My 10 Favorite (Free!) Online Workout Resources

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As much as I’m excited about Baby H’s impending arrival, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit nervous about squeezing in workouts with a wee one who could care less about schedules, classes and training cycles. While s/he will be a priority from here on out, I don’t want to entirely lose my “me” time — those regular sweat sessions that help me fight stress, make goals, feel good about myself and (as I’ve heard) allow me to be a better mom.

Fortunately, though, I’m not alone in this endeavor. There’s a wealth of fit mamas out there who are not only great role models, but on whom us newbies can also lean for advice when it comes to navigating this “new normal” with grace and a sense of humor!

Case in point: My college friend and sorority sister, Angela, who is so many inspiring things…a successful lawyer, a mother of three and an avid marathoner and Ironman 70.3 finisher. We connected recently about postnatal training, which she now does mostly at home whether it’s running on the treadmill, riding her bike trainer or doing yoga in front of the TV.

Angela's also an amazing role model for her kiddos; here, she helped her daughter run her first 5k!

Angela’s also an amazing role model for her kiddos; here, her daughter ran her first 5k!

Note to self: Apparently the rhythmic thumping of the treadmill is a great way to lull newborns to sleep. Thanks for the tip, Ang 🙂

One thing she said she’s missing, however, are some solid workout resources to help her keep her home workout mojo between training for races. And being that I’m about to venture into the same territory, she figured it might be a topic I’d like to explore (yes!), so I’ve been on a quest to find what I think are the best free fitness resources online at the moment.

Here’s what I came up with:

1. One-Stop Shop: Fitness Blender

Founded by a husband and wife team, Daniel and Kelli, it offers a wide selection of full-length video workouts in all kinds of categories. Whether you’re looking for cardio, strength, stretching or more, I love that you can search by workout length, body focus, training type and equipment needed for a sweat session that’s customized to your needs.

2. Spinning: Spinning Freak

While this site doesn’t host guided at-home cycling classes, per se, I do think it’s one of the most legit bike workout resources on the web. I don’t know about you, but instead of watching people with poor form yell out cues, I’d much rather download workout profiles and their corresponding playlists and go at it on my own; that way, you’ve got all the zone and cadence information you need for a fantastic, focused ride.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training: Body Rock

If you’re short on time and looking to maximize your results, this is a must-visit site for its high-quality videos, creative moves, basic equipment and short but very intense workouts. Expect lots of cardio and (mostly) bodyweight circuit workouts, all of which are modifiable for a range of skill levels and either come with detailed descriptions and pictures or are well-instructed in video format.

4. Strength Training: XHit

Bodybuilder types beware, this site’s more geared toward a peek behind the scenes of celebrity fitness routines with a range of lower body, upper body and core strengthening exercises, as well a number of seven day workout plans. But I like that you can piece together different videos to target the areas of your choice, so consider it a complement to your usual routine or a way to mix things up on those days where you just can’t make it to the gym.

5. Yoga: Do Yoga With Me

Get your OM on any which way you choose, thanks to an incredible offering of classes from this site. Not only are instructors top-notch, but you can also sort videos by difficulty, class length, style and teacher — plus there are a number of instructional videos that focus on the basics and skill-building for honing your practice at home.

6. Programs from Favorite Trainers: Be Fit

If you’re inspired by working out with popular trainers such as Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin, Jane Fonda, Billy Blanks Jr., Tara Stiles and more, then this is the place to go for all kinds of fitness programs. Not only does it offer a new video each weekday, but it’s also got a huge range of videos to cater to every craving, whether you’re looking to burn fat, sculpt muscle, tone up or slim down.

7. Pilates: FT Pilates

While it hasn’t been updated in some time, this site still offers a number of specific, mostly-bodyweight workouts that are fun, informative and allow you to target different areas of the body for flexibility and toning. One of my favorites is the stability ball workout, but I’ll also piece together other shorter videos for a full-body routine.

8. Bodyweight: Make Your Body Work

As a professional weight loss coach and “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013, Dave Smith offers almost 80 full workouts, as well as a bunch of other videos with advice for adopting a healthier lifestyle. Each workout challenges your entire body, include elements of cardio, strength and core conditioning, plus offers different difficulty levels that provide up to four distinct options for every single move.

