The best thing about watching OITNB while working out is that you can pay as much or as little attention to what’s going as you want. Since the whole show is basically set up as vignettes, concentrating on planking is fairly easy during the parts you’re not as into. Plus, there’s enough dark humor and WTF scenarios to keep you thoroughly entertained the whole time. I did a mix of floor-work exercises while watching this show—everything from planks and squats to mountain climbers, split squats, pushups, and jogging in place.
One move that was perfectly suited to TV time was Robbins’ Bari-reccomended “side-lying leg lifts,” which work the outer thigh and butt. The only real difference between these and lying on your side on the couch is that you’re toning your gams while doing so. Technically, you could even do these on the couch, instead of on the floor, but that might entice you to also start munching on a bowl of popcorn and then you’re back to square one.
“Start by lying on one side with your bottom leg bent and your top leg straight out (roll back slightly so you are lying on the muscle and not directly on your hip bone),” she tells me. “Then lift and lower your top leg with your foot flexed and knee and toe facing forward. In the same position, kick your top leg straight in front of you and then back at a diagonal.” Repeat as many times as you want until your leg gives out, or the episode ends.
The other positive about watching OITNB if you’re a true fan is you’ll want to keep watching (marathon style) because you won’t be able to handle waiting to see what happens next—a.k.a. you can work out for long periods of time and set your own pace, which is great for less intense, leisurely workouts, like on a Sunday.
Ranking: 6 out of 10
I have to be honest…I’ve never watched Gilmore Girls…cue the gasps! Although everyone I know is pretty much obsessed with this cult ‘aughts favorite, I just never got it. With that said, working out to Lorelai and Rory’s family drama is a piece of cake. (Ugh and now I want cake, but back to fitness.)
Why? Turns out it’s kind of boring (SORRY! Don’t hate me!), so it was nice to have a distraction. Working out to a show I’m obsessed with would never actually make sense because I would stop to full-on invest myself two minutes in.
For this one, I tried one of my go-tos at-home: ChaiseFitness has four 20-minute videos called Chaise on the Go that you can easily have playing on the side, while watching Netflix. Or, you can watch one first to get the hang of what you’re supposed to do, then press play on your episode. All you need is a Thera-Band and a dining room chair.
Because all four videos are Pilates-based and low impact, they’re safe to do at home without in-person instruction. One of the easiest moves to do is triceps knee marches (they’re awesome for your triceps, glutes, and core). Hold on to the edge of a chair with your elbows bent. Keep your feet out away from the chair with knees bent at a 90-degree angle (your butt should be level with your knees) and march your right knee upward as you extended your arms and lower back down to starting position. Alternate right and left for 20 reps with a rest in between, for two complete sets.
Ranking: 7 out of 10
You don’t need a lot of equipment—or any at all—to get fit. Check out these 19 bodyweight exercises:
Let’s be serious: If there was ever motivation to break a sweat in front of the TV, it would be Blake Lively’s legs. The main factor that keeps your eyes glued to the tube when Gossip Girl is on is that everyone looks like a supermodel. So, you’re automatically inclined to try harder. People also tend to hook up with each other a lot and, well, that can also lead to 50 more crunches at any given time because who doesn’t want to look good naked, #amiright?
I did a mix of jumping jacks, running in place, and various plank moves, before switching over to the abs: situps, bicycle crunches, lower abs leg lifts, and abs pulse-ups, then I downed three glasses of water, mainly because I was thirsty and also because I was fixated on how hot Chace Crawford looked. (Speed up your progress towards your weight-loss goals with Women’s Health’s Look Better Naked DVD.)
Ranking: 10 out of 10
The major benefit of working out to a sci-fi drama is that it’s easy to get your heart pumping—quickly. Unlike Gilmore Girls, I live for Stranger Things. Anyone who doesn’t get it? I don’t know you. Winona Ryder is brilliant, Milly Bobby Brown as Eleven = everything, and Barb? Love her. Since I need to be aware of everything going on, selecting moves was slightly trickier for this show. Anything on your back, on a mat works. Anything involving fast movements like jumping jacks and running in place also works (time those to fingernail-biting suspense scenes) and anything else that basically doesn’t block your view of the screen works as well, like arm exercises (dumbbell curls, chair dips, boxing, etc). I might just have to binge watch/workout to season two when it comes out.
Ranking: 9 out of 10
Naturally, some of these shows are well-suited to gym workouts, too. Just ask Crunch Gym’s director of group fitness strategy & development, Brookelyn Suddell. “I often use shows to get through my cardio sessions—they distract me and help me keep time, i.e. when the show’s done, so am I,” she says. “My recommendation would be to watch something funny. Laughing helps to further engage your abs and core.” She recommends alternating between a fast walk and light jog if you’re on the treadmill—and using commercial breaks for sprint intervals, too. I chose Friends for my cardio workouts on the treadmill and the time flew by.
Suddell also suggested I take my Netflix habit to the stairmill. “I love this because the stairmill is SUPER tough and TV keeps my mind off of my burning legs and booty,” she says. (Um, she’s 100 percent right about that.) “First I pick a pace that I can sustain for an extended period of time (45-ish minutes) and I alternate between single steps and skip-a-step with glute kick-backs. During the mini-commercials I do sprints (20 to 30 seconds).”
While glute kick-backs and sprints were a bit advanced for me, I will say watching something comedic while on the stairmill is 1,000 times better than just listening to music or watching the news.
Ranking: 8 out of 10
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