By Lindsay Cohn
You know how important regular exercise is for accomplishing your fitness goals, sleeping better, boosting energy, and more—and now’s the time of year when we swear we’re going to work out all. the. time. But sometimes getting to the gym, especially in the winter, feels like a massive hurdle. Or, if you’re on the road a lot, exercise can fall to the wayside.
Of course, there’s no shortage of streaming exercise programs. But how can you choose the best one? We asked fitness pros to recommend their faves, and to share their tips for the best ways to get your sweat on at home.
AT-HOME WORKOUT HOW-TOS
When shopping for a streaming program, make sure to choose one with a proper warm-up, says Thumbtack fitness trainer Kaitlyn Noble. “The video should gently bring your heart rate up to warm your muscles before doing anything intense or high impact, like a burpee or hop squat,” she advised.
Another thing to look for—especially if you’re new to a certain type of workout—are videos that offer beginner alternative, so you can master the basics before moving on to more difficult moves or sequences, Noble adds.
No matter what activity you choose, check in with yourself before you begin, advises physical therapist David Gershkovich, clinical director at Riser Physical Medicine in New York City. “How does your body feel? Are you hungry? Do you feel dizzy? Make certain you feel up to exercising,” he says.
When it’s time to get moving, start slowly. “Don’t assume you need to go at the same speed as the instructor for it to be effective,” Noble says. “If you’re new, try the first few–or all–of the reps at a slow pace. You can even pause videos if transitions are moving too quickly.”
The same is true for weight selection in workouts that use weights: Start small, or even without them. If you choose weights that are too heavy, your form may suffer and you’re more likely to get hurt. “Generally, the resistance should be challenging, but not overly stressful,” Gershkovich says.
Finally, pay attention to how your body feels the day after. If you you can barely walk the next day, this may be a sign that you started off too advanced or pushed yourself too hard, according to Noble. On the other hand, if you feel light soreness, go for it.
WORKOUTS WE LOVE
Whether you’re feeling hatha, vinyasa, kundalini or ashtanga, you’ll find it with this service, which offers members 4,000 yoga and meditation videos, as well as tutorials and community events. Plus, the videos are filmed at YogaGlo’s studio in Santa Monica for that in-studio feeling. (Bonus: If you’re signed up for the service and find yourself in the area, pop in for a free class IRL.)
This service from the popular fitness chain blends yoga, pilates and strength training into an action-packed, body-shaping workout. A monthly streaming membership gives you 24/7 access to more than 300 exclusive online videos ranging from 10 minutes to an hour, plus instructor-guided tutorials, nutritional advice and seasonal recipes.
Cost: Free for 15 days, then $29/month
Fitness artist and A-list trainer Nicole Winhoffer’s dance-cardio class has become a cult fave (#NWChurch). With the newly launched subscription you can dance ’til you drop at your convenience. The service releases a new video every Sunday that stays up for two weeks, meaning you always have access to two different workouts, but they’re always changing so you won’t get bored.
Love pilates? A monthly membership here gives you access to 2,700 videos, from more than 100 highly skilled instructors. Sort by duration (under 10 to more than 90 minutes), difficulty level and apparatus (mat, reformer or none at all).
Cost: Free for 15 days, then $18/month
You may recognize this program’s founder, Mary Helen Bowers, if you’re one of the former New York City Ballet dancer’s 580k Instagram followers. A monthly online membership includes unlimited access to site’s streaming library and two new workouts per month incorporating mat work, barre exercises and “ballet cardio,” including the basics up to advanced and even pre- and postnatal.
Best known as Gwyneth Paltrow’s fitness guru, Anderson offers streaming for those who can’t make it to one of her state-of-the-art NYC or LA studios. With an online subscription, you can tune in to new weekly videos from Anderson’s beginner and master classes, filmed in real time in one of her studios, so you can feel like you’re toning up alongside her clients.
Kickboxing isn’t just an awesome full-body workout, it’s also great for releasing pent-up stress. Sobekick online lets you to kick butt and unleash some fiery with hundreds of high-energy live and on-demand recorded classes, ranging from “Bootcamp Boxing” to “Abs & Butt.”
Cost: Free for 14 days, then $29/month
Like cycling but can’t make it to 6AM spin class on the reg? The iOS app delivers “fitness at your fingertips” with more than 3,400 on-demand and up to 12 live daily classes streamed directly from Peloton’s NYC studio—and you can ride along from any stationary bike. Now, if you’re a hardcore enthusiast, you’re going to want to invest in the $1,995 Peloton, so you can compete against other riders in a real‑time and get in‑depth performance tracking.
Cost: Free for 14 days, then $5.99/week or $12.99/month for the iOS app, $39/month for the Peloton app