The Champagne Life on a DIY Budget Since 2007

Goodbye Gym, Hello On-Demand

exercise on demand for free

I used to be really fit. As in, hit the gym for 5:30 a.m. aerobics and weight training before work fit. As in, submitted my photos to Shape Magazine for a reader contest fit. (Only sort of as a joke). As in, swam hard-core laps several times a week right up until the day before I gave birth fit.

Then, of course, I gave birth and everything changed. At first, things were looking good. I was one of the lucky ones for whom nursing and constant babywearing (my daughter was happiest in a sling, being walked in endless loops through the neighborhood) dissolved my pregnancy weight within weeks. Then when I stopped nursing—but kept up the same eating habits—I started to develop a little of that dreaded muffin top.

So, I started experimenting. I joined a gym but ultimately left because the prices were exorbitant, plus when I left academia, the gym no longer was on a convenient path to and from work. I tried drop-in yoga classes, but hated paying $12 to $15 per class to attempt to find my inner yogi in sardine-like conditions (all mats needed to be aligned to floor markers where the mats were mere inches apart). I tried home exercise DVDs but got bored with the repetition.

And then this month, I discovered Exercise TV On Demand from Comcast; fitness programming included free with our cable service. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the options but there’s plenty to choose from; everything from aerobics to Pilates to yoga to dance. Plus, with separate categories organized by celebrity routine (if, for example, you wish to get fit with Carmen Electra, or live out your Biggest Loser fantasy with Jillian Michaels) or target a specific area (e.g., the quest for the elusive 6-pack). I have, in fact, been challenged; my favorite combination the last few rounds has been 45 minutes of yoga fitness fusion plus 20 minutes of abs. This routine leaves me barely mobile the following day.

As someone who is familiar with fitness terminology and choreography flow (say, I can listen to instructions and not worry about watching the TV to learn the moves), and who actually likes the solitary exercise scenario, Exercise TV On Demand totally works for me. In addition to the fact that the programming doesn’t cost extra above our regular cable service, I love that the workouts are awaiting my use at any time, the available options are swapped out regularly to prevent boredom, and the segments are challenging enough to make this former fitness guru suffer happily. Most importantly, amidst my very busy days, I welcome the fact that this programming makes it that much easier for me to take the time to breathe, re-center, and give myself the gift of personal care before getting back to the demands of work and family life.

To quick-start your personalized Exercise TV workout, check out this editor’s favorite segments:

Jillian Michaels Biggest Loser Workouts

Carmen Electra Fit2Strip

Angie Stewart Yoga Fitness Fusion

Cindy Whitmarsh Abs

Story: Copyright 2008, Shoestring LLC and Christine Koh. Image: iStock.