Making a workout video is easy. Making one that doesn’t assault the eyes and ears of the masses is another story altogether. Any goof in shorts with an iPhone can make a video in the basement. But when it all comes out in the wash, quality matters. This is probably why companies like Beachbody have such a following while others struggle to grab a piece of the fitness video market share.
Now you can watch some video on YouTube but more often that not they reek of poor production and trainers with bad communication skills. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a free option that could pass for a professional package?
Kids, that’s what I’m here to find out. And that’s why I’m going to try a series of free online fitness programs to separate the diamonds from the turds. First up is the 8 week STRONGER CHALLENGE by Livestrong and hosted by former pro soccer player and celebrity trainer, Nicky Holender.
WHAT YOU GET:
The program consists of 10 workouts freely viewed from YouTube or from the Livestrong website. Livestrong offers plenty of online services such as meal plans, calorie counters, and fitness logs to keep track of your progress. Most of it is free and as such will likely only serve to supply Skynet with your detailed physical records in the event humans must be harvested for meat.
Time: 32 minutes
FIRE is a HIIT ( high intensity, interval training ) workout designed to do the most damage in half an hour. I advise cross trainer shoes as there is a lot of fast lateral movement. The format is 9 drills, each containing a cardio ( 60 sec ),hold ( 20 sec ) and HIIT ( 30 sec )sequence.
First impressions are positive. The initial exposure to Nicky’s extreme English accent hits hard at first, but I found myself growing accustomed to it quickly enough. That combined with the hair and I was half expecting him to yell “HALLLOW GOV-NAH!” and peddle Marmite instead of Shakeology. Because that’s obviously what bloaks across the pond do.
The STRONGER CHALLENGE immediately has a look to it that rivals even the choicest offerings of higher end fitness packages. It has good camera work, decent music and professional choice in sets.
Speaking of locations, if it seems familiar then congratulations, your cognitive memory is running on all cylinders. It’s the same set as Shaun T’s Hip Hob Abs and Diamond Dallas Page Yoga. Thankfully we get to avoid shaking our booty to hip hop and opt instead to workout with our dignity intact.
Time: 34 minutes
Body weight will be your weapon of choice today and the target is head to toe. There are 3 blocks of 4 moves each that run though upper body, lower, cardio and abs. Each exercise is a 20 second interval.
I appreciate that the warm-ups are slow and steady as opposed to going balls-to-the-wall the moment play it pressed. It makes this a more universal package instead of appealing only to hardcore enthusiasts.
Time: 36 minutes
According to Nicky, this is his “Best of” collection of plyo, HIIT and strength. It is comprised of 6 blocks of 4 exercises each. Cardio ( 60 seconds ), HIIT ( 30 sec ), recovery ( 20 sec ) and strength ( 60 sec ). This will target your speed and agility skills with glorious precision.
Time: 42 minutes
Stretch out with some low intensity cardio. Refuel targets joint mobility with 1 minute range-of-motion followed by brief isometric posture, then 1 minute of low impact cardio. It’s a pleasant alternative to a yoga workout.
Time: 32 minutes
This is a plyometics style workout. 8 exercises that have three 20 second components: load, explode, and reload. You will repeat twice before moving on. An example would be first doing standard push ups, then plyo push-ups followed by a ballistic stretch.
Time: 34 minutes
Lower impact plyometrics and cardio workout on par with T25. 10 blocks consisting of 60 seconds of cardio, 20 seconds of control, 30 HIIT, and finally reloading before moving on.
Time: 38 minutes
Steel targets all body parts: upper, lower, abs and cardio. 3 blocks with that focus on each will be done 4x before moving to the next block. Nicky uses a towel for many moves and resistance bands would work just as well.
The cardio here is not some wimpy running on the spot stuff either. A round of Double Walk-Out Push-ups will make that abundantly clear. Combined with ISO holds that take advantage of your body weight, this could easily sub for a T25 Beta round.
Time: 35 minutes
This total body workout from Nicky pummels you with 6 blocks consisting of 4 exercises per block that go after cardio, HIIT, recovery and strength. Warrior demands digging down and finding that strength to get through some monster moves. The audio track is a bit repetitive here, but still gets a pass.
Time: 40 minutes
All about mobility and some low impact cardio. There’s not a whole lot of difference between this and REFUEL except you do some isometric postures to get some balance work in. Nicky also passes on advice from a wise sage such as “if there’s dolphins in the water there’s no sharks…if there’s a seal get out because it’s diner time.” What dolphins and seals have to do with anything that’s going on I have no idea.
Time: 31 minutes
Think you’re a hot potato because you can pull off Tony’s Plyo X? Nicky will humble your sorry backside with Explosion. 8 exercises with 20 seconds each of loading, plyo, and active recovery done twice. Easy enough right? Wait, did I forget to say all of the jumping is on one leg?
Squats roll into jumps. Push ups roll into plyo-style. Agony turns to white spots in your vision. Explosion surpasses even the difficulty of some Max 30 workouts due to the concentrated punishment.
Honestly, how this is free and steaming turds like Brazil Butt Lift will charge you actual money is a mystery on par with Stonehenge. The production and value blows away so many who charge prices in the $100 range and that includes major players like Beachbody.
Nicky Holdender as a trainer is a good motivator and is easy to listen to once you get accustomed to the strong British accent and punk-appearance. He’s not a revolving door of jokes like Tony Horton but also not a stone-cold Vulcan like GSP in Rushfit. He exhibits a sense of humor that never goes over the line and follows up with regular motivation, even though he sometimes repeats a few fitness catch phrases a bit much.
The cast too is shockingly normal. They smile, but at the same time they are not like other videos where the cast is grinning so hard you swear the Joker hit them with his Smilex-gas. Usually there are three people doing the regular moves and there is always one modifier for beginners which is a nice touch.
If someone asks me if there is a low cost/free entry option into fitness videos, STRONGER is a no-brainer choice with zero downsides. It’s free folks. I would recommend this for those who like T25 or P90X3. Even better, use it as a hybrid. It is a flexible, no cost addition to your workout library.