If you’re like me, you may spend some nights deep in a YouTube rabbit hole, going from one topic to another until you’ve wasted hours you could’ve used to catch up on sleep. The amount of content out there can be hard to sift through, especially when it comes to health and fitness. There is a plethora of gyms and trainers out there that are producing some not-so-great or “I can’t believe this is free!” content. With the season changes come new beginnings, and many people are going to be taking steps on their journey to better living. This list of fitness motivation videos & channels will help anyone who wants to access motivational, educational, and reliable fitness content without the anxiety that accompanies a late night click-a-thon through the YouTube rabbit hole!
Channel Judging Criteria
- Frequency of Use: the channels listed below are chosen based on the frequency in which I myself – as well as other fitness professionals and participants – refer back to them. These channels are a staple in my repertoire. Whenever I have a question or need to search how to do anything fitness-related, I’ll look to these channels first.
- Ease of Access: these channels are useful because they are accessible by individuals of any fitness level. The
information is articulated clearly and is put into terms that even a day-one fitness noobie will understand.
- Likability: let’s face it… there’s a lot of people that are hard to like – these aren’t those.
- Subscribers: 6,770,490+
- Videos: 980+
This channel is lead by physical therapist and celebrity strength coach Jeff Cavaliere. At close to 7 million subscribers, it’s one of the most popular fitness channels out there. He focuses on numerous elements of fitness, including diet, mobility, and strength training workouts/exercises. I use this channel when I have clients with muscular imbalances and/or injuries such as knee valgus (knees bowing inward) or bad posture and want to get ideas about how to fix it – or, if possible, work around it.
I like Jeff’s visual approach; he’ll often have an artist draw on him with marker to show where the muscle is and how it moves in relation to the limb or structure it’s attached to. Athlean-X also features a 619-video playlist dedicated just to women called Athlean-XX for Women. This is an all-around great channel for fitness professionals, advanced fitness practitioners, and beginners alike.
Yo Elliott Strength Camp
- Subscribers: 1,834,560+
- Videos: 1,630+
This is one of the first channels I came across after I started adding weightlifting into my fitness routine. Elliott is a former college football player, strongman, and powerlifting athlete who now owns the Strength Camp gym brand, which has twenty locations worldwide and a home base in Florida. His channel’s utility is two-fold. There’s a great segment called “Yo Elliott” where fans will write to him with questions about everything from correct deadlift form to existential concerns. Also featured is the staff of his gym going through specific workouts with athletes of all types. Exercise program design, specific workouts, and proper exercise techniques are all covered on this channel. I find myself going here a lot because I appreciate Elliott’s enthusiasm and his wisdom concerning fitness and exercise. His charisma and knowledge inspire many who aim to become the strongest version of themselves.
Yoga with Adriene
- Subscribers: 4,408,980+
- Videos, 1280+
Yoga is one of the most valuable modalities of exercise both physically and mentally – period. This channel was and still is a great place to look when implementing yoga into my routine. If you’re someone who has never done yoga before, Adriene has the perfect 30-day beginner challenge series that will get you acclimated. With hundreds of videos and 64 different playlists, Adriene’s channel is expansive. Every video is pleasant, highly visual, and serves a specific purpose. There isn’t a lot of fluff on her channel. If you’re someone who isn’t into the mysticism that many yogis base their practice on, then this is the perfect place for you. Most of the videos are pretty straightforward. But if you are looking for that mystic ancient cave yoga, there’s some of that for you as well. My favorite thing about this channel is that it’s something you can do on your own accord. There’s no one watching you practice or judging your poses, it’s simply just a pleasant experience to follow along with Adriene.
- Subscribers: 2,052,150+
- Videos: 1,000+
Don’t let the title of this channel scare you into thinking that it’s a bunch of meatheads doing karate in the garage. The four gentlemen that run fightTIPS are outstanding trainers and practitioners. This is a fantastic place to come if you’re someone with no martial arts experience that wants to start incorporating some boxing or kickboxing into your cardio routine. For the experienced or competition level fighters, it’s an outstanding free source of knowledge that’s sure to add to your fight IQ. They cover everything from kickboxing, boxing, and footwork to wrestling and grappling techniques. I especially appreciate the tutorials on equipment like their double end and heavy bag videos. They often have special guests in their videos to show that the techniques and instruction are interpreted easily for immediate use.
Charisma on Command
- Subscribers: 2,260,120+
- Videos: 250+
This channel does not deal with fitness of the body, but instead focuses on fitness of character and how that helps us build lasting and meaningful relationships or connections. In my own experience, the latter of the two is what’s going to make you someone that people will remember and value. This channel is the most entertaining on the list by far. They break down many celebrity personalities by narrating videos of them interacting with other people (be it fans or in a professional setting). I especially like the Game of Thrones series where all the characters are broken down and examined. They feature a wide variety of topics, like attracting the opposite sex, standing out in crowds, crushing job interviews, being funny, and managing body language. The hosts are extremely likable and charismatic themselves, but at the same time, they lack that air of pompousness that comes with expert authority. It never feels like you’re being treated as if you should already know the information being presented.
Summing It Up
I hope this list serves as a sufficient starting place for anyone who is looking to make this year their best and wants to use all the free education tools available to them. YouTube is one of the most underrated sources of knowledge anywhere. All of these channels, and the individuals involved in creating them, have helped me in some way to become a better version of myself. I surmise that if applied correctly, the information available on these channels will also guide you to an elevated physical and mental state.
Matthew Wallace is a Chicago native and personal trainer out of FFC South Loop. Matt specializes in strength training and sport performance, teaching clients to improve their compound lifts, and crafting unique workouts and programs custom tailored to the clients’ needs.
“To see someone turn their goals, wishes, and desires into a reality, and to be entrusted with guiding that process, is a feeling that can’t be described. I chase this feeling every day in my professional and personal life.”
Matt holds a bachelors of arts from Columbia College Chicago, is certified personal trainer by NFPT, competes on the world stage of the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation, and spent 5 years active duty in the United States Marine Corps. Contact Matt by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a fitness consultation today! You can also follow along with him on Instagram here!