Oh yeah, it's not 2014 anymore...

Penguin Calendar

Yesterday I looked at the penguin wall calendar in my apartment that was displaying the month of December and realized, oh yeah, it's not 2014 anymore! And it was time to put up the new 2015 penguin calendar! Let me explain...

My boyfriend loves penguins and has had a penguin wall calendar since I've known him. It's become somewhat of a ritual for us to flip the page to the next month together, and we are always excited to see the new penguin photo that will display for the followiing few weeks.

So with 2015 underway, and officially marked by the changing of the penguin calendar, it's time to take note of those inevitable resolutions you made to get in shape, lose weight, eat healthier, and so on. For most people this often means relunctantly joining a gym, which can be an intimidating step to take, especially if it's been a while since you've worked out or used excercise equipment.

I've been in the situation where I've purchased an annual gym membership but ended up wasting money because I never ended up going. And after weeks and months of never stepping foot in the gym, I was too embarassed and afraid to cancel my membership (which had you to do in person, of course). I let my self-consciousness and fear of judgment get the better of me, but I did learn my lesson, albeit the hard way.

I have since decided that if I wanted to stay in shape and healthy, I was going to do so by doing whatever activity that first and foremost I was comfortable with and secondly, I enjoyed--because if I didn't like doing something, I knew I would never stick with it. So for anyone who's not ready to hit the gym as part of their New Year's resolution to get fit, I wanted to share my little workout secret:

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I know, I know... YouTube isn't exactly a secret. BUT navigating YouTube to find the right content and channels that feature legit fitness experts (I'm talking professionally certified people) with fun and appropriately challenging workout videos can definitely prove to be a challenge, if not initimidating, for some.

As a self-proclaimed expert in working out at home, I thought I'd share my favorite YouTube workouts and other resources with you. I've been working out at home with YouTube for almost four years and I love it! It works great for me, especially now, when I'm scrimping and saving as a newly self-employed person. I don't use YouTube exclusively in my fitness efforts though, I also try to make myself venture outdoors for a walk or hike and even grab a friend to take advantage of any new yoga studios with "first time for free" classes.

Anyways, below are my Top 3 fitness YouTube channels and my favorite go-to workouts. I hope you'll find them as helpful as I have!

#1 Jessica Smith TV

Jessica Smith is a great place to start or continue with your workout goals. She's a certified personal trainer, fitness instructor, and wellness coach with more than 15 years of experience. You may have seen Jessica before from her DVDs or from ExerciseTV (the now defunct digital TV channel).

Jessica Smith TV is the first, and sometimes the only, YouTube channel I go to for my daily exercise goals. Jessica is not only encouraging and enthusiastic (in a non-annoying way), but she works out with you and consistently reminds you about proper technique (again, in a non-annoying way). And the highlight of all her videos are cameos from her utterly adorable French bulldog, Peanut. I love seeing Peanut in the videos, she always lightens my mood and makes me happy during workouts, and that's pretty awesome.

#2 Fitness Blender

Fitness Blender features a little more regimented videos from husband and wife team, Daniel & Kelli. Daniel has worked in the fitness industry since 2000 and has a degree in Food and Nutrition, Kelli has worked in the fitness industry since 2006 and has degrees in both Psychology and Sociology.

Again, they workout along with you at Fitness Blender. I don't about you, but I always feel a little better when the super in-shape person I'm working out with is sweating and panting just as much as I am, that's what I call fit-spiration! Anyways, they have more than 350 full-length videos featuring a variety of strength-training, cardio, HIIT, and Yoga videos. Their videos often include a warm-up and cool down as well as an on-screen timer, rep counter, and track estimated calories burned. Check out their website for more information.

#3 Tone It Up

Tone It Up feature shorter toning or cardio/toning videos that are generally run 20 minutes or less. Tone It Up has great seasonal challenges, like the Frisky Fall Challenge and an annual Bikini Series, with videos and printable workout calendars available on the website. Tone It Up was founded by Karena Dawn & Katrina Hodgsen. Karena is Personal Trainer, Lifestyle Coach ASFA, NESTA and Triathlete; Katrina is Personal Trainer, Lifestyle Coach NASM, AFAA and has a B.S. in Health Science.

Compared to Jessica Smith TV and Fitness Blender, the Tone It Up channel definitely lacks in actual workout videos. But Karena & Katrina have created a wonderful community around their brand with members that are truly encouraging and supportive of each others goals. Plus, the Tone It Up videos pack a punch for a quick workout when you're short on time.

MY FAVORITE GO-TO WORKOUTS THAT ARE ALSO FUN! (because having fun helps you stick with it) *click on the images to view videos*

Zumba/Latin Dance Aerobic Workout (50 min.)

If you love zumba or dance, you're going to love this! Plus, you can't beat the accent :)

Cardio Groove & Burn Workout by ExerciseTV (30 min.)

Another fun dance workout! Jennifer Galardi is a dynamic instructor and she has a dance background, which I love. You may not feel like you're doing a workout with this video, but you'll definitely feel the groove & burn!

Pump It Up Ultimate Dance Workout 2004 (1 hr, 17 mins.) Yes, all my favorite go-to videos are going to be dance related. Don't let the 80s leotards from this 2004 video or the super model instructor give you the wrong idea. This. Is. Hard. Don't take my word for it though, try it yourself and see if you can make it all the way through on the first try.

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