Believe it or not, you don’t have to join a gym to get in shape and stay that way. Before I joined a gym, I exercised in my living room every day for five years. I never wanted membership at a public gym. I can be myself at home and even goof around, which makes for a more enjoyable workout. I also tend to train harder in privacy (grunting and ugly faces of strain are allowed). At a gym, since it’s a public place, some people, like myself, find it uncomfortable, and time doesn’t necessarily make this go away. Thankfully, public gym membership is optional for many goals. If you simply want to improve your health, get lean, get toned, have a swimmer’s build, etc… you can attain that at home. Best of all, home training is often the cheapest option, and if you’re a broke single parent, that might be a deciding factor in not joining a gym. Below are some excellent home workout video series, online video courses, and books that are effective and informative to guide your goals. The trainers and coaches below will work you out, while teaching you about the exercise, so you know what you’re doing and why.
For General Fitness – $0
PopSugar Fitness – $0: top trainers from elite fitness studios head the free — yes, free — exercise classes in the PopSugar fitness library. So long as you have internet, a computer or Roku, AppleTV, an Amazon Fire Stick, or any other video streaming service, you should be able to gain access to PopSugar and its free, on-demand fitness videos. Workout selections vary from the relative low intensity of a yoga routine, like the Get Long and Lean With CorePower Yoga workout, to the high-intensity of a Tabata-Style HIIT Workout. Many exercise styles are available for whatever your goal or mood is. If I’m feeling lazy or wiped out from a week of high-intensity strength workouts, I’ll finish the week with the Bring the Heat With This Country Dance Workout.
For a Body Built by Calisthenic Strength (Specialized Fitness) $-$$
Body Bible – $: By British Olympic Gymnast, Nile Wilson: Learn gymnastics at any age in your home. The main equipment you need is your body, so this course is cheap in that sense. Price options can also be affordable, ranging from $7-$20. The British pound is currency the course is offered in. However, in the world of the internet, that’s hardly a barrier. Remember, Nile is an Olympian!
Gymnastic Bodies – $$: Getting fancy now. Learn gymnastics in your living room, at your pace, with this online course library created by elite gymnastics coach, Coach Sommers. This course is tailored like the gymnastics routines a first-time gymnast would follow at a local gymnastics studio. No corners are cut, no skill is skipped over, and no gains should be missed with this diligent course. The catch is, courses are between $99-$500.
Overcoming Gravity – $: This book was written and compiled by coach and former gymnast, Steve Low. Like taking notes? Better yet, like having words you can reference to aid you on your bodyweight strength or gymnastics goals? Overcoming Gravity is an excellent choice — and a cheap one compared with the hundreds of dollars you can potentially spend on the Gymnastic Bodies and Body Bible online courses. This book is currently $45 on Amazon, and cheaper, used copies can be found.
Complete Calisthenics – $: Here is another book that is a hell of a lot cheaper than purchasing one of the two above online gymnastics courses. I have not read it yet, but it is nearly 5-star rated. The current purchase price is $16 on Amazon, and can be bought cheaper used.
For Flexibility & Tone – $$
Amazon instant video yoga options. The videos below are free to you all year long if you’re an Amazon Prime member. Membership is currently $119/year.
Article initially published on May 5, 2015 - Updated and republished on June 7, 2018
MEET SYLVIA PETRO — THE BROKE, FIT SINGLE MOM: As an athlete of over 15 years, and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created this site to aid not only broke single parents to a life of fitness, but anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the road to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; informing readers about mastering both of those building blocks is my goal.