channel sadly doesn’t seem to be updated anymore, but Rebecca is very encouraging and flies solo these days. She does a bunch of other good toning/strength videos – I particularly recommend her abs workouts, many of which feature her dog Alfie ‘helping Mummy out’. It’s all a little bit weird but certainly a unique selling point.

4. Boho Beautiful РEasy Yoga for Beginners

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Source: Youtube/Boho Beautiful

This is a gorgeous workout brought to you by self proclaimed ‘digital hippies’ Boho Beautiful. Filmed in the beautiful surroundings of Thailand, this is a gorgeous workout, great for both gentle exercise and a little relaxation. Yoga is great for enhancing your flexibility and the evidence for its health benefits are well documented. Get your zen on, bitches.

Really don’t worry if you find some of the poses hard; this lady is a former professional gymnast who has been doing yoga for years. Just do the best you can and if your body tells you it can’t do something, it’s important not to force it. Work with what your body can do and take it slow – otherwise you run the risk of hurting yourself and not being able to exercise at all.

5. Cassey Ho РFabulous Flat Abs for Beginners

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Source: Youtube/Livestrong Women

Fitness instructor Cassey Ho needs no introduction. Her channel Blogilates has made her an internet celebrity, and rightly so; she knows her shit. She’s also an advocate of body positivity – watch her moving ‘The Perfect Body’ video here, a response to criticism she received on her own body – and blogs and vlogs about clean eating too.

Cassey has hundreds of workout videos on her YouTube channel and elsewhere all completely free. Whilst some will literally shred you to bits and make you cry (I am never doing that inner thigh video again), this beginners abs workouts is gentle but still a bit of a challenge – stick with it for quick results. I also find her cheery personality to be a good motivator, which is perfect if you also hate abs workouts!

6. Lumowell – 10 Minute Slim Sexy Arm Workout Without Weights

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Source: Youtube/Lumowell

No equipment. Low impact modifications. Ten minutes long?! DO IT NOW.

Lumowell’s workout videos are a little, err, quirky – follow the computerised figure for results! – but this video contains tips on good form to avoid injury and maximise effectiveness along with rolling motivational quotes. They also offer a range of FREE apps for Android and iPhone, including workouts and fitness plans. No excuses with these guys!

7.Denise Austin – Ultimate Fat Burn Workout

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Source: Youtube/BeFit

Yup, more Denise Austin. I guess her infernal cheeriness gets addictive.

Ultimate Fat Burn¬†is perhaps the most challenging on the list, but a good one when you’ve been working out for a couple weeks or so and want to pick up the pace a little. It’s also really fun, but the cues are a little off here and there, so watch closely; you might need to do this once or twice before you pick it up. Follow the lady in the light yellow top on the far left for low impact modifications of some of the slightly more challenging moves. The interval ladder style of this one makes for a good metabolism booster too.

8. Fitness Blender: Low Impact Lower Body and Core Tabata Workout

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Source: Youtube/Fitness Blender

Had to sneak another Fitness Blender one in here too. This is a very low impact but still effective workout for your lower body and core – it’s oddly relaxing and again the lack of jumping makes it gentle on your knees. Don’t worry about the low calorie burn on this one. You will definitely feel the burn to the point of being sore afterwards and hey, it’s exercise – your body will be thanking you! Whilst exercise is great for weight loss, it’s only about 20% of the full picture. The other 80% is about eating the right foods. You don’t always have to work out with the aim of burning as many calories as possible – remember, exercise also improves your strength and endurance, is great for your mood and sleep and benefits your health overall!

You should always talk to your doctor before starting to exercise, especially if you have health problems or are on any medication that may affect your ability to carry out certain routines. I reiterate again that I am very far from a professional on these matters and you should take everything I say on this blog as friendly advice based on my own experience and research. Your mileage may vary – experiment, read and learn to figure out what works best for you.

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Treats.

I have a sore throat and am munching blueberries like there’s no tomorrow. I forgot how yummy they were. Fried chicken and Sainsburys muffins literally wreck your tastebuds. And your waistline. And your body. And your LIFE. But damn they sure are good. Why can’t they also be nutritious?!

So as the sore throat part might imply, for the past couple of days I have been a big old sack of lurgy. Literally a sack until early this afternoon, all sacked out on the sofa like a big old saggy sack watching David Bowie concerts on YouTube (God rest his soul). I don’t like taking time off work, it makes me feel bad. And what with being a student in one of the world’s most expensive cities, I don’t particularly like missing out on dem coins either (yes I did just say dem coins and I won’t apologise). The latter is a pain in the arse but not the end of the world; the former is also a pain in the arse but something I am working on changing. I’ll do a post about guilt at some point.

But today’s post is more about how when I’m sick, I tend to think I can do whatever the fuck I want. And by do, I mean eat. Starve a fever, feed a cold, has always been my mum’s motto, and it’s one I’ve taken to heart big time. That’s where one of my biggest problems with sticking to a healthy lifestyle long-term comes in: the excuses. I am a master of making excuses for myself. “Well, I’ve quit smoking, I’m not drinking for at least the next 24 days… guess another square of chocolate is okay… when I’m well enough I can HIIT it off… and besides, gotta have some kind of a treat!”

