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That’s something I never expected to hear. Think about it: we join gyms and studios because of their equipment, instructors, space, community (and AC, of course). But who’s to say we can’t get all that—or at least most of it—with virtual and online classes, too? In this new wave of wellness, we’ve all been changing our fitness routines as we switch up our everyday schedules and habits. It’s not just in-studio or at-home anymore. It’s in-studio, at-home, at the park, beach, parking lot, rooftop...virtual, hybrid, Instagram Live, online, on-demand, and so much more. As we’re adapting, adjusting, finding our groove, etc., online gym memberships enter the fray—specifically, Mindbody Flex.
There are tons of benefits to an online gym membership, especially right now.
Let’s break this down:
A virtual/online fitness membership is a monthly subscription that gives you access to tons of live stream workout classes you can take anywhere, from studios across the globe. These fitness studios offer tons of at-home workouts, group exercise, and one-on-one training sessions to choose from, no matter your exercise program or fitness level. With so many options, it’s easy to find one that fits your schedule. Take Mindbody Flex for example: you get 10 fitness classes per month to use virtually at top-tier studios, all bookable right from your Mindbody account. Whether you want to fit in a morning flow before work, combat that afternoon slump with some cardio, squeeze in some strength training before dinner, or wind down with an evening barre class, you can pick and choose classes to fit your fitness routine.
And because they’re online, you can take these classes from the comfort of your home (or wherever you are), thus minimizing your exposure to COVID-19 and eliminating your commute to the gym or studio. By now, many of us have our designated “workout spot,” whether it’s an actual weight room, a quick scooch of the coffee table, or a grassy area in the backyard. Maybe you’re comfortable here... maybe you’ve even learned to love it.
With an online gym membership like Mindbody Flex, you can stay in your safe space/comfy workout spot. Or, you can go somewhere new (local park, beach spot, a different area of the house, you know). You can access these virtual, live stream fitness classes from any device, so you can prop up your phone, laptop, or tablet wherever you want to go, or roll out your mat in front of the big screen TV in your living room.
We all have our favorite, go-to workouts. But sometimes, it feels good to switch it up (especially right now). Working from home all day, many of us are craving some variety and excitement, and an online gym membership can definitely help with that. According to our recent poll about COVID’s effect on our fitness routines, 64% of you have tried new online workouts since the start of the pandemic—I know I have. Maybe it’s because trying new things is easier in the comfort of our homes, maybe we’re finally able to try some classes we normally can’t find locally, or maybe we’re all just bored out of our minds...I don’t know. But I’m excited about it.
With an online gym membership, you can get that spice you’re looking for easily. Mindbody Flex makes it easy to browse different fitness categories to try each day. Start out your Monday by hitting some HIIT, ease your sore muscles with some Restorative Yoga, and end the week with some dance cardio to pretend you’re at the club. The world is yours.
My favorite part? No commute. There are literally no more excuses when it comes to skipping workouts. No traffic, no schedule conflicts, no fear of returning to the studio. You don’t even have to worry about packing a gym bag with a change of clothes and shower supplies or prepping a snack or protein shake to bring to work. Just shut your computer, throw on some leggings, and get to work.
With the rise of virtual, came a world of opportunities (literally). In addition to taking classes hosted by the local studios we know and love, we gained the chance to get outside our comfort zones—and our zip codes—and “travel” the world to try out new studios. In 2020, I’ve gotten to take classes from studios in Oregon, LA, Colorado, Ohio, and more. (Check out the top cities for virtual yoga if you’re curious). For just an hour or so of my day, I get the chance to jump into a new community.
Often, I’m greeted by the instructor as soon as I log on, and others in the class will introduce themselves as well. Lately, I’ve noticed some groups going around the room and saying where they’re located (which is super cool, because many of us are in different states!). These experiences are ones I never could’ve had without physically visiting these places.
On the flip side, while you’re browsing around looking for virtual classes across the globe, you might end up finding one right in your neighborhood that you’ve never tried before. Jamie Younse, Mindbody’s acquisition marketing manager, took a local class without realizing it: “The cool thing about this class is I signed up because the time worked for me. I just noticed it's a Pilates studio in Santa Monica, where I've walked by a handful of times with friends and they always say, ‘we should try that place!’ ...and then we end up at brunch instead.”
If studios near you are still closed, you don’t yet feel safe going back, or you just want to try the class from the comfort of your home before braving unfamiliar territory, virtual fitness memberships are a good way to do it. Try a bunch of local studios, get to know the instructors and the community, and then take your pick, so you can head in as soon as you’re ready.
Community—the element of online fitness memberships we don’t often think of. When we go into studios, we understand the beauty of a fitness community. We’re greeted by our instructors, we chat with others in the class, and we all sweat together and encourage each other throughout. But working out at home is different... or is it?
We can do workouts on our own at home all we want, but we’re definitely going to miss out on the community aspect we all know and love. But, with live stream classes, we can create a different kind of community. The beauty of it? It’s not just your neighbors anymore. Anyone with an online fitness membership can join these classes, regardless of where they’re located in relation to the studio, so you can be working out alongside people from all over the world—now that’s something I can get behind.
The other great thing about online fitness memberships is the bang you get for your buck. For less than $6 per class, Mindbody Flex gives you a sweet deal on adding to your fitness routine. At that price, you can keep heading into your favorite studios when in-person fitness is allowed and add in some virtual on the side to keep things fresh. It’s a win-win.
