good 20 minute exercise videos?
September 3, 2017 6:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations for good 15-25 minute videos that are not too intense but are kind of varied and work out the whole body. Will pay if necessary, but free is good too. Specifics inside.

I'm a 39-year-old ex-athlete woman who had to quit my sport about six years ago and never really found anything else. Two pregnancies and about 25 pounds later, I'm realising that I need to figure out an exercise thing that works for me that I can actually keep up with, but despite starting and stopping many things I haven't found something that I can stick with.

My biggest problem by far is time. I have two kids under five and a more-than-full-time job (professor) with a long commute. The kids are finally mostly sleeping through the night but even so, I'm exhausted most of the time and it is very very hard to motivate to use my limited free time on anything other than reading or surfing the web.

Also, at this point I'm extremely out of shape. I spend a lot of time walking and carrying toddlers around, but compared to my rugby playing days it's awful. For instance, we have about 25 steep steps to and from our house and I get winded going up them, especially if I'm carrying anything heavy. And I think part of my general exhaustion is just not being fit anymore.

Given all of these factors, my goal now is just to start something regular, that I can stick with, that will put me into enough shape that when I do have the time to join an adult pick-up soccer club or boxing thing, I can. And even if I don't end up doing that, I want to at least arrest the out-of-shape-ness and get my body used to moving again. I really don't want to look up when I'm 45 or 50 and find that I'm starting to have health problems because I haven't been on top of this.

So my newest idea I want to try is to wake up at like 5:45am, which will give me half an hour before my toddler wakes up, and just do some exercise videos. I googled around but I have no idea what videos would be good or what would fit my criteria, because they all sound super intense or like bullshit or both ("QUICK FULL BODY WORKOUT!" ; "become an IRONMAN in JUST SEVEN MINUTES A DAY" with intense looking people with scary abs yelling at you). I want something that lasts like 15-25 minutes, includes some basic stretching and core stuff, some days is more aerobic and some days more weight-based, has different videos so I can vary it a bit so it doesn't get boring, and is not super hard core.

It would also be nice if the people involved look like regular people and I'm not constantly comparing my schlubby middle-aged body to their 20-year-old sixpacked self. I don't want them talking about weight; I'm in a pretty good headspace lately regarding weight and I've managed to do that by not thinking about it at all, instead focusing on health, but listening to 25 minutes a day of people telling me shed pounds or whatever will ruin that. My goal is here to get into better shape and actually stick with this, not run an ironman or lose weight or bench 200 pounds.

I have a few small weights and would be willing to buy a few more, or a little step or mat or small things like that that would make it go better. I don't have loads of space to run or bounce around though (about 2x2 meters or so).

So... do you have any suggestions for videos like this that have worked for you and fulfil these criteria? I am willing to pay but hopefully not a lot (especially because I don't know what I'd be getting before paying). I'm also okay with interleaving two kinds of videos, e.g. one set focused on aerobics, one on weights. NB: I am in Australia so if it requires something other than downloading stuff from a computer, it will have to ship to Australia and work on Australian DVDs. Ideally though I can just download them because that means I can start sooner.
posted by forza to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
The dvds I keep coming back to year after year are the Total Body Sculpt with Gilad. 22 minutes of full body workout. Not focused on becoming uber athlete nor focused on weight loss. Emphasis is on strength and overall fitness. Gilad is very encouraging without being overly so. Participants in the dvds are fit, but I do not find them intimidating. Always an excellent workout.
posted by ChristineSings at 7:06 PM on September 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've always liked Denise Austin videos. She's pretty normal and has pregnancy pre and post. I really like her Pilates.
posted by irish01 at 7:09 PM on September 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

It doesn't fit your requirement of not looking like models, but I use the Popsugar Fitness channel on YouTube. I find the workouts effective and they have a wide variety of lengths and ability levels. During typhoon season, they often replace running for me.
posted by frumiousb at 7:09 PM on September 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Jen Sinkler played rugby with the US national team and put together workouts as fast as 10 minutes. Lift Weights Faster

This will be perfect.
posted by littlewater at 7:11 PM on September 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I feel like I say this anytime anyone asks about workout videos, but holy fuck do I love Fitness Blender. They do free YouTube workout videos that you can search by body part focus, type of workout, maximum and/or minimum time, required equipment, or keyword. They don't look like normal people, but they're pretty chill about weight, and they've cut down on weight, fat and calorie talk over time. The site is run by a couple, and the woman in the couple has recently become a lot more open about her own eating disorder history and why she doesn't focus on weight or burning calories.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:13 PM on September 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

Seconding Fitness Blender, and I also do this quick-ish yoga routine once or twice a week.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:15 PM on September 3, 2017

Try Jenny Ford on YouTube! She has short step/walking workouts just in the ballpark you're looking for, and she doesn't harp on about weight and calories. She just tells you you're awesome!
posted by sacchan at 8:58 PM on September 3, 2017

