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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.
Ah, 2020—the year that truly put our sanity to the test. On top of that, something that most people use to navigate through a tough time has essentially been stripped away from us—our normal workout routines. I don’t know about you, but even skipping a week at the gym can send me into a tailspin. But several months of sheltering in place and being forced to adapt to this new normal?
That’s a different story.
While I think we can all say we’re grateful that fitness studios were quick to offer virtual classes when COVID-19 hit—there is something about constantly working out by ourselves that may trigger some of us to hit pause on our workout routines and start turning towards less robust habits. *Reluctantly raises hand*
The other day I came across a stat that really set off some alarms. According to a recent study, Americans are spending an additional two hours each day on their couch since March 2020. As of recently, I can say I’m totally guilty of a little too much R&R. While an evening of Netflix and wine once sounded like heaven on earth for most of us, I think it’s safe to say the repetition of this is starting to get kind of old. Also, Schitt’s Creek is over now, so I really don’t have any excuse to not dedicate my free time to jumping back into my at-home workouts.
I started pondering what made dial back my fitness routine in the first place? Was it a lack of motivation? No, not really. Screen fatigue? I think my Netflix history outlined above would tell you that’s a solid ‘no.’ Then it hit me—the thing that motivated me to stay on top of my fitness goals was being around other people with the same goals. Pre-COVID, going to my favorite spin studio and the local yoga hot spot was how I typically spent my social hour during the workweek. I realized the best way to amp up my at-home workout routine was to re-connect with my workout buddies and start doing virtual classes together to create that sense of community I craved.
If you’re also experiencing some form of live stream lull when it comes to your workouts, then getting a virtual workout buddy may be exactly what you need. Here’s why:
Just like in-person workouts, making plans to sweat it out with one of your friends motivates you to show up and be your best self. According to the Mindbody Wellness Index, 25% of the folks we surveyed said they found it difficult to hold themselves accountable to their workout goals on their own—and an additional 20% of people said a lack of support was responsible for missed workouts.
Everybody enjoys a little friendly competition, right? Maybe you have a friend who is a powerhouse at virtual HIIT—try signing up for a class with them to help you take your workout to a whole new level.
Getting a workout sesh in with a friend is the perfect time to try a new exercise such as virtual yoga or virtual barre. Trying something new can be scary—I get it. But by trying a new type of exercise with a friend, you can both give each other a confidence boost by acting as each other’s personal hype man.
Look, we’re all craving human interaction these days—and I know I’m not the only one who is missing weekly happy hours with friends. Luckily, fitness studios are getting creative with their virtual offerings post-workout, too! When we asked members of our MindbodyOne Community how they are keeping things interesting for their students in the virtual space, they said they are hosting monthly virtual wine dates to share fitness stories and personal victories. Not only do you get to drink wine, but you and your buddy get to meet other like-minded people at the same time.
As 2020 winds down (thank goodness), you have a unique opportunity to reconnect with your friends and take your workout sessions to the next level with a virtual workout buddy. So, why not start now? Book a virtual fitness class and encourage your friends to show up for you and themselves today.