9. Miscellaneous: eFit30

Interested in exploring Primal Movements or Air Yoga? This Australian-based site gives plenty of variety to keep you from getting bored, yet it still offer offers a number of your traditional yoga, Pilates, bootcamp, total-body and high-intensity interval training videos to keep you active when you just aren’t able to hit up the gym.

10. On-The-Go: Nike Training Club App

When all else fails (or if I’m just too lazy to look up a workout on my computer), I know I can always count on NTC to deliver an ass-kicking via my iPhone that will leave me crumpled on the floor in a happy, sweaty heap. The app features more than 100 workouts led by Nike Master Trainers, complete with audio cues, video guides and step-by-step images to ensure good form and make following along a breeze.

Do you have any favorite online resources for free, at-home workouts? If so, please let us know below! 
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August Goal Check-In

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“August is the Sunday of summer.”

I’ve been hearing this sentiment crop up lately as we enter our final stretch of summer. But it’s hard to share in that all-too-familiar melancholy when you feel as though you’ve made the most of the past few months, life-wise.

Admittedly, I haven’t been the most disciplined or the most goal-oriented when it comes to training and racing this season. But you know what? I needed a mental break, plus my body needed a breather. And I’m going to stop feeling guilty and/or apologizing about it. 

This is primarily a health and fitness blog, though, which is why I always put pressure on myself to keep pushing boundaries. I like it that way; not only for accountability, but to keep things fresh and fun and for the support of a community in which we reach for things once never thought possible.

But it’s also real life. And the truth is that the reality of living a healthy lifestyle isn’t always about testing the limits of strength and endurance or earning new PR’s and shiny finisher medals.

Those are wonderful — not gonna lie — but as my “off-season” stretched further than usual this year, I’m less concerned at the moment about living and dying by a strict training plan and more preoccupied with thinking about priorities, motivation, goals and how they’re evolving as I grow older.

As you can probably tell, I’ve had ample time to reflect this month. Maybe too much. But that’s one of the perks of an extended off-season, as well, I suppose.

So, you can see how it’s also hard to believe that this is the last summer edition of my monthly recaps; the next one will be after the official start of fall, and I’ve got something a little different in the works for September… Stay tuned!

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

In August we officially wrapped up the summer edition of the Portland Trail Series. There were two final races this month, one of which I paced friends and the other I ran with Ben (or rather, behind him) to finish the series just as we began it: together.

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What I’d really been waiting for, however, was a visit from my parents from Michigan! I can count the number of states my dad hasn’t been to on one hand — and Oregon was one of them, so it was especially thrilling to be able to explore with them and show off the beauty of summer in Portland.

2. Training Smarter

I like to think I’m pretty in tune with my body, but this month I honed my skills on the subtleties of hearing versus really listening. Hearing can be tuned out, but actual listening takes effort to decipher what’s going on — i.e. sometimes a nap with the dogs is warranted instead of a tough workout.

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Along that same theme of body awareness, I’ve taken a deeper dive into yoga, Pilates, barre, cycling and strength training this month. In the absence of playing with my usual running numbers (pace, mileage, etc.), I’ve found it very satisfying to keep my brain engaged with these types of technique-driven classes.

3. Facing Fears

Gah! Another month slipped by, and I’ve only made it into the pool once to practice those drills I learned in July. I did give Ben a long-desired birthday gift, however — a waterproof iPod and ear buds — which I’m thinking I will likely be stealing borrowing for upcoming water workouts.

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That’s right; no more excuses! I’m making it a goal to get in the pool at least once per week for September so I’m holding myself accountable — right here, right now.

4. Pushing Myself

Although I opted out of this year’s Hood to Coast in favor of cheering Ben on, I softened the blow by registering for a 5k with my sister in October. I’m also keeping an eye out for fun, holiday-themed events in November and December to round out the year. Because who doesn’t love a turkey trot?!

