The Benefits of Online Workout Videos

If you have never tried online workout videos, you are missing out on one of the best ways to exercise and make a habit that sticks.

I’ve been using workout videos regularly since rediscovering them in 2010 (I loved my mom’s Jane Fonda tapes when I was a kid). Videos have played a pivotal part in transforming me from a sometimes exerciser into a daily exerciser. Exercise has become my coach, my therapist, my meditation, my friend, and my muse. I dedicate 2 days a week, religiously, to using online workout videos.

Here are the top 6 benefits of using online videos!

1. Online Videos are Incredibly Convenient

When it comes to finding time to work out, truly nothing is more convenient than working out from home with a video. But even if you travel frequently, online workout videos are incredibly accessible. With videos, traffic is never an issue. Neither is parking. Or weather. Or a crazy schedule – after all, the web gives you 24/7 access to online workouts – you can do them whenever you want. You only need a small space. And your shower is RIGHT there when you finish!

So if you have the will, there is a way. Once you stop letting external obstacles get in way of your workouts — because let’s face it, meetings, sick kids, and better offers will always find a way to derail even the best laid workout plans — you’ve laid the groundwork for developing a really strong, consistent, and rewarding exercise habit.

Once you stop letting external obstacles get in way of your workouts, you’ve laid the groundwork for developing a really strong, consistent, and rewarding exercise habit.

2. It’s Not All or Nothing – That Day’s Commitment is Up to You

With online workouts, you are not committed to a particular time or effort on any given day. Sometimes it’s great to work out for an hour and pour sweat, but some days not so much. When you depend on getting to a class, it’s all or nothing. You may have to psych yourself up to get there, and if you don’t make it, you end up with nothing in the way of activity that day. Nothing but guilt and beating yourself up.

With online videos, you have the ultimate flexibility in choosing what to do based on your energy level and your time frame. If you put on a 20-minute video because you don’t have the drive that day to move for an hour, that’s still a success. You’re going to feel so much better after 20 minutes, no matter what. And you may just feel good enough to watch another video, because endorphins are funny like that, once you get going. But it’s your call: no judgment, no slinking out of a class.

And you can have it both ways. When you feel like going to a class and seeing your awesome instructor in the flesh, do it! And when you don’t, a workout video is so easy to substitute. It’s still a win for the day.

3. Online Workouts Offer Tons of Variety when You Want to Mix It Up

The wonderful thing about the Internet is the sheer breadth of variety at your fingertips. Chris Anderson, former WIRED editor, calls this “the long tail.” Brick and mortar places like a physical gym offer a fixed inventory of classes because they have only finite resources like the amount of studio space, the people available to teach or attend a workout at a given time. The web has no such constraints – it allows for the creation of vast digital archives with very little extra overhead. Digital assets take very little space, and can be accessed whenever, even globally. Fitness video platforms offer on-demand access to a huge variety of pre-recorded workouts, whether from DVDs or live-taped classes, across space and time. Access to the long tail gives the consumer so much more choice.

The Internet gives you access to an incredible diversity of instructors. The best instructors may live far away from you physically and you would never cross paths in real life, but online, they’re right there in the room with you. You get unprecedented access to literally some of the finest, most sought after instructors in the world.

Two of my favorite growing trends are dance workouts and fusion programs.

  • Dance workouts have been growing like crazy in popularity. Have you tried one yet? Dance tends to feel more like fun than exercise, so it really lends itself perfectly to a home workout format for many people. Zumba may be the one you’ve seen in your gym, but there are many more dance workouts available online, everything from Bollywood workouts, to ballet-inspired videos, jazz, hip hop, you name it.
  • Fusion workouts are a really fun area to explore online. Fusion (or Hybrid) workouts pull together influences from multiple styles of fitness to create a unique blend. Fusion styles are incredibly engaging, mixing the best elements together from different genres, and they offer a great way to get your first exposure to other workout styles. Examples of fusion workouts include yoga & weights, barre & kickboxing, dance mixed with high intensity intervals, pilates combined with yoga, cardio circuits with mixed martial arts, just to name a few. The sky is truly the limit with these combinations. They are fresh and interesting.