Google "10 minute barre" and you'll find lots of short barre-style workouts, most focusing on your core and using light weights (and not requiring any other equipment). I've really enjoyed the barre classes I've taken and they're very positive, no lecturing.
posted by mogget at 9:10 PM on September 3, 2017

Yoga Studio has been awesome for me, especially when I don't want to exercise. I use this on an iPad but it's available in other formats as well. There is a 15 minute "beginner combination" series that is really well done. You can even customize and link yoga poses using the app. It's calming but also will result in increased flexibility, awareness, and strength. Easy to jump right in.
posted by belau at 9:31 PM on September 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I looooove BodyFit by Amy on YouTube. She's encouraging but laid back and is health focused, not appearance focused. You can search the videos by length - 20 minutes for example. Or equipment type / style like HIIT. I do the pilates if I'm feeling a little lower-key and go up to kettlebell when I want to feel tuff. I also like that she has a bunch of 5-10 minute videos for days when I have super limited time, but still want to squeeze some higher-intensity exercise in.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 9:43 PM on September 3, 2017

Thanks, guys. These are fantastic. I'm going to work my way through lots of them and not click best answer until I've settled on some things. So great to have lots of good options! I'll keep looking in on this if anyone has other ideas.
posted by forza at 10:26 PM on September 3, 2017


Super positive, function-oriented, focuses on pelvic floor, core, back - really, everything you need to feel good in your body. It's $2/ month and such a ridiculous bargain. I never thought I'd pay when there is so much free content out there, but it has been very worth it for me.
posted by munichmaiden at 11:56 PM on September 3, 2017

One suggestion would be to try out a bunch of different videos, and not get stuck to one particular program. My SO has gone all-out-fonda in front of the TV and jumps between Youtube channels one day to the next.

One channel which doesn't particularly fit your criteria but might be a good thing to throw in the mix is Marshall Fitness. I'm watching the videos just for the joy of it, actually:
posted by monocultured at 2:22 AM on September 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just started getting back into exercising after second child and have been using the 7 Minute Workout app from Johnson & Johnson. You could do the 7 minutes or a "Smart Workout" that keeps evolving with your skill level is closer to 10 min with warmup and cool down. I do two of them back to back. I like that it's an app and not just video - there are videos of how to do the exercise and audio instructions for each exercise but also you can just flip to your iTunes. I do the workout with a wireless headset and find that I can do the exercises mostly anyplace in the house so I sometimes even do them, like, while the dinner I am cooking is simmering for 20 min or kid is napping. I've also been hearing good things about the Spitfire app for weight lifting - was started specifically by women who wanted the visuals to showcase strong women lifting.
posted by sestaaak at 4:22 AM on September 4, 2017

I like the xhit series on youtube, they're short and varied, so you don't get bored and can choose to do something different each day. The hosts do look like models but I still find them relatable. The video titles are kind of silly (ex: Beyonce Butt Workout!), but don't be turned off!
posted by watrlily at 5:15 AM on September 4, 2017

I've... never met anyone who's had long term success with exercise videos, so a side suggestion: buy a recumbent exercise bike. Either plop it in front of the TV, and pedal while you watch, or put it anywhere, and ride whenever you're reading. Those fit in when you've already got free time, and don't require some unicorn of a perfect workout video that someone stays fun and relevant for years.
posted by talldean at 12:06 PM on September 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have had long-term success with exercise videos (but then again, I've never met talldean). The PsycheTruth channel on YouTube might fit your requirements. Lots of 20-minute workouts (mainly yoga, but other types of exercise too), instructors who look like regular people, and, occasionally, cats wandering onto the set.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 3:17 PM on September 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

12 minute dance workout from Popsugar. This one builds up to being harder than I expected which I liked.

This one is 12 minutes of basically learning a dance routine which is a nice change from a normal workout.

Billy Blanks is fun and positive cardio. This is a ten-minute video but if you like it, I recommend his DVD's for the longer workouts.

Efficient 15 minute leg workout. I used this to help my bad knee but it's also just a solid leg workout.

These two videos: Warm up 1 & Warm up 2 come out to about 12 minutes total. They are not really workouts but warm up routines, which I use when I don't have the time or energy to work out hard, but need to get my body moving. Using one of of them is also a great 5-minute warmup before a 12 - 15 minute video to complete your 20 minutes!

Fun dance workout from Popsugar. This one is 30 minutes which is hard but you could potentially cut it in half and do a 5 minute warmup beforehand.
posted by sweetjane at 6:36 PM on September 4, 2017

Wanted to come in late and address the effectiveness of exercise videos. When I was recovering from a disaster pregnancy and had to lose a *lot* of weight, several months of exercise videos (starting with just the warmup) were how I lost 15 pounds and got myself into the strength and confidence to start walking and running again. Like any other fitness, it depends how you go about it.
posted by frumiousb at 7:29 PM on September 7, 2017

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