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Confused about your online fitness options? I'm here to help!

Isolation fitness is the new gym (for now)

With Covid-19 measures limiting our movement at access to fitness, the internet has become a chaotic explosion of workout options. All the online retailers are sold out of home fitness equipment (ask me about my quest to find a pair of 20kg olympic plates...) and there is a definite shift in consciousness - I have never seen so many people talking about their exercise - and I surround myself with fitness people!

In a way it is heartening to see a universal shift where people are becoming very aware of their health. It's necessary when, in all likelihood, many of us will have to fight a respiratory virus - the healthier you are to start with, the better your chance of a full recovery. Doctors have suggested we should prepare ourselves as we would for surgery.

As a fitness professional it is always in my mind that I am "the front line of preventative medicine". Fitness, nutrition, recovery and a balanced mindset make measurable differences in our instance of illness and our ability to mend when we need to.

The good news is that there is a lot of material out there. I am here to help you navigate it.

The world of fitness has changed overnight.

The shutdown of group fitness settings was an enormous wrench to people like me. First we had to decide whether to shut down ourselves. I stopped my dance classes fairly early on after wrangling with the balance between providing an important social and mental health space while protecting the vulnerable amongst my students. Then I got the call from the studio where I coach bootcamp-style classes, we had to be responsible, even though the official call to close hadn't gone out yet and some gyms were still encouraging attendance. A couple of days later the choice was made for all of us. All facilities were closed.

Now, there have always been online trainers, like me! I'm a hybrid trainer which means I train people in-person, online, and sometimes a mix of both.

But suddenly half the face-to-face fitness industry was left with no premises, no income and an odd sense of obsolescence coupled with calls from our clients to keep serving them, somehow. People need us, they just could no longer get to us.

So, to finish setting the scene, we've got our regular clients (both PT and group fitness) who still desperately want some continuity, we've got people who would normally train in a gym setting, now unable to, we've got people who are working from home and missing out on their walk to work, or just bored at home, we've got kids off school and we've got people who weren't previously into fitness, but are realising it's probably a good plan. The rules have changed, our working world is completely different and the ways we are used to operating aren't a good fit anymore. So how do we help them?

Lots of ways. So many ways that you're all getting decision fatigue and maybe are struggling to figure out which is right for you. I'm going to give you a hand, by breaking down the pros and cons of each.

Celebrity trainers - livecasts and videos.

Some of those best placed to get content out were trainers who already had a large following and the tech in place to start right away. You can get up every morning and do a bit of a HIIT workout with your kids and a cheeky cockney fitness dude.

This is brilliant. It's engaging loads of people, bringing households together (I did this with my kids this morning to warm up before my training). It's getting people up and moving, it's raising awareness of the kinds of things we can do to keep fit at home. It's consistently delivered and it's free.

The downside is that it is also very generic. The exercises aren't accessible to everyone and you'll often see "novelty" movements that take a bit of skill to get the benefit from. They also tend to be short and not too challenging. There is no progression.

Do it if: You want to get off your bum and move for half an hour.

Other trainers - livecasts and videos

A lot of us started putting out similar content when we went into isolation. It's a quick and easy way for us to reach out and help people - and frankly, it keeps us sane too.

I run livecasts fairly randomly from my Facebook page, a mix of a few different kinds of workout. The older ones are still there and you can keep notified about upcoming ones by following my page, or on my Instagram.

Most trainers work in a particular niche, so if you find a trainer who "fits" you, their casts will probably be better suited to you than the celeb workouts which are aimed at a much wider audience.

Again, these workouts will usually be shorter, non-progressive and without feedback or coaching. But - it's free!

I suspect that the glut of this kind of thing will tail off as the non-celeb trainers need to shift their focus towards paying their bills, setting up better online systems, or run out of momentum - so get it while it's hot.

Do it if: You want to try some different trainers and get a bit of variety.

Interactive online classes

For a much better value workout, you need 2 way interaction. If a trainer can see their class participants, they can better decide how to explain a movement, and correct your form. They can see if you are struggling and give you an alternate - you can even ask questions.

Right now, connection is really important to us, the opportunity to get together in a group, see and wave at your training mates, have a little chat before or after is absolutely priceless.

Classes like this take place on meeting applications, like Zoom, so you need to be able to operate that (though most are easily accessed by clicking a link) and if you want your trainer to see you, you're going to need a webcam (phones and tablets work just fine). Most classes of this kind will charge a fee.

The range of classes available on this kind of platform is much more varied. You should be able to find something at your level, with a trainer who works with people like you.

I am currently running a schedule of online classes, find out more here.

Do it if: You miss the social aspect of classes, you benefit from more guidance from an instructor, or you have barriers (like being injury prone, pregnant or older) that make generic fitness less accessible to you.

Small group classes/workshops

Like an interactive class, but more specific. If you think of the online classes as being like attending a drop-in session at your leisure centre, this is more like signing up for a workshop or intensive.

Training through meeting software, you'll be in a small group (5-10 people), working through a progressive group programme.

For example, I am about to put out a 4 week kettlebell programme, which will allow a small group of people - under supervision - to learn some really funky kettlebell techniques.

Small group, and consistent attendance ramps up the social aspect. Expect to pay a little more than you would for a regular class, and to commit to a course of sessions.

Do it if: If you want to make marked improvement in your fitness, or learn something new.

Semi-private personal training (online)

Want the individualised programme of your own personal trainer, but with a lower price tag and a couple of training buddies?

Semi-private training involves a group of 2-6 people training together, but following their own programme tailored to their own needs and goals. You may also get a programme to follow at home between sessions, plus nutrition and lifestyle advice. Usually (though not always) groups are composed of individuals with similar needs or goals, or families/couples that want to train together.

This is great if you have very specific needs or if you really want to chase those goals. Not all trainers offer semi-private training, but if you find one that does, it usually comes in at less than half the price of one to one training, which for those of us navigating financial insecurity right now, is a real bonus.

Do it if: You need your own programme, either to push yourself or in order to access fitness for your unique needs.

One to one online training

Online Personal Training is not new in the slightest. We've been doing it for years!

It's often overlooked because people prefer face-to-face interaction, but right now, it's the best choice for people who are really serious about investing in their fitness. Online training means having a programme written for you, with video call sessions with your trainer for coaching, discussion, or carrying out workouts.

Video calling means that you can train "with" your trainer, from your own home. Frankly, angles notwithstanding, I don't feel there is much difference here. I almost never touch my PT clients, I don't find it necessary most of the time (but that's another whole blog right there), so apart from perhaps handing over equipment, it's much like training in home visits.

For a few years I have been training people who aren't able to leave home to train, or want to train with me, but are located too far away. It's a style of training which has been underestimated, but it works.

Do it if: You want to train privately and focus on your specific needs and goals.

Stay in and get active!

There's such a rich variety of options available to you right now. You could invest 30 minutes, 5 times a week on livecast training or you could go all out and come out of isolation all Sarah Connor. I suspect most will just do the best they can to stay well. Whatever your choice, I hope this has made it clearer and I wish you the best.

Interested in any of the options listed above?
I'm offering:
Livecasts through Facebook Live
Online classes
Small group training (follow my Facebook page for updates)
Semi-private and 121 online personal training. with adjusted price plans and duration to suit you - just get in touch and ask.


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