A run on Brooklyn’s crowded Eastern Parkway would feel euphoric after days living like a hermit in my apartment, but it’s not worth the feelings of anxiety that inevitably come after: Who breathed on me? Whose spittle particles did I just whip my face into? What was on the door handles I touched? And does this totally reset my quarantine day count? (Plus, I really should have stretched before I left.) I need something that will get my heart rate up for exactly 20 minutes and require no equipment or outside space whatsoever — just the six feet of carpet between the couch and the TV.
Thank the lord for YouTube. Ten seconds of scrolling, and voila: everything I need to not feel like a piece of shit until I get back in my desk chair and gorge on gorp some more.
To that end, I think HIIT might be my salvation. High-intensity interval training looks easy, but after five minutes, I’m winded and sweating and my midsection feels like it’s gone through a meat grinder.
This one has jumping jacks and squats, lunges, planks and leg raises, mountain climbers and burpees, and far too many crunches. The instructor’s name is Maddie Lymburner (limb burner! I love an aptonym!), a Canadian who also does some vegan vlogging too. It seems like her “MadFit” channel dominates search results on YouTube, because I’m not the only one on staff who found it. How is Lymburner so good at search-engine optimization? How does she keep her plants so green and fresh? How is she able to build muscle so effectively on a vegan diet? How is anyone’s core strong enough to pull off this routine? Life is full of mysteries.
But don’t just follow my lead. Here are other YouTube workouts my colleagues are sweating it out to as they’re locked away from the rest of the world (and their gyms).
“Welcome to 8-Minute Abs”
Quinn Myers, Staff Writer: There is only one series of workout videos you need, and it debuted in 1995 on VHS. That series is Jamie Brenkus’ 8-Minute Abs, and it’s perfect. 8-Minute Abs is arguably the very first incremental at-home workout series ever, which makes everything else on this list a ripoff. Now, I’m not just saying this to be cute, 8-Minute Abs will legitimately whip your ass (or, I guess, abs). In fact, stop what you’re doing right this moment and do it. You have eight minutes and a floor, don’t you?
I know what I speak of because I’ve done other home workout videos, too. Just last week, for example, I tried CorePower Yoga, and it sucked. I didn’t know half the moves, I was sliding all over the place, and jogging in place is demoralizing nonsense that only makes your downstairs neighbors hate you even more. So just dive into the 8-Minute Abs series. Start with your abs, then do arms, and finally, buns. I promise, as a relatively in-shape person, I’ve never woken up more sore than after a good eight-minute ab sesh.
Magdalene Taylor, Editorial Assistant: I’m not trying to leave quarantine ripped. My purpose for exercising right now is simply to ensure my blood doesn’t coagulate from spending an entire month on my couch. So, to give myself a little sense of routine and a slight boost in my heart rate, I’ve been doing 10-minute workout videos as soon as I wake up a few mornings a week.
The standing barre workout above gets me sweaty enough to feel like I’ve accomplished something, which, again, is all I’m really looking for at this time. Barre is also ideal for opening your hips, moving your waist in ways you didn’t realize were possible and offering a taste of the militance of ballet. This video also includes modifications and advanced options, something I think is important to keep people returning — because if anything about a YouTube workout feels confusing or totally unachievable, I’m inclined to give up out of frustration.
Afterward, I like to do a few targeted exercises. This other decade-old video (from a time when we could maybe still believe Kim Kardashian’s ass was real) has serious “Doctors HATE This One Weird Trick” vibes to it, but I swear on my life, it’s at least partially why I’ve been called a PAWG (phat-ass white girl).
“Denise Austin: Ultimate Fat Burn Workout”
Lauren Vinopal, Staff Writer: As an aspiring hot teen in the mid-2000s, I stole my mom’s Denise Austin DVD for toning and tightening abs, buns and thighs, and was an immediate fan of her low-rent Suzanne Somers vibe. So when I moved to New York eight years ago and was too broke for a gym membership or a decent pair of running shoes, I YouTubed my girl Denise and clicked on her most popular video, “Ultimate Fat Burn Workout.”
I didn’t know back then that the workout, which has received more than 9 million views, would be an efficient, effective and entirely embarrassing 20-minute slice of my quaran-routine. As ridiculous as the neon outfits, music and lone man in the back corner of the class all are, my love of this combination of sports drills, aerobics, kick-boxing and ab-sculpting moves isn’t even a little irony poisoned. After all, there’s evidence that smiling during exercise increases efficiency, and exclamations like, “Burn that butter!” are amusing to say the least.
Austin’s naturally breathy tone makes it seem like she’s as out-of-shape as everyone else, and while that’s not even a little bit true, it makes her workout approachable without making it too easy. And she tops it off with enough fun mom energy to make you feel like you’re doing a good enough job to get ice cream afterward.
If this rare relic of 2000s nostalgia isn’t for you, allow me to submit a more modern, 10-minute, no-jumping, fat-burning workout as an alternative. It’s a great combination of exercises for anyone who wants to give their floors, family members or downstairs neighbors a stomping break. I just don’t have the same emotional connection to it.
