It can be hard enough to find time to work out. We all have commitments – work, family, friends – as well as time spent commuting every day to and from work. It can be even harder to train when it involves getting yourself to a gym or club, changing there, then getting yourself home again, all on their timetable, attending classes at specific times.
Luckily, there is a work around.
Spurred on by improvements to relevant, necessary technology, an increased demand for fitness as we all seek to mitigate the negative effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and, of course, made more important by the recent global pandemic, which saw gyms the world over shutting down, online training has become a massive deal.
In fact, online training is amongst the fastest growing segments of the fitness industry. According to Flurry Insights, health and fitness app usage rose 330% between 2014 and 2017, and the app category grew 9% between 2016 and 2017. More than half of all smartphone users (which pretty much equates to half the adult population of most countries) have downloaded a fitness app.
YouTube and other social media platforms have also been great resources for online workout classes in recent years. YouTube instructors can regularly hit hundreds of thousands of views with online, follow along fitness classes. Yogis, bodybuilders, HIITers, CrossFitters, dancers, Pilates instructors, calisthenics instructors, and many, many more have taken to the web to share their expertise.
Plenty of companies, such as Les Mills and Fitness First have begun to churn out incredibly professional, good quality content with their own online fitness platforms. They are easy to use, available anywhere where you have connectivity, at any time that suits you.
It is also generally a lot cheaper to make use of even paid online classes. Economies of scale kick in quite rapidly. As an instructor, if your classes are attended by twelve people, and you need to pay for gym space rental, you are going to have to charge a fair amount per person before you even break even. However, if one recording can garner hundreds or thousands of views (sometimes even millions), you can afford to charge substantially less. These savings are passed onto the consumer.
There really is no need to be tied to a gym or any specific training time these days. Most classes can be conducted with either no equipment, or at least minimal gear, involved. Bodyweight workouts are available in the thousands. A couple of dumbbells and a yoga mat should give you access to pretty much everything else.
There are some downsides, of course. One of the main drawbacks is the lack of professional, personal feedback you get with online classes. If the instructor is facing down the end of a camera, rather than watching you and a handful of others in real-time, they won’t be able to adapt exercises to meet your needs, as would happen in an in-person class, they can’t comment on your form, and they can’t better explain things if needed.
There is a solution to this, too. Online personal training works pretty well – a combination of tutelage and facetime consultation, mixed with emailed workout plans. It is more personal than on demand classes, and cheaper and easier than seeing a personal trainer several times per week in the gym.
The benefits of online workout classes
It isn’t a substitute for in person personal training. Nor are online classes a perfect substitute for in person classes, due to the issues above. However, it is a close second. The pros arguably far outweigh the negatives.
There are four main benefits that I see to online fitness classes.
- You can fit them into your day, rather than building your day around an in person class. You can perform them anywhere, at any time, with whatever resources you have to hand. This could be your bedroom, living room, garden, hotel room… anywhere, really.
- The technology used to make online workout classes viable is better than ever, always improving, and is so ubiquitous that you can rely on always having it to hand. In most cases, a smartphone with sufficient data or a Wi-Fi connection should see you right.
- Economies of scale and a lack of fixed local make online workout classes far more affordable, further adding to their accessibility. If you can’t justify the expense of a gym membership or weekly classes, online classes may be the way to go. There are plenty of free online classes, and even the classes you have to pay for will be far more likely to be in budget.
- The people who run the larger fitness platforms, like Les Mills On Demand or FF on Air, are experts. World leading experts, often. This isn’t to say that local trainers are not – they usually are. It isn’t to say that every online workout is run by an expert – many aren’t, and those who claim to be are generally self-proclaimed. However, you will have access to world leading expertise easily, affordably, no matter who happens to live near and work from your local gym.