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Zoe Bingley-Pullin: Health Trend - Virtual Training

Zoe Bingley-Pullin: Health Trend - Virtual Training

Ironically, I started writing this article a while back. A series of back-to-back work trips had me suddenly exploring workout videos and apps I could use alone in my hotel room. Whilst it wasn’t the same as stepping foot in the gym, I have become quite the convert. I realised that online training offered me an effective way to maintain my fitness when I couldn’t get to the gym. Other pluses were the versatility to fit into my schedule, it was time-saving, could suit my hotel environment and the lack of available equipment.

Fast forward a few months and thanks to COVID-19, virtual training has now been thrust into the spotlight. It seems that everyone is doing it or at least talking about it. Have you tried it yet? In this article I’ll cover the pros and cons of the home workout, provide some tips on how to get started and list some of Australia’s best for you to sample.


Pros of Virtual Training

With virtual training, there is literally something for everyone – regardless of whether you’re into running, HIIT, boxing, dancing, yoga or tai chi, you’re sure to find workout videos that are right for you. So, you want to try handstand Pilates? It’s probably out there somewhere.

One of the best things about training in cyberspace is flexibility. Not only are you the one who’s in control of your at-home gym timetable, but you can generally choose from a wide range of classes of different durations to suit your mood, motivation and time. Speaking of time, you’ll no longer be commuting to and from the gym so that’s more time to workout or an extra moment for you.

Hygiene is another big plus, especially right now. Your home workout space is your own and it’s completely uncontaminated by anyone else. You’ll be saved from the sweat-slicked machines, stinky floor mats, manky boxing gloves and that lingering body odour smell!

You may well be better off financially with online training options. For a start, you could definitely find yourself enough free content to last a lifetime. If you’re keen on a subscription to a certain platform then it may cost you, but only a fraction of a typical gym membership fee.

Lastly, a somewhat overlooked advantage is in the technology. While lots of gyms these days have gone more high-tech, the online workouts often offer you more as they’ve been built with the technology rather than retro-fitted to it. The benefits are in the technique and timing of each movement as well as tracking features to monitor progress and motivate you.


Cons of Virtual Training

The main downside of this training is that it can be difficult to motivate yourself. In a regular studio, you tend to have a crowd, the music and an instructor who is pushing you to try harder. Most people will rise to the atmosphere and you can’t exactly recreate that in your own home.

If you don’t live alone, there may also be lots of distractions at your place that make it hard to focus properly. Having the right amount of space to stretch out in is also a common problem, though heading to the backyard could be an option if you’ve got one. Equipment is the other key missing ingredient here, so if you’re not set up with weights, steps, bars and treadmills then make sure you choose an appropriate workout for you. Many of the good ones will tell you upfront what equipment, if any, is required.


Where to go to get started

If you’ve never done this before, here’s a few options to explore.  It can be as simple as keying in search terms to Google such as ‘best hatha yoga workout’ or ‘boxing classes online’ and seeing what you discover. You may find dedicated websites that offer subscriptions to access their content or freely shared workouts. YouTube hosts tonnes of fitness content, so it can be a good idea to start there and do your searching.

Both FaceBook and Instagram are also great resources with short videos you can watch back, or live sessions you can join at a scheduled time. Just sign up to follow any fitness gurus you admire or use the search feature. Try your App store on your phone or tablet to see what’s available there for download.

If you do have a gym membership, definitely check whether your centre is offering an online alternative at this time – many of them are! And if you already have a relationship with a personal trainer, many are now offering one on one sessions over video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Skype or FaceTime.

From a tech perspective, there’s very little you need these days. Just a phone or computer with the internet will get you started. Having a camera is only necessary if you want the instructor to see you.  The other consideration is that some apps may be designed to only work on either an Apple or android device so keep this in mind when choosing.


Some of the best virtual training programs to try

Here are just a few you might like to check out, but with so many more available right now and most offering discounts or free trials, don’t be limited to just these! Do your own research or ask around for recommendations.

Centr from Chris Hemsworth – workout with Chris and other world-class trainers on HIIT, boxing, strength and more. Free trial, then $10+/month.

Les Mills On Demand – over 800 strength, cardio, HIIT and dance workouts including gym favourites BodyPump, BodyCombat, BodyAttack, BodyBalance and RPM via streaming or app. Free trial, then $25/month.

YMCA 360 – great for beginners, kids or older people, includes bootcamp, barre, yoga, weightlifting, Tai Chi, Y Box and soccer drills. Via streaming or app. Free.

Barre – for hundreds of barre, yoga and Pilates workouts online or via the app. Free trial, then $25/month.

Nike Run Club app – not just running but also strength, core and cardio. Was $15/month but now free.

Yogaholics from Power Living – yoga and meditation for $12/month

Sydney Dance Company – virtual studio classes including ballet, jazz & hip hop $12 each or $28/week

Since going into isolation, I’ve also loved making at-home fitness something I can do with my daughter. We love doing fun workouts like PE with Joe or Cosmic Kids Yoga together.

So, when the gyms and yoga studios finally open back up again, will you head in there? Or like so many other things, has Coronavirus permanently changed the way we live? With the time and economic advantages, perhaps virtual training is yet another thing we will hold onto long after this crisis has passed.