I used food to death when I first quit smoking. I know that’s quite common, largely because your sense of taste starts coming back and food just feels so good that you can’t stop putting it in your mouth. I was probably quite capable of eating a whole cow those first few weeks. I took the attitude that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for eating a huge portion of spaghetti for dinner and then two cupcakes for pudding; I didn’t really seem to be gaining weight. Plus, my lung capacity was increasing, meaning I could exercise for longer (as an aside – quitting smoking makes exercise so much more tolerable, please do it for that reason alone!) and again… can’t smoke, so gotta have a treat!

There it is again: a treat. Sure, a cupcake is a treat. One cupcake, maybe once a week. Two nightly – that is not a treat. Quitting smoking or not.That is not good. I know that when I eat bad, I get depressed. I know that I feel worse physically.

A couple glasses of wine on Friday? Nice, that’s a treat. A couple of glasses on Tuesday, a bottle on Friday and then a night out involving spirits on a Saturday… each fun on occasion, in isolation. But in 2016, most of my weeks looked like this. “I’m a student!” I would say. “Only young once… can’t do this shit when I’m a real adult with a job. Besides, I work hard… gotta have a treat!”

One of my many unhealthy talents is excuses. I’m a student. I work hard. I’ve had a bad day. I did a Fitness Blender 1,000 calorie workout on Tuesday. So abusing my body and mind is totally fine. Gotta have a treat…

My dictionary defines a treat as “An event or item out of the ordinary that gives great pleasure.” Yes, drinking booze and eating crap does give me great pleasure. But it’s increasingly not out of the ordinary. There was a time in my life when these things really were treats. And my life was better. I was healthier, mentally and physically.

A little while ago, I started referring to myself as a hedonist. I think this was my pretentious way of applying the principle of ‘YOLO’. And also excusing the fact that I was indulging in stuff that felt good because I didn’t feel good a lot of the time and I wasn’t ready to start working for healthy, lasting happiness, rather than spending time looking forward to doing things that created short sharp bursts of pleasure… short lived rather than constant. I came across this great quote the other day – I can’t remember where but please leave a comment if you know who I can credit this to – “bad habits are easy to develop but hard to live with; good habits are hard to develop but easy to live with.” That rang so true.

Do I want to stop treating myself? Absolutely not; I’m determined to enjoy my life. But you really can have too much of a good thing. That’s when it gets bad. So, it is my goal to work at keeping unhealthy treats few and far between; to be enjoyed IN MODERATION and in a way that has no adverse effects on my life.

But healthy treats? Why not every day?

I’m trying to change my mindset as to what a treat that can be enjoyed regularly is. So, here is a list of five healthy treats. Feel free to nab them:

  1. Grooming.¬†Putting on a facepack, a hair treatment and doing a good old DIY mani-pedi of an evening is a treat I’ve been indulging in often lately. It’s relaxing and makes me feel better, no matter what mood I’m in. I’ve decided to set aside an evening for this at least once a week this year – regardless of how busy I am. In fact, especially if I’m busy.
  2. An overpriced smoothie. Sadly not¬†a frequent one if you’re a poor student like me, but sometimes swinging by itsu or equivalent and spending five quid on a healthy smoothie I’ll devour in as many minutes is a nice little feel-good boost. They’re yummy, make me feel all bright eyed and bushy tailed and happy that I’ve done something good for my body. One little thing at a time. And if I can spend five quid on a glass of wine, I can spend the same on this.
  3. BAKING!¬†As long as you don’t munch down all of your creations after the fact (note to self after all discussed above), baking is one of life’s simple pleasures. I keep meaning to take a batch of my M&M cupcakes to the ill-tempered neighbours downstairs. Might get on this one soon.
  4. A YouTube session.¬†This one is particularly good when feeling really bored or a bit low. Sit down for an hour or two and just binge on YouTube vids – I recommend Animal Planet’s Too Cute! selection after a particularly rough day. This is also a good distraction if you’re trying to quit a bad habit like smoking or frequent drinking – how can you still want that vodka and coke when you’re distracted by videos of tiny mewing kittens befriending a big snuggly dog?! Oah teh cutez.
  5. Create something for the pure fucking fun of it.¬†Writing is often such a chore for me, because I have things I am seriously working on for serious and if I don’t treat it like work and take it seriously for serious then how do I expect to seriously get anywhere? But sometimes, it’s nice to just write something that I want to… a silly little yarn or a poem or something purely for myself. And when I do, it’s a real treat. Or I do something I don’t take seriously, like one of my video collages or some doodling. It’s a nice distraction… and stops you resenting the serious stuff.

So much better than cupcakes.

Also, I’ve raised ¬£55.00 for Cancer Research so far for the Dryathlon. Not bad! Love to everyone who’s sponsored me.

I’m going to have a Strepsil now and think about a healthy dinner. Eating crap is not going to make my cold go away any quicker. I’ve typed it, now I have to stick to it. Which is what this blog is all about.