Selecting fitness videos that suit you as you age

Selecting fitness videos at 80, I favour short mainstream routines in many different disciplines. I go slow, go easy, take pauses—and smile.

During lockdown, gyms were closed and dance classes were cancelled. So, like you perhaps, I turned to fitness videos on YouTube.

Gradually I realised that selecting fitness videos from the millions on offer is a highly idiosyncratic process. Looking at my list of fitness bookmarks today, some of my preferences are obvious.


What!? Nothing for older people? Just because a fitness video is titled “for seniors” doesn’t mean it is right for me. In fact, I eventually decided to avoid all videos that were explicitly directed at older people. Not because the videos were bad, far from it. But they varied hugely from a full-on cardio work-out to gently rolling your eyeballs (just kidding). And some instructors were patronising, bent on saving me from various hypothetical problems. I wanted an exercise video, not a sermon on aging well, thanks anyway.

Instead my bookmarks show certain preferences when selecting fitness videos:

  • many different disciplines: squats, Pilates, theraband, barre, weights, yoga. Variety is the spice of life.
  • short routines: mainly 20 minutes. Long enough to satisfy, short enough to fit into my days.
  • routines that remain on one level, either standing or at floor level: then the computer can remain at eye level throughout.

The list doesn’t show the instructors I favour but they tend to be matter-of-fact and engaging. Nobody poncy or pushy or preachy. Their age is irrelevant.

How I use mainstream fitness videos in my old age

Sure, I avoid videos explicitly for older people. Nevertheless, at 80, I am old. Not frail but with some undeniable features of old age:

  • getting dizzy with quick turns or moving my head up and down
  • lack of stamina
  • tottery balance, yeah yeah yeah.

Using a fitness video on YouTube is easy: do it your way

Pick one or more of the following hacks.

  • Turn the speed of the video down to 75% . (On the video screen, see that little cog-wheel bottom right?)
  • Pause any time and have a drink of water. No one’s watching you. Take a break.
  • You know your body well. When it protests, do that movement less, do it softer, do it easier. You’ll get more benefit from taking it easy than by forcing yourself.
  • Keep a chair handy to help your balance.
  • Do a video a few times before you ditch it: you may grow to like it.

And there’s only one rule: smile as you exercise! Enjoy the buzz, the pride and the benefits.

Squats plus leg raises, 10 repetitions, Fitness Blender

One of my favourites: 100 squat reps with Fitness Blender (Whaat—green border?)



5 thoughts on “Selecting fitness videos that suit you as you age

  1. Nyla Carroll says:

    Thanks for keeping it real on a Friday Rachel – you go girl!

  2. cedar51 says:

    I’ve got back to “walking” and my friend who has helped me get going, recently said “consistency is the key”. This after I said “I’m not going to use mappedometer on actual distance because it’s not truly necessary”. Truly it seems to me some slopes @ up/down and flat ground…set a slight goal on how far “today” and tweak it if necessary.

    So today: a couple of down slopes one has a slight sharp up slope in it, a few flatties, a slow up slope and the last one a steep slope…and my start and finish is always fairly flat – I start/end my walks at the corner of my street, when I’m doing the local ‘hood.

    If I’m going out of the ‘hood – I don’t count anything until I’m at wherever I intend to start…like walk from Queens Arcade mostly along Fanshawe Street to Victoria Park….

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Your comments always offer a fresh way to look at things. Walking up and down hills is very different from walking on the flat, for sure.

  3. joliesattic says:

    I totally agree. I really liked this post. Very apropo for us who are not doddery but still vibrant (for our age). I don’t like jumping for one. But I’ve started dancing to some K-pop videos. They’ve got catchy tunes and have graceful moves.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      K-pop videos I love and they beg you to dance! What a great new habit.

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