4. Online Workouts offer Familiar Comfort Too

Variety is great for those times when you want to do something new, but if you’re like me, most of the time you want to do something familiar: take a class with one of your favorite instructors, revisit your favorite workouts. There’s comfort in a known entity, when you know just where the tough parts of the workout are, just where the fun parts are, just how much you’ve progressed since the first time you did it. For workouts with choreography, like dance videos, once you’ve gotten through the learning curve to get to know the routines, revisiting them is just pure fun. You can work on adding flair and technique once the basic muscle memory is in place.

I personally try not to do any single workout video more than twice a month, except if I’m learning choreography. That way I avoid plateaus, I never get sick of a video, and I get to revisit a lot of my favorites. If you’ve ever heard the term “muscle confusion” — the idea of continually shifting the muscle groups you target to keep your body constantly adapting and to give you a wide range of functional fitness — I like to say my muscles have been confused since 2010. That requires both variety and familiarity.

5. Online Workouts are Incredibly Cost Effective Compared to Gyms, Studios, and Trainers

Online workouts are truly the most cost effective workouts out there, short of exercising outside for free (running outside, walking, etc). Considering the quality and variety of the workouts you can get online, this is just practical, economic value.

There are several different membership models available for you to choose from online.

  • Netflix-style memberships: Unlimited streaming for a low monthly subscription fee (typically under $10/month, with the most expensive still under $20). Membership subsidizes the cost of creating and licensing the videos, so most sites in this category are completely ad-free. Examples of this include Gaiam and FitFusion.
  • Freemium services: In this model, you get access to some content for free – likely with ads, plus there are additional upsell features like premium content you can choose to pay for on a monthly basis. Grokker is an example.
  • Pay per video – rent or buy: Some sites let you pay per video, either to rent for short term access or to buy your own digital download copy. This is a great option if you really want to own your favorite DVD in digital form, or you want to try before you buy. Many individual instructors offer digital downloads on their personal websites.
  • Free with ads: In the completely free category, Youtube is king. You can get free access to all sorts of content, though it can take some digging to find the good stuff and you’ll have to watch ads as well as see them overlaid on videos. You may have heard the phrase, if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold. There’s always a tradeoff when it comes to free access, but sometimes that price is right.

Across the board, online workouts provide excellent value when compared to

  • studio classes – which can run $10-$75 per class
  • gyms – averaging $58/mo, not counting setup fees (per StatisticBrain)
  • one-on-one personal trainers – averaging $50/mo, but varying widely

Given the low price of online workouts, you may be able to afford both online workouts and workouts with a studio or trainer. Assuming you make use of a service you pay for, an investment in your health is always a sound investment.

An investment in your health is always a sound investment.

6. Online Workouts Give you Ultimate Privacy

Last but not least, privacy is an under-rated benefit of working out online.

  • You can wear whatever you want. Or not.
  • You can dance like no one’s watching because they’re not.
  • You don’t have to brush your hair, or your teeth.
  • Whatever jiggles, whatever wiggles, it doesn’t matter.

Your space is yours. There’s no guy in stinky gym clothes on the next bike. You don’t have to worry about bending over and feeling exposed in your yoga class, or wearing clothes that make you feel uncomfortable. There’s no body shaming or embarrassment in the privacy of your own space.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s workout online!

Valerie Lanard

Valerie Lanard

Valerie Lanard is a software engineer and fitness lover. Once upon a time, exercise was a chore she did to chase the elusive "skinny". Somewhere along the way, it morphed into a source of daily joy, motivation, and strength. Find her on a bike, on a hike, in a skort, or near a usb port. Chances are, she's wearing a gadget and a smile.

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