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And my eyes are already on the prize for 2016. The wheels have been turning, and I’m thinking I’d like to do a fall marathon, as well as some shorter distances (5k’s, 10k’s) in between to focus on speed over distance for a change. More on that soon…

5. Giving Back

Finally, our LUNA crew has really been blossoming over the course of the season, and I love ending Mondays with these beautiful, smiling faces. Our regulars are killin’ it with PR’s and all kinds of race distances, and we’re getting a steady stream of newbies popping by to check us out (if you’re interested, #justshowup — we really are ALL levels, walkers through runners)!

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In addition to sponsoring our second Portland Parks and Recreation $5 5k, we also started promoting our big Spin-a-thon charity event, which is taking place on September 27 from 3-5 pm at Revocycle in the Pearl. Get your sweat on, enjoy entertainment and refreshments, win some amazing raffle prizes and go home with a swag bag packed with goodies — all for a great case: the Breast Cancer Fund.

Join us — space is limited, so reserve your bike here before we sell out. And be sure to follow along in the fun via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

We’re also still actively recruiting, so whether you want to get out and stretch your legs with a vigorous walk or challenge yourself with a tough track workout, we’ve got something for everyone at practice each week. Bring a friend, and start your week off on the right foot!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Spirit + Strength: Use Yoga To Take Your Training to the Next Level

Think you’ve got to reserve yoga just for rest and recovery days?

Think again. 

Despite common misconceptions — i.e. that yoga’s purpose is simply to ease tension and melt away stress (although there’s most definitely a time and place for that variety) — a brisk, flowing session can actually do more than help you find your zen; it also improves digestion and circulation, builds lean muscle mass and helps increase your overall metabolic rate.

That’s fantastic news for weekend warriors. But it’s even better news for athletes who not only want to hone strength and flexibility, but also develop proper diaphragm use and breathing biomechanics, get back into alignment and discourage compensation patterns, as well as concentrate on activating specific muscles that have become inhibited.

“Yoga can be an incredibly beneficial practice for any athlete,” says Anabel Capalbo, a yoga teacher, spin instructor and Ironman triathlete. “A consistent yoga practice builds strength and stability, while also working to increase our body awareness and alert us to any weaknesses that could lead to injury.”

And instead of viewing yoga solely as a static practice, Capalbo says it’s helpful think of it as a moving mediation, a time for you to be present and become more aware of your body, your mind and forging a deeper connection between them.

“Not just physical, yoga turns our focus inward and towards our breath, teaching us to find a strong sense of peace and calm when on the mat. For athletes, that ability to turn towards breath and to find strength can be somewhat of a secret weapon,” says Capalbo.

Here’s a sample sequence that can help increase balance, flexibility and strength — not to mention up your athletic game, as well.


Source: Fix.com

Do you use yoga as part of your training routine? 

ClassPass-ing in Portland: Round 3

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After our initial #30ClassesIn30Days ClassPass challenge, Carolyn and I have settled into a nice rhythm with our weekly workouts: We hit up our favorite spots for cycling, strength training and yoga each week, but pepper in some new studios here and there to keep our fingers on the pulse of the Portland’s ever-growing fitness scene.

Not familiar with ClassPass? Check out my previous posts on it here and here.

And just as I’ve said it’s tough to get a bad meal here in Portland, we’ve learned pretty quickly that it’s just as difficult to find a poor workout here, as well.

Whether you’re looking for the precision of Pilates, mobility work for recovery days, an array of options for cardio or strength training, or simply functional workouts with the effectiveness of CrossFit with a tad less intensity — this city’s got it all; just pick your poison.

Although the sustainability (and longevity) of this business model remains to be seen — both for ClassPass and for participating studios — I’ve found it to be a useful discovery tool. We’ve stumbled upon places we may never have otherwise heard of, and it’s helpful for comparing and contrasting different studios before committing to class packages or monthly memberships.

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Here are a few recent highlights:

Pearl Pilates: Offers both individual and small group Pilates and Gyrotonic sessions by highly-trained instructors

Pedal PT: Full-service physical therapy office with a specialty in bicycling and running injuries

Portland Fit Body Bootcamp: Personal-trainer-designed workouts in a fun, safe, high-intensity group environment

Recreate Fitness: Trade mirrors and machines for hopscotch and hurdles in a friendly, supportive environment

YAS: Dedicated to the combination of Yoga and Spinning to combine cardio, strength training, stretching and alignment

Stay tuned as we explore more great Portland fitness spots in the coming months…

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Wanna check out ClassPass? Here’s a list of cities where it’s currently available.

