I really enjoy researching the relatively new series on the blog called Free Workout Fridays. There are so many free workouts available! It seems that as the popularity of infographics and Pinterest has grown, exercise lists have become an art form. Some workouts require no additional equipment. Some require dumbbells, or other at-home equipment. Some are for CrossFit enthusiasts, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). In addition to workout lists and graphics, there are e-books and videos. Whatever exercise system or terminology you enjoy, there are probably quite a few free workouts out there to try.
With all this free information available, why should you ever pay for a gym membership, or an expensive set of workout DVDs such as P90X or Jillian Michaels Body Revolution? Why even spend $10 or less on a DVD like Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 or Bob Harper’s Inside Out Method series?
What’s missing in the free workouts?
As I said in my review of Free Workouts on Pinterest, you have to be careful when selecting a workout when you don’t know who designed it, and the level of difficulty is not clearly explained. A list of exercises does not demonstrate proper form. Improper exercise form can lead to injury! So the downside of a free workout might be a lack of clear instructions and alternative (safer, easier) exercises.
What do you get for your money?
Well-structured and produced videos (or exercise books) are often packaged as a “fitness program” which includes exercises for several weeks, increasing in difficulty, and a progressive diet plan with several phases. Several companies such as Beachbody, or celebrity trainers like Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, provide even more support through their online communities and tools. (It should be noted that several of the free workout sites, such as BodyRock.tv, offer this as well, to a lesser degree.)
What’s the difference between the inexpensive DVDs (less than $10 for Bob Harper, as an example), and the pricier options like P90X or Jillian Michaels Body Revolution (currently about $120 each)? To be fair, the boxed set “workout systems” usually include 10-12 DVDs, a diet guide, and other goodies like a workout calendar, resistance band, etc. The price per DVD averages about $10 each. These are carefully designed exercise and diet programs (60 or 90 days, for example). Most bargain DVDs and free websites don’t provide all that. One more benefit of purchasing a “workout system” is the shared experience with thousands of people who have completed it, are doing it right now with you in that online community, or will start after you, so you can become their support system.
On the other hand, some of those low-cost DVDs are a great bargain when you’re looking for a challlenging workout that might not have all the bells and whistles of P90X or Body Revolution (subtitles describing each exercise, countdown timers, separate audio tracks to add/remove music or dialogue). This is the “sweet spot” that provides the visual demonstrations and alternative exercises the free workouts might lack. (I really like Bob Harper’s Inside Out Method series for this reason, even though I have no idea what is “inside out” about it!)
To pay, or not to pay?
As you can see from the blog, I use a variety of workouts, from the free ones all the way up to P90X, Insanity, and Body Revolution. Each one has its time and place in my workout schedule. Free workouts can be handy when traveling without fitness equipment, or even at the office for a quick exercise break. You can even try P90X as a “free workout” if you can decipher the workout sheets. (But save up your pennies like I did, so you can bring Tony Horton into your home on DVD!)
You should pay for a workout when you are starting a new type of exercise (such as weightlifting, or yoga), to get proper visual instruction, or if you want to challenge yourself. (It’s funny how many times I have heard P90X “graduates” talk about their uncertainty when it comes to trying Insanity, or vice versa. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge!)
If this blog post has helped you decide to purchase one of the workouts mentioned, please consider using the affiliate links to advertisers on this page. Your purchase will support the blog at no additional cost to you. Thanks!