If you spot me in the gym with my headphones in, I'm probably not listening to music. It's more likely I'm listening to a podcast: My go-tos include a raft of current affairs podcasts whose viewpoints I parrot to my friends to sound intelligent; the shamelessly geeky No Such Thing as a Fish; and the gloriously smutty My Dad Wrote a Porno.
(Which is actually a very dangerous podcast for the gym. I have frequently come close to seriously injuring myself mid-workout because I've started laughing — if you're a Porno fan, you'll understand.)
There's a straightforward reason I don't subscribe to many health and fitness podcasts: 99 per cent of them are terrible. Pick one at random and it's likely to be either self-help dross, or pseudoscientific dogma, or intolerably American, or boorish gym bros bantering for upwards of two hours per episode. (Seriously, who has the time?!)
But there are a few worth listening to — and short enough to perfectly sync with the length of most workouts.
The Ross Edgley Podcast
Ross Edgley is what you'd call an overachiever: he's done things like swam all the way around Great Britain and completed a marathon while dragging a car. So — to be honest — I expected him to be a bit of a meathead when I first sampled his podcast (originally called The World's Fittest Podcast).
To my surprise, Edgley is genuinely engaging, intelligent, and motivating. Even if you're not training for some epic feat of endurance, you'll find some workout inspo in his podcast.
Be advised that it's only intermittently updated — Edgley seems to have lost interest in publishing new episodes early in 2019, perhaps distracted by training to cycle around the sun — but the back catalogue is worth listening to. (Official site)
This one's hosted by Canadian trainer Brock Armstrong, who initially sounds less like a fitness expert and more like an earnest-but-dreary fellow reading fitness expertise from a script.
But stick with him! Armstrong is brimming with advice you can incorporate into any workout — whether you prefer the gym, running, or any other pursuit — in episodes that rarely extend longer than 20 minutes.
Trained is produced by Nike, and lives up to the high expectations set by that brand. It's able to attract an impressive roster of guests — scrolling through its available episodes reveals a who's who of the health world, including sleep scientist Matthew Walker, longevity expert Rhonda Patrick, and self-styled sleep guru Ariana Huffington.
When I first discovered this podcast I binged on the episodes featuring big names and topics, and overlooked the more mindset-focused instalments. That was a mistake: there are some surprisingly thoughtful insights from athletes of sporting creeds. (Available on all the major podcast apps)
I know several people who can't stand "radio show"-styled podcasts, preferring less-scripted banter to overproduced polish. Generally, I am one of those people — yet I'm a fan of Like Kit, a product of the legendary US radio network NPR.
Unlike the rest of the podcasts on this list, Life Kit isn't strictly focused on health and fitness. Its episodes frequently veer into territory like managing finances, job hunting and making friends as an adult. They're ones I'm most likely to skip… so I can instead hear more about a dodgy porno written by some guy's dad. (Official site)
According to Sam Downing, the secret to wellbeing is just to keep it simple. A qualified personal trainer, fitness instructor and nutrition coach, Sam is also a writer focusing on everyday health.
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