Health at Dwelling: How the Pandemic is Altering Our Coaching

Show up on Zoom at 8:30 am each day, and trainer Linda Vilagi will be there live from Cleveland, Ohio to walk you through a workout routine. Ms. Vilagi has been offering online courses by subscription since last spring and establishing connections via tiny zoom windows, as she used to do personally.

The pandemic has caused widespread gym closures to shift some people’s approach to fitness – a shift the industry has quickly moved into. From buying weights to using exercise apps to connecting to groups online, the popularity of trained home workouts can be permanent.

As new hardware and software offerings expand the options for consumers, Ms. Vilagi points out that achieving fitness doesn’t have to be complicated. Live courses can build a community and contribute to accountability, they and others say. Members of their group have grown together closely. “If someone doesn’t show up for class,” says Ms. Vilagi, “someone else will say to me, ‘Hey, is Lori okay? I haven’t seen her in a few days. “

Lori, when you’re out there, your fitness class is waiting.

Linda Vilagi built her personal exercise and fitness business like anyone else – she personally worked with clients in gyms.

When strict bans were put in place last March, she started running fitness classes online, not as a sustainable business model, but “to keep everyone moving and preoccupied”. However, as the pandemic spread, Ms. Vilagi realized that there was an entirely new market to tap into if she could figure out how to use tiny zoom windows to inspire and create windows like she did personally.

So she started Linda’s Fit Club, offering live and pre-recorded group training courses to clients in the US and around the world six days a week. It’s a huge geographic expansion from their previous Cleveland store.

As a result of the pandemic, extensive gym closings have shifted the approach of some people like Ms. Vilagi and her clients to home fitness routines – a shift that the fitness industry has quickly moved into. From buying weights to using workout apps to connecting with groups online, home workouts can be enduring in popularity.

“The fitness lifestyle has changed radically because of the length of the pandemic, and I really believe these new habits will solidify,” said Ms. Vilagi. After 15 years as a personal trainer, she finds the transition to online remarkably easy. “I think you will see a hybrid approach [of in-home and in-gym training] go forward. “

Equinox and Gold’s Gym had started expanding their at-home offerings in recent years, and virtual fitness classes were a growing niche trend. But “I don’t think it would have caught on as quickly as it did” without the bans, says Ms. Vilagi. Your teaching is still going strong.

According to market research firm NPD Group, sales in all categories of fitness equipment had increased by 130% by May 2020, including weight benches, dumbbells, stationary bikes and yoga mats. Peloton, which sells top-end stationary bikes, treadmills, and subscriptions to online workouts, quadrupled its subscriptions to its app over the past year and expects continued revenue growth of at least $ 3.9 billion through fiscal 2021.

Alexis Garrod demonstrates an exercise via zoom in an empty gym on April 24, 2020. Ms. Garrod is the CrossFit Potrero Hill partner and head coach in San Francisco. The club currently offers courses only outdoors in order to comply with city ordinances.

Other companies are also relying on high-tech efforts. Mirror, Tempo and Tonal produce smart home fitness studios with a mirror-sized profile. Like stationary gyms, these companies are older than the pandemic. Their devices can display stats and exercise movements and, depending on the brand, offer a mix of artificial intelligence-based and live-stream courses. Apple has also stepped into the fitness streaming game with its paid subscription service Apple Fitness +.

Shadya Sanders was used to exercising five to six times a week and started doing exercises from memory in her living room in Rockville, Maryland at the start of the pandemic. When she was tired of kickboxing, she switched to skipping rope. Then she thought she was going to start lifting weights.

“You couldn’t get kettlebells, you couldn’t get dumbbells when I was looking for them,” says Ms. Sanders, a PhD student in atmospheric science at Howard University. She reached out to lift household items like 5-gallon water jugs. But then she received an email from the university announcing that Beyoncé had partnered with Peloton and was offering Howard students a free two-year membership.

“I downloaded the app and everything and put it on our television. Now, me and my family are going to do these workouts – arm lifts, leg strengthens, or a mix of a few 10 minute workouts. I love Beyoncé and now even more, ”says Ms. Sanders.

Users are also turning to free apps to record or even guide their workouts. Strava fitness tracking app registered 2 million new users every month in 2020 and attributed some of its growth to a “boom in global movement amid the COVID-19 pandemic”. Elsewhere, people have tuned in to the trainers’ personal online platforms.

“I have most of these online trainers on YouTube and Instagram that I watch,” says Ikem Ejimnkeonye, ​​a Prince George’s County, Maryland police officer, talking on the monitor while his little daughter coos in the background. “They give pointers to types of exercises you can do during the pandemic.”

For those who have not yet exercised at home, Ms. Vilagi says not to overthink things. Bodyweight exercises – planks, pushups, squats, and lunges – are great for beginners and those without equipment. Online courses or even traditional home exercise programs that have been around for decades and released on VHS or DVD, such as Beachbody, can keep things fresh for people who might get bored easily.

But the live classes, because they can build community, help with accountability most of all, she and others say. The members of their online offerings have grown together closely, says Ms. Vilagi. “If someone doesn’t come to class,” she explains, “someone else tells me, ‘Hey, is Lori okay? I haven’t seen her in a few days. ”

This sense of community is also spearheaded by some people who, because they want to engage with others for camaraderie and motivation, are eager to hit the local gym again. Ms. Sanders took external group exercise classes at her local fitness center this fall. Some of these classes have now moved indoors because of the cold and have used strict protocols such as: B. to register 24 hours before a class, wear a mask and take the temperature of the participants at the door.

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Given the time, money, and effort invested in setting up new exercise routines over the past year, some people may not return to their pre-pandemic fitness habits – at least not completely. In New Jersey, Maron Soueid, who built a series of pull-up bars in his garden this summer, says he has no plans to forget his pandemic-inspired handicraft.

“I may not spend as much time in the gym as I now have the option to use this pull-up bar at home,” said Soueid, associate professor at a local community college. “I still expect it to be used quite a lot, especially in summer.”

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