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When it's too cold to go outside, bring the outside in
Virtual scenery may just be the next best thing when you can't get outside or when you need an escape from our current cold and snowy landscape. Check out these YouTube channels for a short reprieve from winter. - photo by Lindy Phippen Smith
THE GREAT OUTDOORS This time of year, some of us may be craving a little warmth, a bit of sunshine or maybe some outside time that doesnt include layering up. But if a tropical getaway is not in your foreseeable future, you may just have to, as the saying goes, "fake it until you make it."

In order to get a small reprieve from the winter weather, I would recommend taking a virtual escape. Take your next run on the white sands of Aruba, walk through a lush Australian rainforest, take a bike ride through Spain and end the day with a relaxing beachside namaste. Or at least do it virtually.

There are several YouTube channels that offer virtual scenery for your next walk, run, ride or yoga session. These videos are not meant to be strictly instructional, but rather place more of an emphasis on virtually taking you "outside" and providing an experience, rather than a step-by-step home workout video style. If youre at home, you can pull up the channel on your TV or you can use your phone or tablet if youre at the gym.

Virtual scenery for walking, running or elliptical:

Treadmill TV

This channel has a wide variety of scenery ideal for walking, running or an elliptical machine. Youll be able to explore everything from national parks to enjoying long walks on the beach.

I appreciated the diversity of landscape from video to video as well as the variation from long to short walks or run distances. The only soundtrack offered are naturally occurring noises so you may want to pop in your ear buds with a good workout mix to keep you going. I enjoyed running somewhere warm, green and with hints of the ocean in sight.

Run Downunder

This channel will introduce you to a lot Australian terrain, offering a refreshingly lush green interruption to those white mounds of snow that wont be melting anytime soon. These videos are clearly labeled for time, distance and location, making it easy to search for exactly the kind of walk or run youve got the time and energy for.

The Treadmiller

This channel offers guided runs, which means you are pacing behind a runner. This differs from the other suggested channels, as those ones just have you and the scenery. I didnt find the landscapes quite as stunning as some of the others, but the guided feature may help you stay on task and sustain a quicker pace.

This channel offers no soundtrack and may be more appreciated by an experienced runner.

Virtual scenery for cycling:

Indoor Cycling Videos

This channel will tour you around Spain, Italy and other famous road bike rides. If group rides are your thing, this is the channel for you. Many of their videos place you just behind a group of cyclists so you can try to to catch them as you ride through breathtaking landscapes.

Most of the videos range from 30 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes. They also specify if you will be doing hills, flats and exactly what the workout involves so you can adjust your spin bike accordingly. The playlist wasnt anything to fall in love with so you may want to mute the audio on the video and use your own playlist.

Virtual Cycle Rides- Indoor Bike Motivation Vids

This channel offers virtual scenery from around the world specifically for cycling. These videos are all about you and the road there are no group rides and no other cyclists are on the scene. It will take you places youve never been, all narrated by the sounds of nature. If you are out for an enjoyable and scenic pedal session, give this channel a try.

Global Cycling Network

These guys know cycling. GCN features outdoor scenery for cycling as well as indoor spinning classes. Their videos are thorough and each has a well-marked gauge telling you total ride time, RPM, and where your effort level should be for each segment on a scale from 1-10.

If you are truly wanting to train and measure your progress, this is the channel for you. Not only will they pedal through a workout with you, GCN is also a great resource for cyclists and mountain bikers as they have a bevy of how-to videos detailing anything from changing a flat tire to what you should eat on a long ride or what to wear on a cold ride. This channel is about fitness and education.

Virtual scenery for yoga and pilates:

Follow-Along Empowered Yoga

This channel features yoga sequences all in the great outdoors. Many of the videos are filmed in a non-snowy Utah landscape that you may be missing right about now. The instructor, Amanda Christian, has a calm no-nonsense approach to the practice of yoga. Even if youve got just 10 minutes, you can pull up a great video and accomplish some peaceful mat time.

Bermuda Pilates with Liz Lang

This channel combines pilates and barre movements in a class setting located on various beaches. All you need is a mat. If you havent given pilates or barre classes a try, a home video is the perfect place to start. The movements seem small and simple, but will shape and define muscles you didnt even know you had. Lang's playlist is better than most, but doesnt overpower the pleasant noise of the ocean tide.

Boho Beautiful

This channel presents yoga in a natural, organic way by focusing on breath, meditation and a yogi mindset that will leave your body feeling challenged and your mind relaxed. Boho videos are filmed on some of the worlds most beautiful and exoctic beaches. The narrative and instruction is soft, yet exact, and her playlist perfectly matches the calm setting.

What YouTube channels motivate you with beautiful workout settings? Let us know in the comments.
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