Exercise & Fitness

Is the Future of Fitness Online Classes?

How effective is it with live trainers teaching classes while using computers?

By Lisa Taranto Butler

Imagine working out with a certified trainer and never having to leave the comfort of your own home. What would it be like to “get your sweat on” in a virtual fitness class with a small group of friends or family located in various parts of the country? What if you could take a fitness training session online using the equipment that you already own or just your own body weight for resistance?

What may have been “the future” of fitness is now an everyday reality for many consumers. Using a PC or laptop to receive online personal training is accessible, simple and budget friendly, not to mention good for the body.

In the past few years, fitness apps, online exercise videos and streaming classes have been gaining popularity in the workout world. Micah LaCerte, owner of Hitch Fit Gym in Kansas City, has been using the Web to train clients since 2007. The trainer came up with the idea when a friend (who lived in another country) wanted to work out with Micah directly, but the thousands of miles between them made personal training impossible.

With that in mind, Micah created Hitch Fit’s first online training plan. Once established, these online programs immediately gained popularity. “We focus on transformation, which means we have a start date and an end date,” LaCerte says. “Clients can learn the tools needed to be healthy and fit for the long term.”

And with custom workouts, nutrition programs and lifestyle choices at the their fingertips, health-conscious Web users are seeing measurable results.

Even more exciting for online training lovers is live personal training. With the use of a webcam and an Internet browser, people can connect to fitness trainers in real time. By combining the convenience of exercising at home with an online trainer providing accountability, safety and real-time inspiration, participants can get fit with an expert in their own homes.

How Do Online Fitness Classes Work?

Online training sessions allow trainers to instruct anyone with a webcam, laptop and Internet connection live. Participants can choose from one-on-one personal training sessions to group personal training sessions designed for up to five participants at once. While private or one-on-one sessions offer a little more flexibility and customization, group sessions enable people to participate in exercise classes at their convenience (with friends or strangers), as well as provide a cheaper option than private sessions.

On most online training sites, customers can search for either a one-on-one session or group workout and then browse a range of exercise types including everything from beginner workouts, strength training and yoga, to pilates, boot camps and kickboxing. By filling out an online questionnaire, participants can indicate their preferences such as when they want to take a class, what their goals are and what type of exercise equipment they own.

When it is time for the session or class, the instructor and the participants are displayed live on the screen. Instructors demonstrate exercises and watch the participants as they complete their repetitions. This way, instructors can correct any form or posture issues and provide immediate feedback right on the spot.

What About Space?

The idea behind online workouts is convenience, so as long as participants can stand about six to seven feet away from their computer, and spread their arms out without touching anything, they are good-to-go. Members can exercise anywhere from the bedroom or kitchen to a local park or hotel room.

Any Equipment Needs?

Most of the workouts require little or no equipment, but if a client already has equipment, the trainer is informed before the workout and may incorporate those pieces into the session. Most group workouts use no equipment (think your own body weight) or basic tools like dumbbells or bands. 

How Much Do Online Fitness Classes Cost ?

While the cost of most gym personal training sessions can vary from about $50 to $100 dollars, most live private online training session average about $40 for one hour. If a client chooses to do a group session, the costs can decrease dramatically with most sessions topping out at only $15. Participants can also choose monthly group or private memberships, which can be even more affordable.

What are the Benefits of Online Fitness Classes ?

Most folks who exercise regularly are generally pretty savvy on the Web, so working out online offers a unique change to their regular workout. Group sessions offer camaraderie to those that desire more interaction with others, and for those with friends or family in other cities, a “face-to-face” way to connect with them. And, just like setting an appointment with a trainer at a gym, the online platform provides accountability, especially if participants choose group options.

Unlike pre-recorded or video training programs, the face-to-face training platforms offer a live personal trainer who can correct your form in real time, count repetitions and motivate clients immediately. And probably the most important benefit of real-time online workouts is the convenience. No matter what the weather is like, whether or not transportation is an issue or what time of day someone wants to exercise, a simple click on a computer screen can have them working out safely in their own home and exercising their way to better health.

Even though you may not be completely face-to-face with your online trainer, the ongoing support can be extremely helpful with your wellness goals. Answering emails, providing nutrition ideas and weekly assessments are just some of the ways online trainers can make you feel like they are right there with you.

“We require that the client write us weekly to update us on their progress, but many clients write multiple times per week,” LaCerte says. “We have found that many people will open up a bit more through an email than they would in person, so we get to really connect with them and help them overcome many of the walls they have created over the years.”

What are the Cons of Online Fitness Classes ?

Not everything is glitch-free in the online training world, as you are bound to encounter some technical issues now and again, and the personal trainer is not physically in front of you. There is a screen than separates you from the person you are paying good money to watch your form, inspire you and motivate you. Not all trainers are as supportive when it comes to contact outside of your one-on-one sessions, and you probably won’t find out which trainer is right for you until you’ve invested some time and money.

So whether you use the Web for one-on-one personal training or customized programs you find online, the key is making it work for you. Do your research and get to know the platform you are working with and the trainer who will oversee your exercise program. Most importantly, like any other fitness program, be ready to make the change and follow through. Your best virtual health awaits you.

Information for this article was found at www.wello.com