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By now, we all know the benefits of virtual and online fitness classes, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about some of the struggles. To adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, studios and instructors all over the world had to get crafty, many with little-to-no experience with live streaming or recording workouts at home (so, if you haven’t, make sure you send your instructors a quick thank you—because they deserve it). Now that we’ve realized virtual fitness is here to stay—and we’ve all had lots of practice—the virtual experience is getting a whole lot better.
Here’s what your favorite studios and instructors are doing to improve their virtual fitness classes right now:
Everything seems harder than it must be right now...which is why jumping through hoops to get into a class should be the last thing on your mind. As with most things, the simpler, the better (unless we’re talking about the actual workout). Studios are working on creating a one-button experience to join a class. You sign up, get an email, press ‘join,’ and you’re in. And if something happens with your WiFi and you end up getting kicked out, no worries. One button click and you’re back in, without even missing a circuit.
If there's one thing more annoying than not having easy access to classes, it’s bad quality and connection. We’ve all found ourselves in online classes where you literally can’t follow along due to poor connectivity causing instructors to freeze every five seconds. Or if it’s an on-demand class that doesn’t buffer, you’re stuck looking at a spinning wheel as your heart rate decreases at the worst possible time. Not fun.
Now, studios and instructors are doing their absolute best to make sure they have top-notch WiFi and streaming services so we can work out without delays. Better cameras, lighting, and space setups are just a few of the investments instructors and studios are making to make virtual workouts as close to the in-studio experience as possible.
For most, working out with music is a must. But figuring out how to balance tunes with the instructor’s voice can be a challenge. In the studio, they have state-of-the-art speakers blasting playlists throughout class, and oftentimes they have headset mics—all adjusted to the perfect volume so you can sweat to the beat, without missing a beat.
But at home, it’s a little more difficult. Now that instructors have had some time to work on it, they’re figuring it out. Some instructors suggest playlists for you, others have mastered the perfect music to voice volume ratio, and some have invested in some high-quality mic setups for their home studios. In yoga instructor, Dani Schenone’s words, “Instructors are Jedi masters at the music-to-voice volume ratio at this point. When necessary, external microphones offer an amazingly clear experience. I record my classes and listen back, noticing any audio issues I need to address the next time around.” We’re getting there together, and again, thank your instructors. This isn’t easy.
With instructors improving their own spaces for filming workouts, we need to be doing the same as attendees. An instructor’s key to creating a good virtual experience is making it all replicable—creating a space and using equipment that’s realistic for anyone to mimic at home. If they're using weights, they should let you know ahead of time, and maybe even give some household items you can use as alternatives.
Instructors are people too, and they know this. They’re coming up with tons of creative ways to make the experience easier for you, whether it’s propping up their cameras so you can see their entire setup and body, notifying you of equipment needs early in the booking process, or teaching classes that can realistically fit in most spaces.
Have you seen the videos of teachers trying to keep their kindergarteners engaged over Zoom? Fitness classes are not much different. Signing up for group fitness classes means more motivation and encouragement, so we can’t skip out on the hard moves and cut our workouts short when we’re feeling tired. Instructors, though, have an interesting challenge—keeping that spirit up through a computer or phone screen. And right now (as always), they’re stepping up in several ways:
• They’re always on time, beginning and ending class right when they say they will.
• They talk through all the moves, so you don’t constantly have to be looking at the screen, and demo them at least twice in case you missed the first one.
• They shout out words of encouragement and call people out by name, just as they would at an in-studio class.
• They give tips and pointers for perfecting your form, even if they can’t always see you.
• They have a positive attitude throughout the class and are consistent with their delivery, so we always know what to expect.
• They’re our superstars, and we love them for it.
Shifting from IRL to virtual fitness has not come without its own set of complications, but let’s not forget about the struggles of the people on the other side of that screen. Our instructors are working hard out here to make these classes better because they genuinely care about our health, well-being, and sense of community.
Virtual classes are here to stay, and they’re just going to keep getting better and better. Thank you, instructors.
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.