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Ever heard of virtual trainers like Wello, Live Streaming Fitness, or Powhow? I’m not talking about fitness apps on your smartphone or workout DVDs; I mean actual, real-life human trainers who provide exercise classes via webcam. Depending on the platform the trainer uses, you can take small group classes or personal sessions all with the help of the internet.
There are several pros and cons of virtual trainers and workout classes, but as with all forms of exercise, anything is better than sitting on the couch.
Pro: You Never Have to Leave Your Home
This makes it ideal for introverts, frequent travelers, stay-at-home parents, and busy bees. You can save yourself a significant amount of time by attending virtual classes from your living room instead of driving across town in traffic to a traditional gym. When you’re strapped for enough hours to do everything every day, it’s a nice way to make sure you do have time to work out.
If you find yourself traveling too much to justify a gym membership, then virtual trainers are the best solution. You can attend classes with your favorite trainer from wherever you are, whenever you have the opportunity. And for stay-at-home parents it can mean the difference between getting in shape or gaining weight. If you can’t join a gym with a daycare, then no problem! You get to squeeze in a workout from home with a real trainer while your kids play happily in their room or outside (or even attempt to keep up with your moves). Everyone wins this way.
Con: Technology Can Glitch
Sadly, this isn’t always something you can prevent. WIFI, browser choice, and operating systems can all have hiccups every now and then. When you sign up for a virtual class, you run the risk of someone’s computer freezing up, WIFI going out, mic/speaker not working properly, and a slew of other technological issues. Just be prepared for the possibility so you can try to fix any issue that pops up.
The best way to somewhat avoid this is to make sure you have a strong WIFI signal, use an up-to-date operating system, and open the class up in the recommended web browser.
Pro: You’re By Yourself
If you’re not into large groups of strangers, smelling other people’s sweat, or simply exercising in public (which I totally get), then virtual training sessions really are a godsend. You can exercise in the privacy of your own home, free from prying eyes, without being anxious that someone will see you at an unflattering angle.
Bonus: if you take an online yoga class you don’t have to worry about farting in a room full of people. (Hey, everyone’s had that happen at least once.)
Con: No Contact With People IRL
However, there’s something infectious about being in a room of people who are also there to work up a sweat and be healthy. When you have people nearby also suffering through the burpees, you feel bolstered to keep jumping. It’s like High School Musical—you’re all in this together. So virtual classes can be somewhat of a letdown in comparison, even though you have a trainer and at least two other people joining in from their homes. Yeah, you can hear each other and see each other, but it’s not the same type of camaraderie.
Plus, you don’t have the full opportunity to meet new people and make friends. Sure, you might meet some rando chick in there, but the chances of you actually forming a friendship are slim to none.
Pro: You Learn on Your Own
When you attend a class at a gym the instructor can help you adjust your form so you avoid injury and get the full benefits of the exercise. This is great, but when you’re working with a virtual trainer, they can’t do the adjusting for you. You’re forced to figure out how to make that physical change on your own, which is really important. Virtual trainers will tell you what to change, but you get the opportunity to learn how to do it yourself.
If you like to workout in the gym on your own, this is an important skill. You need to be able to notice when your form is off and know exactly how to fix it. Trainers aren’t always going to be there to help you out, after all.
Con: You Need to Have Equipment at Your Home
This depends on what kind of classes you’re going to be doing virtually. For the most part though, you’re likely going to need some weights and a yoga mat. You might also need resistance bands or even multiple sizes of weights. Keep this cost in mind before you sign up for virtual classes. It can quickly become just as expensive, if not more, than just a regular gym membership.
Pro: You Can Work Out With People From All Over
If you have friends scattered across the country or even globe, then taking a virtual class together is a great way to stay connected. There’s nothing like a good workout buddy to keep you motivated.
Virtual classes also allow you to work out with trainers who are far away from you. If there’s a trainer you really loved in person, then you can still take classes with them if one of you moves. Heck, you can even find celebrity virtual trainers online! And how cool is that?
Con: Your Living Room Might Not = Motivation
This might not be a huge deal to you, but sometimes setting will make or break your workout. Consider if you’re the kind of person who feeds off of her surroundings during class before you purchase a 10-virtual-class deal. If you don’t like working out in your living room, then try to find another spot in your home that works better, like a back patio. You can even create a designated workout spot if you want to!