Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 June 2019

What it's like to endure one month of online fitness workouts

After a month of daily workouts (except for weekends), our writer has recovered enough to share her experiences

Personal trainer Kayla Itsines. Getty
Personal trainer Kayla Itsines. Getty

With the words “new year, new me” firmly etched in my mind as the clock struck 12 on December 31, I stepped into 2019 with a mission. Like many wannabe fitness addicts, I decided it was finally time I got into exercise.

Nearing 29 years old, and aware my metabolism won’t always be as kind, I made up my mind to find the ultimate workout. One that I can go back to again and again, and that will inspire me to be a better me.

January, then, would be a month of workouts, a different one each day. Naturally, I wanted the easiest, most economical route to turning my body into a temple, so as every true millennial does, I looked to the internet for guidance.

Trialling one online workout a day for the month of January (giving myself weekends off, because the body does need to rest), from yoga and street dance to high-intensity interval training, I set out to find the best, most upbeat and entertaining trainers the web has to offer. Here’s how it went.

January 1: The Body Coach

Bright-eyed and fluffy-haired Brit Joe Wicks is the man behind The Body Coach, an online 90-day plan that promises to “transform your body”. It’s with him I decide to begin my fitness mission, choosing a workout that Wicks tells me is “absolute ground zero for total beginners”. The good news is that, despite this being a workout for novices, I am awash with sweat by the end. However, I find repeating the same exercises over and over again a bit tedious.

January 2: Yoga with Adriene

My arms are sore, thanks to my session with The Body Coach, and I feel like I’m coming down with the flu. After debating whether I am allergic to exercise, I decide to go with something slow. I join yoga instructor Adriene and her dog, Benji, for a sunrise session in my living room. It turns out to be a very rewarding morning stretch and the cactus arms pose soothes my aching limbs. Benji chills in the corner, while Adriene and I find our “inner quiet” together. Namaste to this workout.

January 3 to 7: Pop Pilates with Cassey Ho

With 4.4 million subscribers, Cassey Ho’s Blogilates YouTube channel touts itself as “a community of Popsters who live and breathe Pop Pilates”. I’m not quite sure what that means, but ­Thursday’s 100 Ab Challenge is only six minutes long and I’m in a rush. I go for it, thinking I have enough strength in my abs. How wrong I am. Halfway through the workout, I am in so much pain that I have to cut down to her “easy” variation, which I am able to complete. Ho’s Ab Challenge is for the entire month of January, so I follow her for a few more days to tone my gut. Friday’s workout is 100 cross-kick crunches, which she does with a friend. I’m confused as to how they’re having a conversation. Three kicks in and my legs are quivering.

After a break on Saturday and Sunday, I return to Ho’s double leg-lift workout, which is an absolute killer. Just three days in and I’m wondering how anyone could manage an entire month of this punishment to the stomach. It makes me think twice about smearing Nutella over my toast this morning. It’s working, though, since I’m hurting all over.

January 8: Fitness Blender

Husband and wife Daniel and Kelli have been running Fitness Blender for six years. They have more than 500 free videos, but their voices are so lacking in enthusiasm and emotion that I want to give up in minutes. Motivational this is not.

January 9: Kayla Itsines

Australian personal trainer Kayla Itsines, who aims to bring “confidence and pride to women all around the world”, has made an empire out of her Bikini Body workout. This one’s a full-body session that, frustratingly, isn’t guided, but the exercises and reps have me feeling an all-over burn. It’s a good one for when you’re feeling highly charged.

January 10 and 11: The Fitness Marshall

I choose Caleb Marshall and his pop-spiked dance routines for two days straight. In spite of the fact that I have to roll down my blinds, so absolutely no one will see me attempting these ­intense dance workouts, I’m now one of his dedicated 1.5 million subscribers.

January 14: Namaste Yoga

I start my week with this 25-minute yoga session that takes in a full breadth of poses and has an energetic flow. I find it calming and it also wakes me up – making it the perfect pick for a Monday morning.

January 15: Les Mills cardio workout

A group of young, fit things in urban athleticwear in an industrial-like space? It ticks all my boxes and I’m perspiring within minutes. Run, plank, squat, stand – the regime is incessant, but the pumping drum and bass really inspires me to work. I am also feeling much fitter and less sore this week.

January 16: Les Mills BodyCombat – PopSugar

This 33-minute video of punching and kicking should work wonders on my wobbly noodle arms if I keep at it. It’s rhythmic, but unfortunately, the music doesn’t quite inspire me to tune back in.

January 17: Millionaire Hoy 20-minute HIIT workout

The only thing good about this 20-minute high-intensity ­interval training session is the on-screen countdown timer. I’m finding HIIT to be very repetitive, so I need good music and a motivating trainer to keep at it. Millionaire Hoy has neither of these things.

January 18: Les Mills dance workout

I’m officially a Les Mills fan. Today’s dance workout sees a gang of good-vibes Australians leading a workshop for a full 40 minutes, and I don’t hit the pause button once.

January 21: Zuzka Light

The trainer from the Czech ­Republic leads a session using medium-sized weights, so this workout is only good if you have them. In a sadistic way, I’m happy Light is out of breath ­herself, but that’s about the only thing I’m happy with. I want to be boosted, energised and motivated, but this ­workout lacks the music I need to ­commit to it.

January 22: Studio Sweat

I have to go to a friend’s house to use his spinning bike for this video. I have always hated spinning for the sheer pain of it all. “The one challenge is do not hit the pause button,” says the instructor. The music is such horrible-happy hardcore that I don’t just pause; I switch off once and for all.

January 23: Tabata

A Tabata workout involves weight-training to music, using the beats to determine when to pause and when to really go for it. It sounded right up my street so I thought I’d give this a go, but I’m not quite as ­advanced in my fitness journey yet to take this on.

January 24: Seven-minute workout

This regime has a lot going for it: it’s short, upbeat and easy to follow. Apparently all we need is seven minutes in the morning to get us going. While ­planking, I noticed my rug needs a sweep, so I got straight to doing that and then cleaned the house after waking up with this video.

January 25: Sufferfest

It does what it says on the tin: 45 minutes of indoor cycling hell paired to intense music that has me cursing my ability to hear. It’s not the one for me, although my calves and thighs are in sweet agony for days.

January 28: PopSugar Low Impact Cardio

I’m still in pain post-­Sufferfest, so I decide on a low-impact session with PopSugar ­Fitness, which has more than 2.7 ­million YouTube subscribers. The trainers are ­motivational, and the workout is easy to follow with three difficulty options. A thumbs up.

January 29: Nike Training App

If you want to take your ­workout beyond the living room to a park, beach or even the gym, this app is free and offers a selection of exercises that can be tailored to your needs. I liked the body squats workout and will be coming back to it.

January 30: FIIT App

Now that I’m on the app wagon, I try FIIT’s free 30-day fitness plan. It’s not quite as well designed as Nike’s offering, so of the two I’d opt for the former to achieve my new-me fitness goal.

January 31: Insanity Beach Body on Demand

The day of reckoning has arrived. I saved the ­craziest- ­looking workout for last and I was right to do so. Insanity Beach Body on Demand is enough to make me want to never exercise again, at least while I’m doing it, but amazingly, I am able to keep up with this relentless cardio circuit.

Updated: February 7, 2019 01:46 PM

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