In February, my fiancé decided he wanted to buy a treadmill. The decision happened (as many fitness decisions do) in January after a holiday season full of delicious food and drink and not a lot of exercise. We were both casual joggers, so the purchase seemed a little excessive to me at the time. "Are you sure you want to spend the money on this?" I asked him, skeptical. It arrived toward the end of February and right away I enjoyed using it, but I still realized there was a possibility it could get old, or I’d prefer my studio pilates classes. And then COVID-19 happened. Suddenly, that treadmill was one of the only things keeping me balanced and anxiety-free amidst one of the most stressful times of our lives. I had never been more thankful for an impulse purchase. Ever.
Now, six months later, we’ve logged almost 200 workouts total. And while I still love the treadmill, I’ve been looking for (safe) ways to switch up workouts. At first, I considered buying heavier dumbbells to add a challenge. After seeing the price of 20-pound dumbbells, though, I opted for something cheaper: mini body bands. I had seen various fitness coaches using them on Instagram and they seemed doable enough. I decided to try them out with a handful of YouTube workouts. It couldn’t be that challenging, right? I thought to myself, hitting play on the first workout. Ha. Ha. Ha.
This was the first one I tried out, and the exact moment I realized I had actually bought mini body bands and not resistance bands. Oops. But hey, they still worked. This was one of the easier workouts I tried, but I think part of that came from the fact that I didn’t yet know what I was doing. I was still figuring out which body band level made sense for me (I eventually landed on using the medium option) and how to keep the bands from rolling. So, while I found this one frustrating, I have a feeling it would be a lot more enjoyable and challenging the second time around. I also liked that the instructor talked through the whole routine.
This was one of my favorites. It was a tough workout, but the breaks in between each set made it seem doable. At first, I missed the instructor’s voice walking me through the exercises, but it was easy to adjust and I enjoyed playing my own music. And man, did these moves burn every single body part.
I loved, loved, loved that this workout combined dumbbells and body bands. It made everything feel more dynamic and familiar (not to mention, it was an added challenge). These workouts are much more difficult than they look, which makes them less intimidating (a plus) but incredibly challenging.
I didn’t love some of the jumping moves in this work (my god, those burpees at the beginning), but it seemed to work on my entire body (and the time went by really quickly). By the end of the 25 minutes, I was sore and absolutely dripping sweat—but because the video broke the workout into three parts, it was over before I knew it. I Would definitely do this one again. The modifications here were also super easy. And the squat/crunch combos were one of my favorite moves from any video.
I wanted to try out a video that focused on just one body part, and one that was on the super short side—so, I gave this arm-focused, 12-minute video a try. It really felt like a pilates class—slow, concentrated (painful) motions. It challenged my arms from top to bottom, but because the motions were slow, it felt a little more drawn out than some of the other workouts. However, for only 10 minutes (most of the last two minutes is just stretching) and virtually no equipment, this would be a great everyday workout.
All in all, my favorite part of these videos and workouts were that they felt continuously accessible. Whether I’m traveling, have a ton of equipment (or none at all—in the last video she wasn’t even wearing shoes), or only have a few minutes, they all made strength exercises seem doable. And in a moment where gyms aren’t going to be accessible for a long, long time, that’s certainly a win in my book.