Alicia Sokol opened her barre3 location in Washington DC after a series of career pivots. As an equity analyst, she never set out to be a fitness instructor or business owner. Through self-reflection, she realized that studio ownership meant she could fully express her values in a meaningful way. She opened her studio to help people find a movement practice that not only feels good but nurtures a supportive community.
As a kid, one thing Sokol struggled with was a sense of belonging—which is precisely why she created a place where simply walking through the door validates acceptance. Alicia's always striving to bring versatility to her community through connecting people from all different backgrounds. She's consistently motivated by what barre3 has brought to individuals—it's a challenging and effective workout, but more importantly, it's the practice of feeling our intuition and following it accordingly.
We recently chatted with Alicia to learn more about her and how she views the world of wellness.
I was slow to find joy in movement. As a kid, I shied away from sports. I don't have a competitive nature and I was an awkward kid—always picked last in gym class! A friend invited me for a run along Lake Michigan when I was in college—that was the first time I realized the healing power of movement. I felt so alive! I remember thinking: why didn't anyone tell me this was a thing? I have always enjoyed movement that doesn't require hand-eye coordination or special skills. I also tend to enjoy movement that is meditative and allows me to be in nature—running, hiking, swimming, and paddleboarding.
My career path has been a series of pivots. Each opportunity has been a chance to learn about myself. I started my career as an equity analyst at an investment bank—it was what I thought I should do with my undergraduate finance degree. I never set out to own a business. I never set out to be a fitness instructor! But through a series of asking tough questions and connecting with what makes me feel purposeful and alive, this is exactly where I have ended up.
Owning a barre3 studio has allowed me to fully express my values in a way that is meaningful to me. My studio is staffed by kind, wise people who love what we do. We are a place that instantly welcomes anyone who wants to be a part of what we're all about. I'm constantly trying to diversify our community—a wider range of ages, shapes, sizes, goals, experiences, backgrounds. Moving together helps us see that we all crave the same thing—a sense of belonging, a space to express ourselves, to be seen and heard, to know we are loved just as we are. My favorite part of my work has always been teaching barre3 classes. My studio is now 5 1/2 years old, and this is still what I love to do best.
Even though I went to business school, I never set out to be an entrepreneur. When I discovered barre3, I was working as a freelance writer and photographer and exploring a more creative path to my career. I had two small children and I knew it was time to make yet another career pivot. barre3 provided peace at a time in my life when running hurt and I needed both an effective workout and an endorphin release. I fell hard for the workout (tough), the community (kind), and the feeling of being in the studio (better—ways better!).
One of the reasons I opened my studio was to help people find a movement practice that felt good and a community that felt supportive. You don't need to be a dancer. You don't need to be fit or flexible. This workout is truly for any human body. As a kid, I struggled mightily with belonging. I wanted to create a place where simply walking in the door permitted belonging and support. I am always so happy to hear people say, "I've never been able to stick to a workout routine, but this is the first exercise I've really loved! I WANT to do this!"—that was the feeling I was going for.
On a day-to-day basis, I'm motivated by what barre3 has brought to people's lives. Yes, it's a tough and effective workout. But more than that, it's a practice of feeling and responding to our inner voice. It's been a tough couple of years, and for most of us, it would be easier to just go numb. What we are doing in class is permitting ourselves to feel the uncomfortable physical sensations, and in doing so, giving ourselves permission to face the uncomfortable mental work of being human. We all need that. We all struggle at some point. I love to see our community members find love and acceptance of their bodies just as they are. Diet culture has made it difficult for us to do that, and it puts us in a state of constantly trying to change and improve. I love to see people stand a little taller and become more confident in who they are.
I also love to hear when people have been able to use their voices more effectively because of the work they are doing in class, which is all about listening to one's own voice. Over the years the studio has been open, my clients have developed the courage to ask for a promotion, leave a toxic relationship, come out as gay, apply to grad schools, start new businesses, and so much more. When they connect the work they did at barre3 to the courage to do those scary things? Chills. Every time.
To me, wellness is a continuum rather than a destination—kind of like "balance.” It takes constant attention and continued work. There is no getting there and staying there. When I was younger, I thought of wellness as something that was much more physical—staying active, getting enough sleep, eating nutrient-rich foods, enjoying some treats. But now I see wellness as much more complex—the mental component is substantial.
I have also noticed that when the mental health piece is off-kilter, it impacts the physical! I discovered that when I had a pain in my back "for no reason"—oh, there was a reason. And it had nothing to do with the mechanics of my body and everything to do with sorting out some stressors in my life. That was a serious a-ha moment for me. I am the mother of teen boys (the hardest work I have ever done!) and I think it's important to show them how I process emotions in a very real way. Even just saying "I'm feeling frustrated right now because ___" or "I'm sad because ____" or "I'm angry right now, and I need to _____ to deal with my anger." It makes everyone uncomfortable, to say the least. But I hope they are taking note somewhere deep in their brains and seeing that being able to recognize, sit with, and process our emotions is at the core of our mental health. There is no ticket to overall wellness without that.
If you’re in the DC area, you should definitely check out Alicia’s barre3 location to help you advance your wellness routine. Not in the area? No worries—barre3 offers live stream studio workouts that can be done at home. Or find a studio near you at one of more than 150 locations sprinkled all over the US (in cities like Seattle, New York City, and Austin—just to name a few) and Canada. They even offer a complete virtual membership for folks who prefer to work out at home—so everybody has a chance to get that barre3 experience they are known for. Ready to lengthen and strengthen with Alicia and her team? Book barre3 classes on the Mindbody app.