How’d you stumble upon your favorite local studios?

ClassPass-ing around Portland: Month Two

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Yep, what started out as a one-month experiment has now quickly become a verb. My workout buddies and I “ClassPass” around town each week, testing different workouts, meeting with studio owners, spreading word about new places and making all kinds of fit friends in the process.

If you’re not familiar with ClassPass, I wrote about my initial experience with the service here. During our first round, Carolyn and I threw down the gauntlet for #30ClassesIn30Days, but now we’ve issued each other a much more sustainable challenge: hitting a handful of new (to us) studios each month.

Aside from one hiccup at a Saturday bootcamp where the class was overwhelmingly large and somewhat unruly, we’ve had nothing but excellent experiences across the board. Portland’s really stepped up to the plate when it comes to delivering quality sweat sessions.

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Here are the latest and greatest from round two:

The Grinning Yogi: Warm yoga haven whose mission is to provide consistently accessible, affordable classes for all levels

Fulcrum Fitness: Bootcamp and personal training gym featuring a mix of exercises that work different body systems

Hot Yoga for Life: Fusion of sweat and serenity, this place promises to strengthen your body and leave your spirit softened

Vibrant Studios: Lively community of movement classes, workshops, musical concerts and nutrition-based food events

Yoga on Yamhill: Non-competitive approach to yoga that fosters health and well-being and is accessible to everyone

Can’t wait to see what’s in store for month three!

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Wanna check ClassPass out? Here’s a list of cities where it’s currently available.

Are you a creature of habit when it comes to workouts, or do you like to mix things up?

Living the Sweaty Life with ClassPass: 1 Membership, Unlimited Workouts

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Ring the bell; ClassPass is in session and schooling us on the art of discovering the best boutique fitness classes in 30+ cities worldwide!

What is it?

For $79 – $99 a month (price varies by city), ClassPass’s monthly membership program will give you access to thousands of classes, including cycling, Pilates, yoga, strength training, dance, martial arts and more. Members can take up to 30 classes per month and can visit the same studio up to three times per monthly membership cycle.

Do the math; when we’re talking drop-ins that cost anywhere from $15-25 a pop, as well as memberships that run upwards of hundreds of dollars per month, it’s easy to see why ClassPass has taken the fitness market by storm.

Why Portland? 

As much as we like to pretend it’s not happening, the city is booming in just about every facet. And with a studio scene that rivals cities twice its size, Portland — aka America’s Fittest City — is a prime spot for ClassPass to set up shop.

Although I’ve officially been here since last August, I feel as though I’ve barely been able to scratch the surface of what’s available for us fit-minded folks. So when ClassPass asked me to check out their service and give my thoughts, I recruited my workout buddy Carolyn and we embarked on a #30ClassesIn30Days personal challenge.

Like kids in a candy store, we explored the entire workout spectrum of Stumptown. From unleashing while kickboxing to finding release through meditation, from swinging kettlebells to swinging through the air in aerial yoga — you name it, we’ve tried it. And had a blast in the process.

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Where’d we go? 

Read on for a sampling of all the spots that Carolyn and I were able to hit during our first month using ClassPass.

Our goal this next month is to keep branching out; not only is the variety a breath of fresh air, but it’s fantastic to be able to connect with — and support — some of Portland’s sweatiest hardest-working small business owners!

9Round: Get an efficient, yet effective, full-body kickboxing workout in just 30 minutes

a-wol Dance Collective: Fly through the air with the greatest of ease in aerial dance classes

The Bar Method: Reshape your booty body in an hour in an upbeat, barre-based class

The Bhaktishop Yoga Center: Celebrate yoga in a warm, friendly, bhakti-based practice

CorePower Yoga: Exhilarate body and mind; be prepared to sweat buckets in the process

Firebrand Sports: Don’t make more time to workout, just up intensity at this place. ‘Nuff said!

