Workout videos for people who hate exercise
July 16, 2021 9:04 AM   Subscribe

I've started exercising for 15 minutes in the morning, at home, with no equipment. There are lots of videos for this purpose but most of them drive me crazy because they act like this should be fun and enjoyable. Any beginner workout videos that acknowledge that it sucks but you're gonna do it anyway, or at least aren't so peppy about it?

I am not looking for ways to make exercise enjoyable. I am chronically ill and autistic with significant motor/proprioreception and sensory issues--moving my body will never, ever be enjoyable for me and it has been much healthier for me to accept that than keep searching for the one true thing that will be fun enough to motivate me.

My solution is to instead incorporate it religiously into my routine even though it sucks. I exercise for 15 minutes in the morning, at home, with no equipment. I am not interested in changing any of these things. I have no goals for improving my strength, tightening abs, losing weight or whatever, I'm doing it for general health and nothing more. I don't want to do yoga, extensive body position changes are difficult for me.

I've been using various workout videos on Youtube but they all drive me crazy because the person doing the video enjoys exercise and acts like you will too.

Examples of the kind of talk I hate:

- "You'll feel a nice burn in [x]!" There is no such thing as a "nice" burn.
- "This next one will be fun!" No it won't.
- "Move your body in any way that feels good!" None of it feels good.

I get that this is part of the exercise motivation/marketing piece and it works for a lot of people but I just want something that I can follow along with that doesn't make me feel bad for not enjoying it. This video would have been perfect but it's interspersed with a lot of talking/commentary and is more about showing you discrete exercises than a workout for you to follow (e.g. they'll show you how to do an exercise for a couple seconds, then say "do that this much and on both sides" but not show it).

So, to reiterate, requirements:
- Workout video you can follow along
- Can be done at home with no equipment (including a chair or a wall)
- Beginner-friendly so I don't injure myself
- Not yoga
- Doesn't act like exercise is fun

Nice to haves
- 15 minute workout would be good, but I don't mind stopping a longer video early or repeating a shorter video
- Exercises requiring balance kept to a minimum
- All standing or all sitting/laying down, or at least not more than 1 shift between the two

Any suggestions?
posted by brook horse to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 109 users marked this as a favorite
Justin Agustin. I am easing back into working out after a decade-long hiatus and I hate absolutely everything about exercising but I LOVE him. He's got everything on your list and he doesn't talk at all except to tell you what exercises are coming up next.
posted by anderjen at 9:10 AM on July 16, 2021 [10 favorites]

Caroline Girvan. She has an upbeat but very matter of fact approach that is refreshingly different from a lot of fitness influencers. No or little talking during the actual workouts. There is a beginner version of her Epic program on YouTube that could be a good fit for you.
posted by scantee at 9:26 AM on July 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I would check out Down Dog's suite of apps. They're free for healthcare workers, students, and educators through the end of the year, and highly customizable. They have yoga (which I can't stand either), HIIT, barre, and a couple others. You can set the length of your exercise routine, focus on specific body areas or muscle groups, set how challenging they are, and also the amount of commentary/instruction. There's not a lot of encouragement talk, which I avoid too, but more than that if you're new to a routine and need lots of coaching, you set it up to give you detailed instructions, whereas if you're familiar with it and don't need many at all, I think you can turn them off almost entirely.
posted by knucklebones at 9:37 AM on July 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I get my all-standing, high-intensity (non-stop cardio that keeps your heart pumping) but LOW IMPACT 30min workouts from Body Project.

There’s usually a mod to add weights, jumping or more motion range for the high impact version.

Very much aimed at beginners, but super inspirational. The instructor Mark looks fit but will always talk about how he’s sweating and struggling, how he only does the low impact versions himself due to injuries, how it’s supposed to be hard. It’s very real, and it’s great to see bigger people at all fitness levels following along in the videos.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:39 AM on July 16, 2021 [9 favorites]

Would you consider an app? I use "Workout For Women." Other than showing mostly photos of women for the workout title cards and using a feminine form and voice to demonstrate the exercises, it's not overwhelmingly female oriented. Instead of an instructor, there's an animation of the exercises (it also links to short youtube videos of the individual exercises if you need additional information about proper form).

What I like, and what you might like, is that it has very little "personality" to it because it's not a video of an instructor, it's just a voice giving you cues. I also find it very easy to sort for length of workout, level (beginnger/intermediate/advanced), and type of exercises (stretches, cardio, 7-minute workouts). You can also get a preview of all the exercises involved so you can see how many (if any) up-and-down transitions there are.

