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10 Ways to Work Out Without Going Anywhere

By Courtney Rubin | April 9, 2020 | Rally Health

There’s only one rule of exercise in tough times like these: Some is always better than none. Can’t do your full workout, or even a proper one? Moving for just five minutes, three times a day, can have benefits, says Michele Olson, PhD, FACSM, CSCS, a professor of sport science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Ala., and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. “You don’t need a lot of time to develop your cardio fitness or even maintain it,” she says.

Got more than five minutes to spare? Here’s more great news: There are tons of at-home workout options available right now — from newer offerings that have sprung up in response to COVID-19 gym closures, to digital mainstays you can try anytime. (Rally Health, for one, is offering free fitness classes to all on this website; click here to try one.) If you already belong to a gym or spin studio, you may also want to check and see if they’re offering digital options, or if they're renting equipment. Before you splash out on an exercise bike, consider borrowing one from a studio near you, a win/win for both you and a small business that may be struggling in the COVID-19 era.

Of course, you don't necessarily need gear to work out. Many of the online classes and workouts we’ve listed below don’t require equipment. For the ones that do, everyday items can make handy stand-ins. In place of dumbbells, for example, soup cans or water bottles can work. For a makeshift kettlebell, Olson suggests placing a couple of bottles of water in a small plastic bag and tying it up. 

Remember: It's always best to connect with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Ready to get going? Find the home workout for you, below.

Free options on social media

For the boxing enthusiast 
Where: Instagram
Equipment needed: None

Boxing is a killer workout because of the sheer number of muscles it uses — and strengthens — at once. A correctly thrown punch doesn’t just come from your arms and shoulders; it uses your legs, hips, glutes, core, obliques, back, shoulders, chest and arms, says Olson. Rumble, a boxing gym chain with locations in select cities nationwide, is offering free half-hour boxing-inspired workouts (think: hooks, jabs, jumping jacks) during the COVID-19 era on their Instagram (times vary, so check their handle). The trainers are wacky and playful, but the sweat is straight-up serious.

Fun classes from a husband-and-wife team
Fitness Blender 
Where: YouTube
Equipment: Varies; option for none

Daniel and Kelli Segars are the qualified personal trainers behind Fitness Blender, a Youtube fitness channel that has more than five million subscribers. The free workouts range from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to low impact cardio to strength workouts to foam rolling — there’s something for every level (and mood). Bonus: All of the Segarses’ classes were designed to be done in limited space at home, even before any of us were facing lockdown. 

Train with a big chain’s pros
Planet Fitness
Where: Facebook
Equipment needed: None

You don’t need to belong to Planet Fitness to join their 20-minute “Home Work-Ins,” sweat sessions that feature a mix of body weight strength exercises and HIIT. With modifications for every move, these workouts are especially beginner-friendly, but experienced exercisers can still get their hearts pumping. Available while Planet Fitness gyms are closed, these classes go live at 7 pm EST every weekday on the chain’s Facebook page. Can’t make it? No worries. Each video is archived, so you can click and access anytime.

Get your groove on 
Debbie Allen Dance Academy
Where: Instagram
Equipment needed: None

Want to learn dance from a legend? On Wednesdays at 1pm PST, celebrity choreographer, dancer, and actor Debbie Allen (yes, that Debbie Allen) teaches free classes on Instagram Live (her first session clocked more than 110,000 views). On other days, fellow choreographers from her nonprofit Debbie Allen Dance Academy (such as tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith) host sessions, too. Keep an eye on Allen’s Instagram page for schedules and class info. So far, Allen’s classes have been easy and fun. Perfect for beginners.

Low-cost alternatives

Dance with a former Rockette
Where: amandakloots.com
Equipment needed: None for dance; others require a jump rope and/or light weights.
Cost: $9.99 per month; free one-week trial

Former Broadway dancer and Radio City Rockette Amanda Kloots consistently sells out dance cardio classes in New York and Los Angeles, thanks to her infectious energy and of-the-moment playlists. If you like dance, there is no class more fun— and full of joy — than hers. Beginners will need patience (the sequences grow progressively more complicated) and extra breaks. There is a free 10-minute dance sample here, and a free 20-minute jump rope workout saved in her Instagram highlights.

HIIT and strength training 
Fhitting Room  
Where: fhittingroom.com 
Equipment: varies; options for none
Cost: $9.99 per month; one-month free trial

None other than Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, has hit the small-group classes at the Fhitting Room in New York City. The workouts combine cardio, HIIT, and strength training and are challenging — there’s a reason some of the trainers look as if they’re made up of 100 percent muscle — but can be modified to suit people of all fitness levels, including beginners. To avoid having to pause your workout repeatedly, exercise newbies may want to watch some of their web-based tutorials on proper form first. (As with any new activity, if you’re trying HIIT for the first time and experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness, stop what you’re doing right away.)  

For a personalized experience 
Where: Your phone, watch, or tablet (it’s iOS and Android compatible)
Cost: $15 per month or $99 per year; one-week free trial
Equipment required: Varies; option for none

This audio-only, all-kinds-of-exercise app offers everything under the sun, from yoga and Pilates to HIIT and walking. It also recommends exercises based on your fitness goals. Tell the app what you want to do (run faster, get stronger), along with details of what, if any, equipment you have, and it will suggest a workout, which you can then filter by intensity, time, music genre, or trainer. If you’ve ever wanted to start running, this is the app for you – the upbeat music and motivating messages in Aaptiv’s 20- to 30-minute walk/jog classes will carry you through. Freebie alert: Right now Aaptiv is posting at least one live workout every day on Instagram, no equipment (or app download) required. To join, head to their account at the appointed time and tap the profile pic. Workouts stay up in Aaptiv’s Insta stories for 24 hours.  

Work your core 
Where: pilatesology.com
Equipment: Varies; options for none 
Cost: $19 per month; 10-day free trial

Because all you need is a mat or a towel, Pilates has been an at-home workout staple since the days of VHS tapes. Pilatesology lets you stream hundreds of classes for all levels, featuring celeb trainers like Mari Winsor (who has trained Emma Stone and Miley Cyrus), Alycea Ungaro (Madonna, Claire Danes), and Chris Robinson (who counts Oprah as a client). Pilates focuses on working the core, the muscles in your back and abdomen that help with posture. Pilatesology offers a helpful self-assessment tool you can use to gauge your ability level, plus classes involving core work that may help correct posture or prevent sciatica pain.

Trendy and full of options
Where: Your phone or tablet (iOS and Android compatible)
Equipment needed: varies; options for none
Cost: $12.99 per month; 90-day free trial

You’ve probably heard about Peloton’s pricey treadmills ($3,995) and indoor bikes ($2,245) with built-in screens to stream classes; fans include Sofia Vergara, Diddy, and Hugh Jackman. But Peloton also offers an app, at a much more accessible price point, that serves up a dizzying array of workouts you can do at home, including yoga and strength training routines that can be completed with or without weights. Sessions range from five minutes to an hour. Perhaps surprisingly for a company known for catering to fitness junkies (the Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt is a user), the classes are very beginner-friendly: They’re filmed from a variety of angles, and unlike in an in-person class, you have a great view of the instructor at all times.

This information is being made available as a free resource to the public. Nothing contained herein is intended or should be construed as an endorsement of any gyms or fitness trainers listed is this article. None of the gyms or fitness trainers mentioned have solicited Rally Health to be included in this article, and Rally Health receives no compensation in exchange for the same.

Courtney Rubin
Rally Health