Gone are the days of mega-gym proliferation – those 100,000-square-foot, all-amenities-included facilities that used to pop up on what seemed like every street corner in America. The Great Recession combined with the ever-developing Internet has made low-cost and free fitness solutions the thing of the future. Enterprising fitness professionals have taken their expertise online, offering tutorials, resources, and full-length workouts for a fraction of the cost of a standard gym membership.
Finding these services isn’t difficult – just open up YouTube, or perform a quick Google search and you’re immediately inundated by them. Sorting through the glut and finding the best free and inexpensive online resources for workout videos, however, is a little more challenging. But whether you’re searching for a free option or an affordable subscription service, you will find that there are numerous excellent options.
While there are a lot of excellent free fitness resources available online, paid resources frequently offer greater variety and more features, such as longer videos, nutritional assistance, and mobile apps for a more well-rounded online experience.
Many paid subscriptions look similar on the surface, offering a variety of programs at reasonable prices. The difficult part is knowing exactly which service is best for you – and usually the decision comes down to the details.
For instance, DailyBurn offers a high-quality nutrition component that most other programs don’t, while The Gym Box offers elliptical machine and treadmill workouts, ideal for anyone who has that equipment at home. APOGEE Life showcases weight room workouts, and CRUNCH Live offers the same cutting-edge classes that you can find at its national locations. Make your decision by weighing the price against your personal needs and interests.
1. DailyBurn, Up to $25 Per Month
DailyBurn offers a slick interface that incorporates workout programs such as yoga, dance, kettlebells, and body-weight training, as well as a nutritional database that helps users get a good handle on their diets. Workouts range from 15 to 60 minutes and are taught by a variety of trainers who specialize in different styles.
Based on your height and weight, DailyBurn provides you with a general nutrition plan to help you meet your goals. Subscription prices vary, but even at the high-end of $25 per month, it costs less than most gyms. Plus, anyone can take advantage of the 30-day free trial. One downside to the DailyBurn program is that it is a streaming service, so if you don’t have a reliable Internet connection, you won’t be able to use the videos.
- Best For: The fitness enthusiast who wants a wide variety of workouts, as well as a solid nutritional plan
- Price: Up to $25 per month
2. Wello, Pricing Varies
Wello is a truly different online workout experience. Unlike most companies that allow you to download or stream prerecorded videos, Wello sets you up with a trainer who meets your preferences based on certification type (such as kickboxing, yoga, or prenatal fitness) day and time availability, and customer rating.
You meet this trainer online for a live private workout or a group exercise class. You can then ask questions, get feedback, and schedule subsequent classes, which you can take wherever you want, at times that are convenient for you. A great benefit of these sessions is that they are interactive – you see the instructor, and the instructor sees you.
Pricing varies greatly based on the instructor and length of the class, but you can expect to pay about $14 for group classes and $29 for one-on-one sessions. While this may seem like a lot, it’s a fraction of the cost of most personal training sessions – which are usually between $50 and $100 for one hour. I took a stretching class a while back, and while it definitely took a little getting used to, I enjoyed the experience and thought the instruction was excellent.
- Best For: The person who needs one-on-one motivation, accountability, and feedback, but who doesn’t want to shell out for a trainer at a gym
- Price: Varies
3. Yoga Download, Pricing Varies
For the yogis out there, Yoga Download offers flexible and affordable full-length yoga videos ranging from 15 to 60 minutes long. Perfect for the athlete, the pregnant mom, or the power yoga enthusiast, a variety of styles and levels are available, and tutorials are even offered for newbies.
Sign up for a monthly subscription (from $7.50 to $18), or purchase classes a la carte for $1 to $8 each, depending on whether you choose to stream or download them. Monthly subscription prices vary based on how many videos you download each month. For heavy users, the best deal is the annual subscription which offers unlimited classes for $90 per year, the equivalent of $7.50 per month.
Yoga Download offers free classes as well, but most are only 15 to 25 minutes long, so if you want something longer, it makes sense to ante up for the subscription or single-class download fee. Also, be aware that many of its classes are offered as either audio or video downloads. The audio downloads can be less expensive, so if you’re comfortable following an instructor’s verbal direction and are familiar with yoga poses, you could follow along on your MP3 player. Just don’t accidentally hit the audio download button if you want the video – you don’t want to pay money for something you won’t use.