I think you can get a free trial (I haven't subscribed), so maybe take a look.
posted by CiaoMela at 9:41 AM on July 16, 2021

I recently bought a package from GMB Fitness when they had it on sale. I haven't done much yet other than try a couple sample exercises, but I like their attitude. They do talk about the "fun" of the workout, but more along the lines of being playful vs. formulaic with movement, and their overall attitude is much more in line with physical therapists than peppy workout coaches. The emphasis is definitely on functional movement and how doing the exercises will benegit the rest of your life, rather than what you get out of the exercises themselves, if that makes sense. I don't know whether it would work for your particular constraints, but they've got a free trial and they'll chat with you over email to help figure out if it could work.
posted by duien at 10:07 AM on July 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ayhan Sulu says NOTHING. Not a word. Just dances, smiles, and it would appear sings along but you can't hear it. Some of the music is not to my taste but I will take it because I despise the fake encouragement as well. No floor work. Most of the workouts are 15-30 minutes, or you can pick a few songs you can tolerate and make a playlist.
posted by wellred at 10:09 AM on July 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

Heather Robinson is all business.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:23 AM on July 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've been doing a bunch of Reps to the Rhythm - mostly walking with mostly simple patterns for variation. He's been doing a few that are arm or leg exercise specific.

No speaking, he cues visually when you're about to change direction on something. And I find the "This is how many minutes left" helpful, plus there's a significant range of times, including a good cluster around 10 minutes, and another around 15-18 minutes.

I usually mute the sound and listen to a podcast instead, which is my other solution to perky people talking over things in other videos.
posted by jenettsilver at 10:27 AM on July 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oh, about Down Dog: they all work just fine on a browser so you don't actually need the apps themselves.
posted by knucklebones at 10:40 AM on July 16, 2021

If you’d consider an app, I really like the JnJ 7-minute workout app—you can customize your intensity level and in addition to the 7-minute one, you can do a smart workout that’s around 20 mins including resting between exercises. It just basically has a timer and an animation showing you how to do the exercise. I think halfway through the smart workout it says something like “good job, keep it up!” But it’s pretty low-key.
posted by music for skeletons at 12:22 PM on July 16, 2021

One last thing, possibly irrelevant to you: this Chrome extension, Netflex, pairs a workout with your Netflix show. I just discovered it yesterday, so no idea if it's perfect but there's no narration at all and if you don't like the workout, you can just reload the page and get another one. It's not customizable at all (the workout lengths are 20-40 min, tailored to the length of the show you're watching), but it might be a nice way to get some exercise in while also enjoying yourself a moderate amount.
posted by knucklebones at 12:54 PM on July 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’m a big fan of the Group HIIT channel. They are no bullshit and just show a person doing the exercises with no music and no commentary, just countdown beeps. I also hate the videos with talking and I love being able to listen to my own music.

They have a variety of free videos on Youtube at different levels and lengths and many are tagged with things like no equipment, no jumping etc. so I’m sure you can find something suitable to your needs.
posted by vanitas at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've being doing Chloe Ting workouts with the sound down and the radio or a podcast on. Free, lots of choice in the 10-15 minute range, and it's easy enough to follow along without listening to a single (enraging) word of encouragement. She typically demonstrates a low-impact option for each exercise.
posted by lulu68 at 11:22 PM on July 16, 2021

Do you definitely need to follow along with someone? One other option might be to find or create a list of exercises for a circuit (a combo of whatever works best for you -- lunges, jumping jacks, planks, push ups, etc -- Google will have plenty of suggestions and posters/lists to print out and use, here's an example of a low impact workout) and do those to some music.

I've started doing this because I find watching someone on YouTube too distracting/annoying for similar reasons to you. When I can just do it myself to some fun uplifting playlists, it's much easier and I can just let my mind focus on my body and concentrate on getting it over with. Once you've got the basics of each exercise down you don't really need guidance.
posted by fight or flight at 3:35 AM on July 17, 2021

I was going to suggest the JnJ 7-minute workout app that music for skeletons recommended. It should satisfy all your points except the final “nice to have”. It can randomly generate a new routine for you each time, picking from its library of exercises, based on your level of fitness. You can mark exercises you (particularly) don’t like and they won’t be included.
posted by fabius at 6:07 AM on July 20, 2021

Polar have a series of workout videos on YouTube of various lengths. All that I've seen just feature a demo of the movement and then the timings.

They are a fitness wearable company,I have the watch, but all their content seems to be available for free
posted by Fence at 2:15 AM on July 25, 2021

I didn't know how to parse your requirement "no equipment (including a chair or a wall)" to know if you're counting them as equipment or making them an exception. But if a chair and wall are okay for you then I've found the 7-minute Standing Workout from the NYT to be a good option even though I hate exercise.

The guide does low-key talking about the exercises and gives low-impact options. The encouragement is just an occasional "nearly there" or "good work" but said in the same tone of voice as everything else, so for me it acts more as a marker of progress/completion.

The drawbacks are the NYT paywall and that it's a streaming file you can't download to save later. I keep meaning to make myself a little web page or file or something I can play that does the same sequence, but life gets in the way.
posted by harriet vane at 9:34 PM on August 1, 2021

I think my NYT one might be from the same Chris Jordan as the Johnson & Johnson app. If so, can confirm that his approach is very calm with no perkiness or aggression.
posted by harriet vane at 9:43 PM on August 1, 2021

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