For many exercisers, their favorite workout class isn't offered at the gym. It's streaming on one of the thousands of YouTube fitness channels and delivered onto their TV, smartphone or tablet.
YouTube doesn't keep official stats on how many videos are tagged “fitness” but the company reported that last year, viewers watched 5,500 years-worth of yoga videos alone. That’s double the number from the previous year, according to the company.
The more popular YouTube fitness stars have millions of subscribers and hundreds of thousands of hits per video. Viewers are attracted by their convenience and their low cost, said Carol Garber, a professor of movement science at Columbia University, but they should proceed with caution.
“A lot of what’s out there is being done by people with no formal training and they may not be giving you a workout that’s safe,” she said.
A buff body isn’t enough of a credential, Garber noted. At a minimum, your video instructor should hold a reputable fitness certification, as do the instructors who lead workouts for the five popular fitness channels highlighted below.
Jessica Smith Fitness
Smith is a bestselling DVD fitness star who started seriously posting YouTube content about a year ago. To date, the certified fitness instructor has logged over 13 million views. Two of her most viewed videos, low-impact walking and lower body exercises for people with bad knees, are the reason beginners love her.
This channel lists hundreds of full-length workouts of every conceivable type, starring the husband-and-wife certified instructor team Daniel and Kelli Segar. All of their content is free with no ads or commercial interruptions. Their channel is closing in on two million subscribers. Videos garner half a million views or more every week.
Besides its free YouTube postings, brand new upstart Acacia TV offers low-cost, unlimited streaming workouts featuring everything from gentle yoga to high-intensity boot camp. It’s building a steady viewer base thanks to high-quality production and robust community support from its team of certified instructors on Facebook.
Cassey Ho is super cute and she’s also a certified fitness instructor with a degree in biology. With more than two million channel subscribers, viewers flock by the thousands to each of her signature “POP Pilates” video workouts that showcase traditional Pilates moves set to top 40 style tunes.
Czech beauty Zuzka Light has attracted more than 300,000 YouTube channel subscribers. Every video this blonde bombshell posts gathers hundreds of thousands of hits, often within hours. She is a certified kettle bell instructor but also leads a wide variety of other workouts.