Online Fitness Tools to Motivate and Inspire You

The Internet has opened up a while new world for those of us who love to exercise.

Whether you’re streaming a new Yoga class each day or just finding a new group of friends to work out with, you might be amazed at the new tools and resources available online.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

1. Free Yoga Classes. Check out YogaToday.com for free yoga classes every day of the week. The classes take place in a gorgeous setting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and each class has a specific theme.

Alternately, you can join the Gaiam Yoga Club for only $5 a week and get access to fresh daily online yoga programs and classes.

2. Athlete Blogs. Subscribe to blogs of top athletes or coaches in your favorite sports. Once you find some you like, check the blogs on their blogrolls for even more. Reading these athlete’s frequent tips and ideas (and even just following these athletes through their own training process and schedules) can be seriously motivating, and you might find a community of likeminded individuals to trade your own stories with.

While you are on these blogs, be sure to look for the writer’s playlists. Sometimes, athletes will post their favorite playlists for various workouts.

Two blogs I read every single time they’re updated:
http://themarathonmama.blogspot.com/
http://www.athleta.net/chi/

3. Motivational mp3 Workouts. Check out iTrain, which is a virtual personal trainer that allows you to download workouts in mp3 format. These audio workouts are really motivating, with high-energy music and the voices of celebrity fitness trainers. The trainers update their music and workouts each month.

At the time of this writing, the iTrain library of workouts features more than 300 different workouts for various disciplines, from Cardio (cycling, climbing, outdoor running and treadmill) to Sculpting, Strength, and Stretching (including yoga and pilates).There are even teen hip-hop workouts.

iTrain also has customized bundles (called Albums) that are offered at a special rate. There are albums for: 6-week body makeovers, triathlon, post-natal, wedding prep, and more.
Visit the iTrain site for more information.

4. MP3 Audiobooks. Take your workout time to catch up with the work of your favorite author or speaker. You can easily download and listen to mp3 audiobooks, from classic literature to self help to seminars from audible.com (Click here for audible free trial offers and coupons.)

This has been particularly nice for me because I often feel like I don’t have enough time to work out and that I don’t have enough time to read. But when I can combine these two things, it’s perfect. I also love listening to Philosopher’s Notes while I work out.

5. Free Trials at Fitness Centers. Look online for free trial offers at local gyms. At the time of this writing, 24Hour Fitness has a special offer for a 14-day free trial here if you know where to look:  http://www.susies-coupons.com/fitness-center.htm

6. Online Tools to Track Your Progress. There are some amazing websites available today that can help you track your fitness progress, whether it’s through a Garmin ForeRunner (which has changed my life by tracking my run, hike, ski, or bike ride through GPS), a simple application on your iPhone, or a simple training log that you print out and stick to your fridge.

Websites to check out:
http://www.active.com
http://www.mapmyrun.com
http://www.mapmyride.com

7. Social Networking for Fitness. Use Facebook.com or Meetup.com to find a group of people who are training for an event. Training for a series of events each year can be one of the best ways to stay motivated over a long period of time. With the Internet, you can find a group of people in your area who are training toward specific events or fitness goals, whether it’s a 5K, a marathon, or a simple fun run; a mountain biking race, or a triathlon.

8. Charity Sports Training. The Internet makes it a cinch to find charity sports training in your area, such as Team in Training. Team in Training trains people for marathons, half marathons, triathlons, 100-mile century bike rides, and hiking adventures – all while raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It’s a great way to make fitness fun while helping people, too.  To find a Team in Training group near you, simply enter your zip code here: http://www.teamintraining.org

9. Online Weight Loss Programs. If your are looking to lose weight and start or continue an exercise program, there are a number of weight loss programs that use the power of the Internet to full advantage for support, community, and accountability. My favorite of these is Weight Watchers Online (Click here for a 25% off Weight Watchers coupon) because it focuses on long-term healthy lifestyle changes, including nutrition and exercise that you can stick with.

What are your favorite online tools for fitness or weight loss? Please share!