Let's Get Physical! (Virtually)

It's almost 6:30 in the morning, and the house is finally quiet. My wife and kids are asleep, but I’m wide awake and ready to seize the day. These moments of solitude are few and far between, so I try to use them as productively as possible. Some mindful reflection, a brisk walk, or some much needed exercise has always been my favorite way to start the day.

How Virtual Fitness Trends Have Enabled Creative Avenues for Exercise

Before the global pandemic changed our daily routines, I used to hit the gym every morning. Aside from some vigorous senior citizens walking on treadmills, the gym was all but empty, leaving me to feel like the buffest guy in the room. And while I am a Goldberg, I’m not exactly built like former professional wrestler, Goldberg. But being able to lift weights and work out always made me feel larger than life. Exercising has a way of making all of us feel happier and more confident.

But when gyms around the world locked their doors, many people were worried their workout days were numbered. Thankfully, we were wrong.

As our work and personal lives have moved online, people have found new and creative ways to exercise. The virtual fitness trends that have arisen in recent months are perfect for those of us looking to stay in shape, but they aren’t exactly new. Back in the 1980s, Jane Fonda launched a fitness and aerobics revolution with the release of her home video workouts. Men, women, and children could simply pop a tape into their VCR and burn away the calories. But watching a recorded video offers only so much motivation. You could easily ignore the enthusiastic direction of another ‘80s health guru, Richard Simmons, and, say, eat a donut without feeling his wrath. But with today’s real-time technology, there’s no escape from the watchful eye of an online trainer. Of course, all this wouldn't be possible without cloud solutions, which enable gym rats and casual practitioners alike to get and stay in shape wherever they are.

Cycling Together, Live From Home

Long before the term "social distancing" entered our shared vocabulary, Peloton was already well-known for offering virtual fitness classes that users could join on their own schedules using their own bicycles, treadmills, or even just basic equipment. Once people were encouraged to work from home, usage spiked. According to TIME, Peloton users logged more than one million workouts in a single day on March 25, 2020. The next month, Peloton's debut "Live from Home" class welcomed over 23,000 participants and promptly broke the company's previous record for a live class.

Why was Peloton able to engage its members so successfully, flourishing at a time when so many fitness businesses have been closed? Thanks to cloud solutions, Peloton was able to deliver an immersive, interactive experience that gave members not just an opportunity to exercise, but also to become part of a vibrant fitness community. Although the thousands of live video classes spanning from cycling to meditation are the main attraction, Peloton members can take things up a notch by pursuing targeted training programs and challenging themselves to achieve specific fitness goals. What's more, they don't have to do it alone—social features allow members to find and follow one another, offering mutual support and encouragement along the way.

But they are not alone.

 

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Yogaia, the world's first interactive online yoga studio, gives its members incredible flexibility and choice in their yoga experience. Yoga practitioners of all levels and ages can take live classes anytime they choose from top-tier yogis located across the globe. Yogaia members can even receive personalized guidance on their yoga poses, just as they would in the studio, if they opt to turn on their camera. Meditation sessions are also available, and all classes are made available for on-demand playback afterward.

This flexibility is especially valuable at a time when many people are balancing the demands of work and family at home and can't always adhere to a fixed class schedule. Little ones can even join in the fun, making yoga a meaningful family activity. Thanks to the efficiency of the cloud video solutions Yogaia has invested in, subscribers can access all of these sessions on their device of choice for less than the cost of a single class at a brick-and-mortar yoga studio. It's a budget-friendly option at a moment when health and well-being are top of mind for everyone.

How Communications APIs Enable Fitness Innovation

Communications APIs make all of these exciting fitness innovations possible. For example, thanks to the Vonage Video API, Yogaia instructors can offer feedback and encouragement to each participant in real time without allowing members to see one another. That way, distractions are minimized, and everyone can focus on perfecting their yoga poses.

The most successful virtual fitness classes leverage messaging APIs to enable the member-to-member communications that bring their community together in a virtual setting, whether that's by expressing themselves using hashtags or finding classmates to follow and cheer on. Payment APIs underpin the entire experience, allowing members to quickly subscribe and manage their payments from the device that's most convenient—whether that's a smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, or even a smart TV. All of these APIs are flexible and scalable, empowering fitness businesses to expand the services and offerings they provide in a virtual setting.

Tips for Strengthening Your Virtual Footprint

If your business is looking to offer virtual fitness classes so that your members can safely exercise while honoring social distancing guidelines, here are a few tips for success:

1. Give your instructors the right training and resources. Not all instructors have experience teaching online classes, so they may need training on how to use video conferencing software, as well as guidance on how to create the right lighting and use the right camera angles. That way, participants can better follow their instructions during class.

2. As you go virtual, you can go national—or even global. Many personal trainers and gym owners have reported that new exercise trends have created a demand for their services and enabled them to reach new clients far beyond their local community. With that in mind, it might be worth thinking about who you can serve now that you couldn't before the virtual fitness trend took off.

3. Choose cloud solutions that are flexible and scalable. Some fitness instructors have had to quickly scale up their course offerings and invest in new technology to meet the increased demand for their virtual fitness classes. For this reason, it's wise to choose cloud solutions that can grow with your business.

New Exercise Trends Are Here to Stay

Virtual fitness trends aren't likely to lose adrenaline anytime soon. In fact, they may just be getting started. As The New York Times reported, recent research from Club Intel, a data firm that tracks the fitness industry, indicates that 74% of clubs and studios offered group on-demand or live classes by the third week of April. When you consider that just 5% of clubs and studios offered virtual fitness classes last October, that's a major uptick in a short period of time. Whatever the future holds, one thing is clear: Virtual fitness trends are likely here to stay. I for one enjoy starting my day with exercises I can do right in my basement. Look out Goldberg—this Goldberg is coming for your title!

 

By Michael Goldberg Editor-in-Chief, Content Marketing

Michael is Vonage's Editor in Chief. When he's not writing and reading about technology, he enjoys watching the Jets and Mets try not to lose and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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