A great benefit of Yoga Download is that, as the name implies, you can actually download the videos. They do give you the option to stream, but if you travel a lot or don’t always have a reliable Internet connection, the option to download and play videos from your device is a nice feature.
- Best For: The on-the-go yogi, or anyone who wants to be able to download videos for both online and offline use.
- Price: Varies
4. APOGEE Life, Pricing Varies
With APOGEE Life you create an account and then add a variety of online fitness classes to it for a nominal fee – usually between $8 and $15 per video. Once a video has been added to your account, you can access it from any device, anywhere, any time you want.
Think of it as the updated version of the home fitness video library – you used to purchase VHS cassettes or DVDs which were on-hand whenever you needed them. With APOGEE life, you’re purchasing videos, but instead of storing them at home, you’re storing them in the cloud. They’re yours to use and access forever.
Class types vary, but there’s something for everyone – Pilates, barre workouts, children’s fitness, machine workouts, park exercise routines, plyometrics, and more. Most classes are at least 20 minutes long and range up to a full hour. Even though you technically own the videos you purchase and can access them from any device, it’s important to remember that they’re stored in the cloud. If you don’t have a good Internet connection, you won’t be able to use them.
- Best For: The individual who wants a wide range of workout video options, including nontraditional videos covering weight machine workouts and park workouts
- Price: Varies
5. The Gym Box, $10 Per Month
The Gym Box offers thousands of online workouts, with new options added each week, for a mere $10 per month after a 15-day free trial. You can stream videos on practically any device, and if you use a Roku or have an Internet-enabled TV, the app is already preloaded onto it.
In addition to popular classes such as kickboxing, yoga, Pilates, and step, The Gym Box also offers cycling and treadmill classes, perfect for those with a home gym. Classes are all full-length videos of at least 10 minutes, some lasting well over an hour. Like many other online fitness subscriptions, The Gym Box is only available streaming through the Internet, so you do need a high-quality connection to enjoy the workouts.
- Best For: The individual who wants flexibility in workout video options, including classes for cardio machines such as treadmills and ellipticals
- Price: $10 per month
6. Crunch Live
Crunch is the first national gym to release an online fitness workout membership, which, considering the trend-setting, cutting-edge classes Crunch is known for providing, is a boon to exercise-hungry folks without a location near them. After a free one-week Crunch Live trial you pay $9.99 per month for access to online videos taught by real Crunch instructors – and with real Crunch members following along in the background.
Original workouts to choose from include the following:
- Gospel House Aerobics: Aerobic exercise set to gospel music.
- Stiletto Strength: A core class in which participants actually wear heels.
- DIESEL: High intensity strength training.
- Fat Burning Pilates: Cardio training combined with Pilates.
- Hot Seat: Combined dance and sculpting workout.
Crunch Live is also a streaming service, so you do have to be connected to the Internet and logged in to take advantage of the programs.
- Best For: The individual who wants cutting-edge workout programs offered at a high-end national chain, but who can’t afford a Crunch gym membership
- Price: $9.99 per month
Free fitness tutorials and instruction abound on the Internet, but you have to know where to look. YouTube is an excellent resource for videos that you can stream to your computer, tablet, or cell phone, but it’s not the only option available.
Generally speaking, free videos tend to be shorter than paid videos, as YouTube and other streaming sources don’t have the bandwidth for longer options. However, you can still get a great workout with a short video, and you can always piece a few of them together to create a full-length routine. Just remember, unlike videos that you can download to your computer, you do have to have access to the Internet to play any streaming options.
7. Lionsgate BeFiT
Free, professionally produced, full-length fitness videos are available on the Lionsgate BeFiT YouTube channel. Celebrity trainers such as Jillian Michaels and Denise Austin are just a couple of the big fitness names featured on this site. Videos are always free and high-quality, and the BeFiT GO series is even optimized for your mobile device.