Honest Training: Focus on finding your personal best (bonus: owned by Coeur pal, Paisley)

Hush Meditation: Better your mind through simple and accessible guided mediation classes

Pil-oga-robic: Receive a balanced butt-kicking in a yoga, Pilates, cardio & strength combo

POINT: Train hard indoors here to build functional strength so you can play hard outdoors!

Revocycle: Transcend cycling with this moving meditation that works both mind & body

Skogg System: Convert your body’s vulnerabilities into strengths with kettlebells

Studio Blue Pilates: Develop strength and find your center through yoga and Pilates

Xtend Barre: Strengthen, lengthen and chisel your body with dance, ballet & Pilates

Yoga Pod: Rejuvenate your body, refresh your mind and replenish your spirit

ClassPass

Too good to be true?

By now you’re probably wondering, “So what’s the catch here?”

Well, while some question whether or not it’s a sustainable business model, others say ClassPass is worth its weight in gold when it comes to advertising and customer acquisition, especially for new studios looking for traction in a crowded market.

From the consumer perspective, I’ve found it to be an excellent discovery tool — not only for studios I’d never heard of, but also for workouts I may not otherwise have tried. Plus, if you’re like me and like to keep your body confused with all kinds of crazy cross-training without completely emptying your wallet, it can be the best of both worlds.

Wanna check it out?

Here’s a list of the cities in which ClassPass is currently available (if you’re not on it, don’t fret — they’re adding more all the time).

And if you’re ready to take the ClassPass plunge, I can sweeten the deal — simply use this link (good for ANY location but expires tomorrow, 3/24) to sign up and get $25 off your first month!

What’s your take on the “boutique fitness membership” movement?

The Case for Yoga Pants (+ prAna Discount Code!)

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Throughout my high school and college running days, “workout gear” meant — quite literally — anything hanging on by its last thread: extra-large cotton t-shirts, stretched-out tube socks and over-sized shorts with elastic waists, for example. You get picture.

But my attitude changed in 2002 when I bought my first “splurge” item — a Brooks long-sleeved tech shirt — at the Chicago Marathon expo. In a classic rookie move, I wore it for the first time to run 26.2 the next day…but miraculously it performed beautifully in all of its sweat-wicking, non-chafing glory.

That experience forever changed my view of workout gear: No longer were my tops and bottoms merely “something to sweat in;” they became part of my training arsenal — not only to keep me comfortable and to help me perform, but also (occasionally) to be a major motivating factor in getting my butt up and out the door for workouts.

Because, let’s face it, when we look good, we feel good. And when we feel good, we can take on the world. Or at least a 6 a.m. spin class.

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Case in point: When prAna and Fit Approach partnered up last month for the #TakeTheLeap challenge in which we were encouraged to #BringYogaBack for 30 days.

I knew it was going to take a lot more than old fashioned willpower to get myself on the mat throughout the month. Don’t get me wrong — I love yoga — it’s just a challenge being present and working quietly when your default is hard-charging, goal-oriented workouts.

But when prAna sweetened the deal by throwing in an outfit from their new Early Spring collection, I knew we were speaking the same language. If you build it, they will come; it you make it cute (and comfy), they will om.  

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First on my wish list was the Florence Capri in Neon Orange ($79). Because neon orange.

If the color’s not enough to get your heart pitter-pattering, the design will have you swooning. From the flattering wide waistband to the compression Chakara performance fabric to the smooth seams, these pants fit like a second skin — without being overly constrictive.

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And then there’s the Piper Top in Cool Green ($69). I stepped slightly out of my wheelhouse with this one; I’m not usually partial to blousy tops, but sometimes you just need a nice, relaxed drape to skim, rather than squeeze, your stomach.

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Another lovely detail is the drawcord hem; loosen it up for longer coverage, or cinch it up to shorten the length and for added security — aka if you’re not into baring that belly during inversions.

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But my favorite feature that made this pick a no-brainer? The straps!

They’re adjustable, and I’m not just talking about the bra-type sliders. Nope, these babies can be converted from traditional shoulder straps to an X-back for both support and style purposes.

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Mindfully designed. Built to last. And best of all? Available at a discount, just in time to brighten up your wardrobe for spring! Use KineticFix’s special code (psps15KF) at checkout for 15% off your entire order.

Happy shopping — and sweating, friends!