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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“I’m sorry you feel that way”: How not to apologise

The apology is something that seems to baffle us as human beings. Some of us do it too much, for example, the classic ‘I-said-sorry-when-she-stepped-on-my-foot.’ Some of us avoid it because it forces us to admit we did something wrong and we find that very uncomfortable. Some of us do it out of the corner of our mouths while looking at our shoes. Apologies are difficult to get right, and they take practice. However, there is one way definitely NOT to do it – EVER. By saying one of the most condescending, invalidating, borderline gaslighting phrases in the English language:

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

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Source: BBC/giphy.com

Ladies, gentleman and all in between: this is not a fucking apology.

“I’m sorry you feel that way” translates, loosely, to “I don’t think you have a reason to be upset but here is a half assed attempt to like acknowledge your feelings or some shit. I don’t think what you feel is relevant to what I supposedly did and I don’t have time to sit down and talk through this with you so that I might empathise with your viewpoint.”

Fair enough, sometimes we might think people’s anger or hurt is irrational. We might not think what we did was that bad, especially if it was an accident, or that we had no way of knowing that our behaviour might hurt someone. And we are, of course, entitled to think that. But if we have behaved in a way that HAS¬†hurt someone close to us – which sometimes we ALL do – we need to acknowledge that fact, listen and try to work something out so that the hurt doesn’t happen again. Of course, this takes two willing people who can discuss something rationally to work out – and it isn’t always possible – but even if you think the person you have upset or offended must be smoking crack to feel that way, never, ever tell them that you’re simply sorry they feel that way. It is invalidating and will cause more hurt.

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Source: Paramount Pictures/giphy.com

(As an aside, if you really do suspect someone you know is on crack, you might also want to deal with that).

Here’s an example of why “I’m sorry you feel that way” is so shitty when you have, unintentionally or otherwise, caused somebody harm:

Bill and Ben were once good friends. One day Bill, feeling that he wasn’t progressing in his office job, fancied a career change. So he decided to become an axe murderer. So he bought an axe and decided Ben should be his first victim. After all, Ben’s a pretty understanding guy and tends to support everything he does.

So, Bill shows up at Ben’s place with crazed axe murderer eyes. Ben feels a bit hurt when Bill charges at him all ‘RARGH I’MMA AXE YOU’ and the following conversation ensues:

Ben: Dude why are you murdering me I had so much to live fooor

Bill: I’m just trying something new why can’t you just be happy for me

Ben: I am but I am also feeling hurt by your behaviour I feel like you didn’t consider how I might feel about you murdering me and that hurts and I wish you would have talked to me first

Bill: I’m sorry you feel that way!

Okay. So here we can see that Ben is laying dying and is quite pissed off that Bill went ahead and acted without thinking about the impact his actions might have on Ben. Instead of exploring Ben’s feelings about how his thoughtless behaviour (which harmed him whilst he benefited himself, whether or not this was Bill’s intention) has affected Ben, Bill shrugs it off with ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ to smooth over the situation without taking any responsibility for Ben’s feelings. Therefore, the implication is that Ben is feeling bad of his own accord, ignoring two golden rules: every action has a reaction and everything you do affects other people.

But, I mean, Bill apologised, right? Ben will probably be cool. Except, he’s kind of dead…

So, whilst Ben was still alive, Bill’s behaviour made Ben feel as though Bill cares more about what Bill himself wants than how the way he’s gone out to get it has hurt him. Bill may not have intended this, and sometimes we all hurt people without meaning to – Bill is only human. It’s what he does next that matters.

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Source: Paramount Pictures/eonline.com

Picture the situation differently. Bill is laying into Ben with his newly purchased axe:

Ben: I had so much to live for I feel sad that you didn’t consider how you killing me might affect me

Bill: Oah, shit man I had no idea. I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings with my thoughtless behaviour. Let me help you up and lets go talk.

So. The outcome here is that Bill and Ben talked and they were able to communicate openly, make amends and move pat it. And Ben didn’t die. Huzzah.

Bill wasn’t considering how Ben might feel ¬†if he murdered him. He wasn’t considering that he was so excited about his new axe murdering career that Ben’s needs (i.e. safety) fell by the wayside. Bill is not merely sorry Ben¬†feels that way: he’s sorry his behaviour hurt his friend and he takes responsibility for this.

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Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men: Creepyass British puppets. Source: BBC

So… when is it okay to say “I’m sorry you feel that way?”

It’s not.

“But what if I am genuinely not the cause of the feeling?”

Well, you don’t need to be sorry, do you?

Here’s a slightly different situation involving Bill and Ben:

Bill: Dude I think I’m in love with you
Ben: Don’t feel the same way soz
Bill: K I hate you now bye

Should Ben be sorry Bill feels that way? No! He doesn’t need to be sorry because in this situation, Ben has not done anything to cause Bill’s feelings. He is not responsible for how Bill feels. You can’t make someone fall in love with you. People just do because people are odd and we are complicated and we don’t always feel the same way about each other, and that’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the way things are.

Now let’s consider that phrase again: ‘I am not responsible for how you feel.’

Sigh. That is a phrase that gets misused far, far too much in the wrong context. It does NOT apply when it’s related to you evading responsibility for your shitty behaviour.

Let us consider Bill killing Ben with an axe again:

Ben: Bill you are such a dick for killing me with this axe I am so annoyed with you right now
Bill: Nvm I’m not responsible for how you feel.

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Source: HBO/gifsoup.com

Um, Bill? You’re killing the guy with an axe. That’s all on you, man. So you’re not responsible for how he’s going to feel in his dying moments? You’re not responsible for how his family and friends are going to feel that Ben has died in an axe murder perpetrated by his bestie? You’re not responsible for the fear that will create in your local community if there’s an axe murder on the loose?

The point is, everything we do has an effect on other people. Sometimes we act like douchebags – I do, you do, your grandma does. We’re all human, and it’s often understandable. But repair it by learning to give a genuine, sincere, heartfelt apology. Most of us never mean to hurt people, but we do, even if at the time we are totally oblivious to it. Even if it was never our intention. Don’t brush off someone you care about. Talk to them and work it out.

Don’t be sorry someone feels that way. They are already taking care of feeling sorry that they feel that way. If the person is of sound mind and is feeling hurt by your behaviour, acknowledge what they are feeling and apologise for being the cause of the feeling – even if you think it wouldn’t upset you personally or you think they’re making a fuss over nothing. It’s the classic ‘you’re too sensitive.’ ‘You’re overreacting.’

None of us are perfect. We all have thoughtless, mean and downright stupid sides. Respect for people’s feelings and open, honest communication will keep your relationships strong.