When the fitness studio I taught at first closed its doors last March because of COVID-19, I thought it would only be for a couple weeks. Almost a year later, it's still closed — and teaching fitness classes, as I knew it, is a thing of the past. At least for now.
It's been a challenging year learning how to teach classes virtually. I was shocked to learn that it wasn't as simple as jumping on Zoom. I launched a new website with on-demand access. Then there's the lighting, sound, and other technical aspects I had to navigate. I now own a sound mixer, microphones, and three-point lighting — and I faced a steep learning curve with the platforms I use to upload, catalogue, and promote my workouts, as well as collect payments and connect with clients. The past year has been a crash course in becoming a small-business owner.
While there are obstacles, there have been a lot of benefits to the virtual world of fitness. Online workout classes are convenient, and they've provided people with the opportunity to try new forms of exercise. They've also offered a form of connection and community while we're confined to our homes. People who never wanted to try virtual workouts — or who maybe struggled to get to the gym before — were all of the sudden logging on to exercise multiples times each week.
Working from home has allowed people to swap their commutes for classes of all kinds. Ten months ago, this seemed like a great solution — but now I can see and feel the at-home workout burnout creeping in, and I totally get it. Staying motivated at home can be tough, especially because there are so many distractions. I do feel like we're starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel and that in-person group fitness will happen again in the coming months. But I also believe online fitness is here to stay — that moving forward, many of those who have gone remote will establish a hybrid system that works for their lifestyle and schedule. So, if you need a little inspiration to get through the next few months (or more!), here are some tips to get the most from your online workout.
1. Try not to use your phone to stream or view workouts.
If you're using your phone, it's so easy to get distracted by calls, texts, emails, and notifications. One ping from your phone and you may lose concentration, which means taking your focus off your form and the effort you're putting in. Even better, leave your phone in a separate room.
2. Put on your headphones.
For a better experience, connect your AirPods or other wireless headphones to your computer. The clearer sound helps you stay focussed and creates the feeling that you're in the same room as the instructor. I've found that this minimises disruptions, too.
3. Take a live class — and turn your camera on.
I know turning on your camera can feel a little scary — I've been there — but having it on can help keep you motivated to continue moving throughout the class. I can tell you from experience that the instructor can't see you in much detail, but this may be just the level of accountability you need.
4. Talk to your instructor!
I love when people reach out to me; I miss the human connection of teaching in-person classes and the sense that I'm helping people. As an instructor, I want to know that my online classes are safe and effective and that I'm providing clear direction. So, if you're taking a class and feel confused, or if you feel like it's hard to follow along or you're not experiencing the exercises the way the instructor says you should, be sure to reach out.
If you're working with injuries, you're pregnant or just had a baby, or you're new to the class, I also suggest sending an email to the instructor or staying on at the end of the class to ask questions or introduce yourself. I encourage anyone who has questions or needs individual modifications to stay online after class or to set up a quick one-on-one Zoom call where they can get all their questions answered. That way, they can fully enjoy their workout.
5. Change it up and get creative.
If you've been doing the same online workouts since the start of the pandemic (or maybe for most of your life), use these next few months to try out new classes and instructors. Maybe there's a workout class you have been wanting to try but are a little scared to take in person. Now you can test out new classes in the privacy of your own home. Take advantage of it!