Although I have frequent meetings and commitments out of the house, I have found working from home to be even more sedentary than working at an office. I don’t hustle around to other peoples’ cubes or meet colleagues for lunch across campus. I just sit. And write. And sit some more. While writing. So since the day I became self-employed, I’ve made sure to carve out some time for exercise each day. My preference is to take a brisk walk around my neighborhood while listening to podcasts or books.
HOWEVER. My personal temperature threshold is -10, and last winter passed that mark many, many times. So I started looking around for workout videos I could do in my living room on days when it was so cold outside that my eyelashes froze together. I tried a couple of the store-bought DVD systems and found them to be pretty dull as ongoing fitness tools, and a bit too focused on “getting thin and sexy” or “losing weight fast!” for my taste. Which led me to YouTube. Which led me to Jessica Smith.
Smith has an extremely popular channel with dozens of videos – all of them free – at a variety of skill levels and covering the gamut of fitness topics. She posts a new video each week, including full 30-minute workout routines, shorter workouts for those in a hurry, and a few single-exercise demo videos. She’s developed a walking/weight loss program that she sells on DVD, but never hits her YouTube subscribers with the hard sell. Her channel is a robust and valuable resource.
But the real reason I love Jessica Smith? She never harps on getting thin or losing weight as the obvious end-goals, she clearly enjoys making these videos, and she is meticulous about offering modifications for anyone who needs them. She jokes and encourages and talks you through every movement patiently and carefully. She emphasizes the importance of stretching and talks frequently about avoiding new injuries and accommodating existing ones. Her videos are clear and easy to follow, but pretty low-fi – they’re all filmed at her house, which is probably an intentional choice meant to illustrate that anyone can work out at home in a room with some clear space. And the white French bulldog in her banner is Peanut, her dog, who wanders in and out of most videos. Or just sleeps on her mat the entire time. If you’re a sucker for animals like I am, this is a delightful bonus.
On her website and channel, Smith says, “Our goal is to help you find movement that you enjoy (and actually want to keep doing) so you’ll never have to ‘work’ out another day in your life! You won’t find any crazy exercises, revealing outfits or negative energy here; just common sense fitness, advice and support from a friend and certified fitness professional (and her French bulldog).” Some of her video titles focus on weight loss, sculpting, and other concepts that circle around thinness – likely for SEO reasons – but her banter and narration are always neutral or even body-image-friendly. I’ve never heard her harp on the importance of a bikini body, describe anything as a quick/easy route to getting thin, or say anything that set off beauty-standard alarm bells.
I’ve actually kept up with the videos through the year, adding them to my daily walks and exploring a variety of routines and topics to keep the boredom at bay. When my back is acting up I choose from her knee- and back-friendly workout playlist. When I’m in a rush, I choose a 10- or 15-minute targeted workout. If you can’t afford a gym or can’t motivate yourself to go, if fitness classes make you self-conscious, or if you only have a few minutes a day to yourself, peek at Jessica Smith TV and see if you can find a video or two that suit your needs.
**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.