You can find pretty much any type of workout you’re looking for here – cardio, abs, yoga, strength training, and dance are all available. Most videos are 20 minutes or less, but there are a few options in the 25- to 45-minute range.
- Best For: The workout video aficionado, as this content is very similar to what you find on a traditional exercise DVD or video, down to the celebrity faces leading the routines
Cassey Ho of Blogilates is one of the most engaging YouTube fitness instructors around. Not only does she have almost 900,000 YouTube subscribers, but her workouts are tough, energetic, and fun – and if your muscles don’t burn while doing one of her leg routines, you’re a fitter person than I am.
While many of Ho’s workouts incorporate Pilates, you can find a range of strengthening and toning workouts as well. Length of videos vary, but they are typically between 5 and 15 minutes.
- Best For: The YouTube fanatic who loves Pilates, but wants a little body-weight training added in
9. Tone It Up
The ladies of Tone It Up have garnered more than 280,000 YouTube subscriptions because of their enviable bodies and easy-to-follow videos. While their free options are typically two- to three-minute clips covering specific exercises, they make for a good intro before you decide to ante up for their DVD or nutritional programs.
To get a full workout, simply piece together several videos, or use the tutorials provided to pick out exercises to develop your own workout. It may seem like a hassle, but if half the battle to achieving physical fitness is knowing what to do and how to do it, high-quality tutorials are really all you need to get going on the path to success.
- Best For: Those who want a good mix of yoga, cardio, and strength training
10. Fitness Blender
Fitness Blender is an amazing online resource for full-length videos put together by top trainers. Whether you want a low-impact cardio workout, a core fitness routine, or high-intensity interval training, Fitness Blender has something for everyone. Most individual workouts are free, lasting between 10 and 40 minutes, but if you want to follow a four- or eight-week program, downloadable systems are available for between $4 and $8.
- Best For: The fitness enthusiast who wants to try a little bit of everything without having to piece together separate videos for a full-length workout
11. Turbulence Training
For the fitness buff looking for hardcore home workouts, Turbulence Training on YouTube is the real deal. Top-tier trainers offer tips and clear instructions on how to perform tough moves in a safe and effective manner.
Whether you want to use suspension trainers, sandbags, or you want to perform a high-intensity strength training routine without equipment, they’ve got something for you. Most videos range from 4 to 10 minutes, so use the tutorials to develop your own workouts or piece a few together to create a full-length routine.
- Best For: Anyone who wants a serious strength-training routine that incorporates a wide variety of equipment
12. Zuzka Light
Zuzana Light co-founded BodyRockTV before breaking off to host her own YouTube channel and website Zuzka Light, which is dedicated to tough, original workouts for strengthening and toning. Short video clips and tutorials are available for free on her YouTube channel, some lasting up to 30 minutes, while longer videos are available through her ZGYM for a fee.
While ZGYM does offer full programs with workout schedules and progressions to members, there’s no reason to shell out the $9.99 monthly fee, at least at first. The Zuzka Light YouTube channel offers more than enough content to get a killer workout, so you may as well try the free stuff for a couple of months before upgrading to the paid program.
- Best For: The person looking for interesting body-weight training exercises along with a nice mix of nutrition videos
13. Jessica Smith
Jessica Smith is a certified trainer and top online fitness influencer who has starred in several best-selling fitness DVDs. Through her website and YouTube channel she offers free full-length videos covering everything from barre workouts to total body training.
Videos range from 5 to 60 minutes, with solid instruction and a super-cute French bulldog sidekick. Simply log onto her site and stream the videos whenever you want, wherever you are. New videos are added every Saturday at 12 noon, Eastern Standard Time. While Jessica’s videos are a little more limited than other long-time YouTubers, her engaging personality and longer content are worth a try.
- Best For: Someone who wants a traditional fitness video combined with an instructor who feels like a best friend
There are thousands of fitness enthusiasts and experts trying to make their names in the online exercise industry. Luckily, many of these individuals and companies have a solid background in health and fitness, along with all the high-level certifications and qualifications you’d want.
That said, there are those who don’t. Do your homework before subscribing to any online fitness program to ensure that the trainer you’re following is qualified to lead you on your journey to better health.
Have you tried an online fitness class or program that you love?