How has your fitness routine changed in the last 14 months? The global pandemic has uprooted our usual habits and has us exercising more inside our homes. With so many online fitness options out there, it can be challenging to sort through what will work best for you. Additionally, it’s important to know how to safely workout on your own while also getting the most out of the experience.

The History of Online Fitness

Online fitness is taking the world by storm right now. In the moment, this feels like a revolution of sorts, but it’s actually more of a revival. The evolution of home fitness began about 70 years ago. Raise your hand if you’ve ever followed along with some kind of fitness routine in your living room. I’m betting most of us have, at one point or another, on DVD or ahem, VHS.

In 1951, muscle man Jack LaLanne debuted a morning TV program geared toward women as part of a beauty routine and to stay slim. Over the next couple of decades, fitness took root as part of a healthy lifestyle. More and more people were making exercise a priority and getting out to jog or going to the gym regularly.

The emergence of VHS tapes in the 1980s brought home fitness back in a big way. We can look to Jane Fonda for that first instance of what we would now think of as an on demand exercise class. The image of her leotard and legwarmers, well curled hair and sweatband is something we can all conjure up in our minds with ease.

Many others would follow… the fun of Sweatin’ to the Oldies with Richard Simmons or feeling tough doing Tae Bo with Billy Blanks.

Types of Online Fitness Classes

So what are your options today? Online fitness has become so much more than that workout tape you used in the 80s. Here are three ways you can access an online exercise class.

On Demand

According to Merriam-Webster, on demand literally means “when requested or needed.” With on demand fitness classes, a fitness instructor will record a class in advance. You can access the class on your own time and wherever is convenient. You’ll find on demand classes on the internet with free and paid options.

Places like YouTube and Vimeo are very popular – my own fitness studio, MOVE Wellness, has its very own YouTube channel. You may also find on demand classes through your TV cable provider. Even social media sites like Instagram are sharing more and more fitness content every day.

Livestream

A livestream class will be presented more like the format of Jack LaLanne’s TV program. Classes are taught live to the audience who tunes in to follow along on a set day and time. Some people really benefit from the commitment to a schedule.

Livestream classes offer fresh, never seen before content each session to stave off boredom. You can usually choose to pay for one class at a time or sign up for a membership.

Interactive Livestream

Taking livestream one step further, think of interactive livestream classes as your group fitness Zoom meeting. Interactive livestream classes will feel more like the traditional group fitness class you might be used to attending at your local gym. Classes are scheduled in advance and taught live to a group of people.

The interactive component comes in that the instructor can interact with you live on Zoom and offer real time advice and modifications. Interactive livestream classes are usually associated with a specific gym or fitness studio.

9 Tips for Online Fitness Success

So you’ve chosen a class and you’re ready to get moving. How do you make sure you’re moving safely and getting the most out of your workout when the instructor isn’t in the room with you?

I polled my awesome staff of trainers and compiled their best advice here for you. They teach everything from Pilates to barre, yoga, HIIT and more and have been teaching classes online since the very beginning of the pandemic.

#1: Choose the Right Place to Exercise

Make sure you have enough room around you to move and that there are no other hazards you could trip on. You know your house better than we do. Pick the best spot you can to work out.

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Watch out for carpets and rugs that could become a tripping hazard.
  • Be careful with tables and chairs, as they may slide depending on how heavy they are and the type of flooring you have.
  • Keep props nearby, but not in your way.

#2: Don’t Be Late

For livestream classes, try to log in on time so you can hear what the instructor has planned for class. Many classes won’t use anything but a mat, but sometimes special props or equipment are incorporated.

They’ll usually share what you’ll need and what you can use instead if you don’t have it. You also want to make sure you don’t miss the warmup portion of the class.

#3: Listen to Your Body

If an exercise doesn’t feel right for you today, don’t do it. If you know a modification, do that instead. You can always skip the current exercise and do your favorite stretch, grab a drink, or simply catch your breath as you wait for the next round.

#4: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

In an interactive livestream class, you can speak directly to the instructor. Otherwise, you can usually contact the instructor ahead of time or after class for any clarification you need.

#5: Eliminate Distractions

Set aside your phone and have as few distractions as possible so you can stay with the flow of the class. Give yourself time to focus and enjoy moving your body. If you were taking the class in person, you wouldn’t be answering calls!

#6: Establish a Routine

Once you’ve found a couple of favorite classes, make a weekly recurring reservation to set a habit for yourself. By developing and sticking to routines, we hold ourselves accountable to a healthy lifestyle.

#7: Put Your Class in Your Calendar

Whether it’s a scheduled livestream class or you are setting aside time for an on demand workout, it’s just another step that will help you commit to showing up.

#8: Turn Your Camera On

If you’re taking an interactive class, consider turning on your camera to maximize your experience. Movement instructors really love to see you move! Make sure you are well lit and visible to the instructor. Lighter, brighter clothing colors are easier to see.

Some people are understandably shy about having the camera on. The instructor can really personalize your experience if they can see you in real time. And trust me when I say we love to see your smiling faces.

#9: Learn What Works for You

If you’re able, consider scheduling a few private training sessions (in person or online via Zoom) with a qualified instructor. This will help you identify ways to advance or modify exercises to fit your individual needs and goals.

Who Can Take Online Fitness Classes?

Anybody… and everybody! There’s truly something for everyone at all ages, stages, and levels of fitness. Being able to move together virtually has been such a gift during these challenging times.

Online fitness is here to stay. It’s incredibly convenient and can even connect you to a community of people with similar interests. Whatever fitness path you choose, we hope you’ll keep moving.

Enjoy a free trial of livestream movement classes with MOVE Wellness.

How many online fitness classes have you tried to date? Which ones were you able to keep and why? Were there any classes that you found too difficult to do or to connect with? Do you think an interactive class might be more helpful to you, or do you prefer a different option? Please share any tips you may have gained in your online exercise experience.

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