Since COVID first came on the scene in late 2019, the growth of online fitness classes has exploded. From strictly online providers to brick and mortar gyms who have adapted to offer classes over software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and more, there is a flavour of online fitness on the interwebs for just about everyone.
With that in mind, and with the reality that COVID will be with us for a while, here are some tips to enhance your online fitness experience. Whether you are a seasoned Zoomer or a rookie just starting your online fitness journey, these tips will help you get the most out of your class.
- Prep Your Space!: Choose a spot in the house that has enough room to move and will be somewhat private. If you need to move some furniture around to make space, do this in advance. Let your kids/spouse/work know that you are busy and block it off on your calendar. If you have pets, barricade them out of your space. Dogs and cats tend to think that working out is your signal to them to play and they love to interfere. As fun as this sounds, it gets old pretty fast and can be distracting when you are trying to focus. This is your one hour a day to work on yourself, so let everyone know and make it a part of your routine.
- Take It To The Big Screen: Find the biggest screen you can to show your meeting software so you can see your coach/instructor when they are demoing movements or going through some teaching. You can cast or airdrop your screen from an Ipad/tablet/laptop/phone to a smart tv or to a device like an Apple TV, Firestick or Chromecast. You can also plug it in through an HDMI/VGA port on your computer to your TV. Here is a good article on how to get your class on your TV. Second choice would be to stream the class on your desktop/laptop or tablet. The bigger the screen the better. Trying to follow along on your phone should be a last resort if you can't make anything else work.
- Smile for the Camera!: Next tackle your camera set up. Top priority should be a wide angle view where your coach can see you whether you are flat on your belly doing a burpee or floating through the air jumping onto a plyo box (or couch!). Being in screen for all movements will allow your coach to see and correct you keeping you safe! You can use the built in camera on your device or opt for a plug in usb webcam. Most webcams also have built in microphones making it easier to be heard if you are in an interactive class. If you don't have a webcam and want the additional flexibility of being able to place your camera away from your display, there are several apps that will allow allow you to use a mobile phone (even one of those old ones stashed in your junk drawer) as a webcam. Here is a great article outlining how to set up your phone as a camera.
- Get Some Wattage in the Cottage! The last part of your set up should be your sound. If you are using a smart TV, the built-in speakers may be enough to hear the instructor/coach and any music they are playing, but if you are using a laptop/desktop or tablet you would be better served by some external speakers or headphones. Whether these are wired or bluetooth speakers or headphones is up to you, your budget and your preferences. Wired speakers will generally give you more bang for your buck and have the added bonus of being as easy to use as just plugging them in. They won't drop a signal and you have an almost infinite selection starting from about $15 all the way up to $1000 or more. Bluetooth speakers allow you more flexibility in where you place them as they can be up to 30 feet away from their source and you don't have to worry about wires. They also can be used for many more applications as any device with Bluetooth can connect and be used. The downside to Bluetooth speakers is that they are generally a little pricier for similar or inferior sound quality, need to be recharged between uses and occasionally you may have some difficulty connecting to your device. Lastly, using bluetooth headphones can be a good option if you are using a shared space and don't want to disturb the rest of your household or neighbours. I would suggest finding a good sport pair that are sweat proof and stay securely in your ears through dynamic movements. My experience is that headphones that secure over your ear work better than the buds that are pushed into the ear. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to chase down an ear bud with a mind of it's own, mid work out.
- Pass the Test!: Once you have your sweet set up, it's time to make sure everything works. Turn off all of the devices you will be using and go from everything off to logged on and ready to rock. See how long it takes and make a note so you don't get surprised the first time you log on. Any hiccups or snags? If so, iron them out in advance to make your class seamless. Do you have your meeting ID or link handy? Write it down if it stays the same or bookmark it. If it doesn't stay the same, make sure you know how it will be delivered to you every class (email, text or...?) so you know where to look to cut down on prep time.
- Commit to the Process and Have Fun!: Know going in that not every experience is going to be perfect. With technology and the internet involved, there are bound to be some problems. Don't stress. Roll with the punches. If you get kicked off, just log back on and rejoin the class. Any good coach will have experienced this before and will bring you up to speed in no time. Most online classes will mute the participants when you first enter to minimize distractions. If you need to ask a question or make a comment, get familiar with how to un-mute yourself. You can also ask questions to your instructor through a built-in chat feature or broadcast a question or encouragement to the whole class. Make sure you know who you are directing your question to before you send it, so you don't direct a private question to everyone! And most importantly of all, have fun! Get involved. Ask questions. Encourage your class and cheer them on. In this time of increased isolation, lean on your coaches and classmates for social interaction. I guarantee they are feeling the same way and will be happy to oblige you in a little banter (at the appropriate time!).
We know that taking your first online class can seem daunting and a little weird at first. But it is definitely worth it. Take advantage of the convenience of working out at home, with little or no equipment. You don't have to worry about bad weather, long commutes, forgetting your water bottle, feeling self conscious about being new and more. It might not be your first choice for physical fitness and, for many, will never replace the camaraderie and environment of a brick and mortar gym, but for the time being it makes a great way to stay on track during social distancing or even as an occasional fill in on those days you just can't make it in. If you have any questions on what you need to get started, reach out at the email below or send us a DM on any of our socials. We'd be happy to show you how we do things and help get you started in the world of online fitness!