There is always an excuse to not go to the gym: There's not enough time. It costs too much money. The gym can be intimidating.
Fitness magazines can be helpful, but for those who don't know a burpee from a Bosu ball, or a half-crow from a happy baby, sometimes, showing and telling are necessary.
"It's really hard to know how to do an exercise or what the form is going to look like just using words or pictures, so the video is so much more helpful to see what you're actually going to be doing," said Abby Lerner, senior Web editor of Shape.com.
For a low cost, or no cost at all, these websites offer streaming workout videos that can be used anywhere there's Internet access.
A recent redesign of the Shape website lead to the inclusion of a workout builder. Just as one can create a playlist on an iPod or other digital music device, the workout builder allows users to create custom fitness routines by dragging video selections into a list. Shape fitness director Jeanine Detz has also compiled preset routines for those who don't wish to customize.
"We can help you choose those exercises, or you can do it yourself," said Lerner. "This is for people who don't want to spend the time or money on a trainer to make sure they're doing the moves right."
Lerner said she has enjoyed taking advantage of videos accompanying feature articles.
"I think every single workout description should have either a video on the page or a link to a video," she said.
It's not exactly Facebook for fitness, but SparkPeople does provide social-networking opportunities for people who wish to improve their health. There's even a message board called Chattanooga Chew Chew. The site also includes a selection of free workout videos, like an 11-minute cardio chair routine that can be done at a desk (if you don't mind co-workers seeing you make arm movements that look like something out of "Saturday Night Fever"). Videos range from about five to 20 minutes, and include both exercises that can be done alone or with equipment.
The Self workout builder allows site visitors to select a series of moves, which can be compiled into a custom workout. A second selection of videos offers brief samplings. Some of the videos demonstrate simple maneuvers, while others offer helpful tips for working out while traveling or getting started with outdoor exercise.
Florida-based personal trainer Franklin Antoian said he began iBodyFit about six years ago to bring fitness to a larger audience.
"I established the website to bring good, solid, science-based fitness information to everyone," he said. "When I train [clients], it's about $100 to $125 a hour in someone's home. Most people can't afford that."
iBodyFit has two options: The $12.95 Premium annual membership gives users access to online video classes, iPod downloads and fitness calculators. The PremiumPlus membership, at $99 a month, connects a client with a personal trainer with whom he or she can communicate to form a personally tailored fitness plan. There is a 30-day free trial to try the first option.
Antoian said clients can choose workout videos based on available equipment, level of fitness, type of activity or trainer.
For beginner and more advanced yogis alike, a series of videos from YogaJournal.com allows users to choose based on experience level, length of video and types of practice. The videos take place in a very simple setting, in a yoga studio, with either a single individual and a narrator, or one teacher and one demonstrator. The instruction is clear to those not familiar with yoga terminology and focuses on the movement of the body and the breath rather than on spiritual reflection.
Netflix Instant View users can spend thousands of hours streaming movies and television shows over the Internet. However, there is another advantage to the approximately $8.75 cost per month: fitness videos. Brand workouts, such as Crunch Fitness and 10 Minute Solution, are available. Options range from dance videos to healing yoga to toning Pilates. There's a prenatal yoga video and an abdominal series featuring Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino from the MTV show "Jersey Shore."