Fitness on Demand
After a long week, I’m looking forward to my Thursday Zumba shakedown. It’s raining and traffic is a nightmare. Good thing I only have to walk 10 steps from my front door to my laptop to be in the front row. That’s because the class I’m taking is online, with an instructor leading me through the moves in real time.
Anyone who’s ever stood despairingly in front of a screen watching a perky, rail-thin YouTube sensation bend in superhuman ways knows that interaction and feedback are essential components to getting fit. Enter the next generation of virtual fitness: live online classes and training sessions. It’s a method that’s becoming increasingly popular with local instructors—and their busy clients.
Gina Fay (pictured), owner of DanceFit, in Brookline and Natick, first brought her group fitness classes to the Web four years ago, when she took a break from the studio after her first son was born. She continues to lead live classes from the comfort of her own home, interacting with participants via Skype as they follow along with the moves. It’s a concept that’s proved popular with DanceFit’s busy clientele: Of the studio’s 100 or so regular virtual clients, 80 have never set foot in a physical studio. “Repeat business is very high because it’s a real class,” says Fay of the studio’s $15 barre, yoga, Zumba, and Pilates Web sessions. “I watch form to make sure they are lifting the right leg or opening their hips.”
For Jeff Butterworth—the owner of RX Strength Training, in Somerville—going digital was essential to his business: He remotely trains Miss United States contestants who live all over the country. But you don’t have to be on the pageant circuit to sign up for Butterworth’s online package. For around $100 a month, participants get twice-weekly personal Skype sessions, plus four to five written workouts with coaching and prerecorded instructional videos—“like a virtual manual,” he says.
The one drawback? While the trainer can see you and correct your form over video chat, he or she can also peep your untidy digs. “Clients ask, ‘Will you be able to see me? My house is messy,’” Fay says with a laugh. “I tell them that they just have to clear enough space to lay down a yoga mat. We see kids running around, we see dirty laundry—that is all part of the program.”