The tail end of January brings a few things most of us can count on each year: the coldest part of winter settling in, a favorite sweater on heavy rotation and often, waning progress on new years resolutions. I think it’s safe to say that resolutions people struggle with the most are those related to health and physical activity. It’s hard to work exercise into packed days and many times, the gym memberships we’re not using or the yoga punchcards gathering dust tend to make us feel even more anxious or shameful about our lack of progress. If you find yourself in this boat, I cannot recommend the work of Gretchen Rubin enough; knowing how to successfully form habits and embrace your own personality and preferences is key to any kind of lasting change. Her website is a wealth of information and if you need one title to start with, I’d steer you towards Better Than Before.
It took me such a long time to accept that I do NOT enjoy exercising inside, other than yoga or pilates classes and, on that note, if time for physical activity feels like more time engaging in chit-chat and pleasantries, I will often skip simply because my days with young kids feel so heavy on casual encounters already. I’ve learned that I appreciate exercise most when it allows me to be quiet and deliberate and, most importantly, can be worked in whenever I have pockets of time to spare. This insight has brought me a new attitude towards dedicating time each day to running, strength training, yoga and movement in general. I know there are so many benefits to trainers, memberships and classes but I feel more motivated to workout when I know it centers around my schedule and I won’t be throwing away money if I have a busy week (or month) and can’t make it to a class due to scheduling conflicts. Making this possible is the huge gift of apps and instagram!
Below are my favorite sources for workout content that are inspiring and, better yet, FREE!
Nike Training Club - I started using this app over a year and a half ago and really like it, especially when traveling or when I’m short on time. You can select workouts by time, equipment, target area or athlete workouts (Ellie Goulding, Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams, Chloe Kim to name just a few). The app is not overly noisy or busy and you won’t be bombarded with spam emails or excessive push notifications.
BONUS: The app tracks which exercises you’ve done and you can save ones you like to a “playlist” style feature.
Katy Bowman @nutritiousmovement - I’m a huge fan of functional movement and doing small things throughout the day. Katy Bowman is the master of this! Her “Exercise Advent” is a great place to start - she gives you a whole series of creative exercises that can be done anytime, anywhere…all with a rock!
BONUS: Katy is a wealth of information and you’ll likely find tips that you can integrate into playtime for kids, too. All while playing!
Kira Stokes @kirastokesfit - Checking in with Kira Stokes will definitely keep you inspired to move! She’s great about posting frequently on stories throughout the day and often shares snippets of her personal training sessions with Norah O’Donnell (who is up at 4:30am everyday so really, what is our excuse??) and Hannah Bronfman. You can follow the hashtag #smotd to see the Stoked Move of the Day. These moves are always effective and Kira is a stickler for form so you’ll know you’re getting very precise instructions. There’s an app/program coming soon but Kira Stokes offers so much free content you’ll definitely have plenty to choose from.
BONUS: If you like your intense exercise with a nice side of entertainment, watch for special guest appearances from Gary, Kira’s husband, who brings much appreciated Larry David style deadpan to her audience.
Julie Montagu @juliemontagu - Full disclosure, I first learned about Julie Montagu as a viewer of Ladies of London. Fascinated by her back story and her husband’s family estate, Mapperton, I occasionally visited Julie’s website, The Flexi Foodie. You can find her straightforward yoga videos on youtube or stream on Amazon. She also has two books that are worth checking out: Superfoods and Superfoods Superfast.
BONUS: Maybe the most inspiring thing about Julie is the content of her instagram stories - she’s constantly cycling all over London, teaching yoga, drinking green things, etc. And if she can swing it with 4 kids well, then…
Zehra aka The Fitnest @zallibhai - If you like to mix it up with cross fit style workouts, body weight moves and bursts of activity throughout the day. Zehra shares workouts both at the gym and in her home, most of which can be done with minimal equipment. She also offers very reasonably priced fitness challenges/programs and the 7 Day Jump Start is just that; straightforward and manageable even when you’re short on time.
BONUS: Every once in a while Zehra smiles into the screen and gently orders you to go exercise . Right now. Which is really effective because sometimes we all need a gentle reminder to put down our phones and make something happen.
Kait Hurley @kait.hurley - Founder of the Move and Meditate method, Kait now has an app that is $9.99/month with access to 2 week programs like “Restore + Renew” and “Present Pace” for endurance. If you want to ease in or try one of her workouts, I highly recommend “The Ass Class + Pranayama with Kait Hurley and Alison Wu” - you can find it on youtube. It runs about 36 minutes including the meditation time at the end and it is a killer!
BONUS: Even the briefest scroll through wellness/fitness personalities on instagram will show you a lot of the same but Kait’s going deeper and having introspective, thoughtful conversations that lead to action and personal growth.
Hannah Bronfman @hannahbronfman - If you like your workouts to vary from dance/cardio to boxing and intense weight pulls, then Hannah is your girl. You’ll also get a hefty dose of nail art and vacation envy when you follow along. Hannah authored the recently released book Do What Feels Good that I’m sure embodies her laid back vibe and wide ranging tastes.
BONUS: Hannah is not afraid to share her myriad skin care treatments, which can be fascinating and soothing. Plus, if you’re someone whose life is a bit more, uh….regimented? it’s fun to live vicariously through her globe-trotting adventures.
Lizette Pompa @lizette_pompa - Equal parts yoga and strength/body weight training, Lizette Pompa’s videos are nice and sparse, just like I like it! She gives clear instruction without a lot of chit chat but don’t be fooled, her yoga sequences are challenging. If you’re thinking about incorporating more weight training, her kettle bell/weight moves are my favorite. You can get lots of ideas from her stories or subscribe to Yogateket for more workouts.
BONUS: I love Lizette’s free youtube yoga sessions, particularly the 30 Minute Vinyasa Flow Class and the Vinyasa Morning Bliss.