Walking the Dog to Relaxing Foggy Forest Sounds
Ian Lecklitner, Staff Writer: Actively working out, let alone searching YouTube for workout videos, has been off my radar for quite some time now. Instead, I prefer taking a small puff from my turtle-shaped weed pipe, turning up some relaxing forest sounds and indiscriminately walking around the neighborhood with my dog, allowing the pacifying sounds of rain and thunder to workout my fidgety mind as my pencil legs saunter along. This has been especially helpful lately, as walking my puppo is a great excuse to get outside during quarantine, and the only exercise I do besides frantically typing at my computer. So if the coronavirus cancels walking, expect me to shrivel up into a literal twig, still placated, though, by foggy forest sounds.
“P.E. With Joe Wicks”
Hussein Kesvani, UK/Europe Editor: To understand where the U.K. is in relation to the pandemic, there’s no better person to look to than Joe Wicks. Before COVID-19, he was little more than an extraordinarily hyperactive TV personality who over-enthusiastically made salads and used nondescript adjectives like “bangin’” and “noshin’.” But now, Joe Wicks is our savior — the only person preventing me and tens of thousands of others (especially my middle-age and elderly neighbors) from being one with our couches and consoles.
Wick’s program, as you can probably imagine, is a pretty basic HIIT routine, consisting largely of squats, lunges, sit-ups and burpees. But in true Joe Wicks style, he shouts excitedly about each exercise (“Run, run, run, duck! Get down!”). Initially, I found this irritating — at least, until I realized that Wicks’ program was designed for children.
Since then, though, it’s definitely grown on me. In large part because it’s free (unlike workout programs being offered by most fitness chains) and requires no equipment whatsoever. Better yet, Wicks embraces the awkwardness of it all. He dresses in stupid costumes, he uses bizarre slang and he cheats on his form every so often. Even the camera Wicks’ shoots on is low quality, grainy and lacking the professional lighting of other home-workout routines on YouTube.
In other words, he doesn’t make you feel inadequate. Nor does he try to convince you that you can achieve as much at home as you can at a gym (or with supplements). He basically takes a bare-bones, make-do-with-what-you-got kind of approach — which makes it the perfect quarantine workout.
“5-Minute Butt-Lifting Workout”
Isabelle Kohn, Staff Writer: As someone who spends the majority of my day having my ass flattened into the seat of a non-ergonomic chair by the cruel force of gravity, it’s my sincerest and loftiest hope to emerge from my quarantine pit with a butt so juicy that people think I spent the past three months sheltering in place with a plastic surgeon.
But since I don’t want to try hard or be inconvenienced in any way, I’ve been working toward that goal with what has to be the quickest and easiest workout video that isn’t “Prancercise”: Bailey Brown’s “5-Minute Butt Lifting Workout” (Peach Emoji, Heart Emoji).
I don’t know who Bailey Brown is, and I don’t care to find out. All I know is that this glorious, bubble-butted woman has designed a workout so deliciously brief and offensively lazy that it’s inspired me — a person who considers walking up a hill to be “urban hiking” — to embrace ass fitness as my lord and savior and make exercise a tiny part of my day.
All 300 seconds of her butt-lift procedure are spent on the floor, humping the air in a variety of bridge positions designed to tone and lift different parts of your gluteal region. No weights are required, but I’ve been butt-thrusting with a 10-pound ream of painter’s tape across my hips just to up the ante — and you can bet your sweet ass I’m listening to “Eye of the Tiger” and dreaming about James Garretson while doing so. You can feel the burn in the first 30 or 40 seconds of the routine, and even though it’s only a five-minute ordeal, it’s pretty effective — i.e., I hobble around like it’s my first day walking for hours after I’m done.
Still, I like it so much that I’ve started adding this workout on top of the Nike Training Club videos I’ve shocked myself by doing once or twice a day. It’s an easy warm-up or cool down, and though you look kind of awkward doing it in front of your boyfriend while he stares at you with a confused look that says, “That’s not what painter’s tape is for,” it’s a lot less awkward than laughter yoga, and that’s all that really matters.
“How to Make Green Onion Pancakes”
Jeff Gross, Social Media Editor: As someone who’d much prefer to spend 30 minutes in the middle of the day making the perfect sandwich than doing one of the now thousands of “quarantine workouts“ you can find on YouTube, I highly suggest you ditch the jazzercise videos and opt for a good bread-making video. “Bread?!?” you say. Well, of course! There’s no better time than quarantine time to begin baking, and in case you didn’t know, making bread is a fantastic way to get a good tricep/bicep/forearm workout because, hey, your bread dough isn’t going to knead itself.
Are you a beginner bread-maker and a beginner in the gym? Maybe start with something simple, like Chinese-style scallion pancakes — only five to eight minutes of kneading.
More advanced? Consider making a sourdough — not only will you tone every part of your arms as you sit there working that shaggy ball of flour into a glistening, round, supple dough, you’ll end up with an incredibly deep, rich and complex bread that you can eat when you’re all done. Best quarantine workout you’ll find online as far I’m concerned.