Are online or face-to-face trainings better?

(CNN) — When the coronavirus pandemic temporarily closed gyms across the country in 2020, many people chose to do their workouts at home through online instructors.

Even after the gyms reopened, a good number of people chose to stay home. That’s probably why online training ranked first in the World Fitness Trends Survey for 2021, a poll conducted annually by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Dennis Guerrero, co-owner and head trainer of fitness platform Life Outside the Box, leads a virtual class from his home in Long Beach, New York, on November 8, 2020. Credit: Al Bello / Getty Images

Online training involves the use of digital broadcast technology to deliver exercise programs geared toward groups or individuals, and encompasses both live-streamed and pre-recorded workouts. Today, with the omicron variant running around the world and many gym-goers thinking of going back to classes online, this trend seems to be here to stay. Or at least one version of it.

“I anticipate that a hybrid model will be the trend of the future,” says Jennifer Rewkowski, vice president of Community Health and Wellness for the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, which offers in-person and online trainings. “The world has changed a lot in the last 19 months when it comes to working hours and places, studies, etc. For some people, the on-demand world really works,” he says by email.

But is one training format better than the other? Experts say it depends. Here are several factors to consider when deciding whether to head to the gym or your living room for your next workout.

Important note: Before starting any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you feel pain. Also, be sure to check the covid-19 guide in your area.

Online trainings are more accessible and less expensive

One of the most popular reasons to exercise with an online video is that it offers maximum comfort. You don’t have to get out of bed at 5 a.m. to get to that 6 a.m. training class, which could be crowded by the time you get there.

Instead, you can put the video at home whenever it suits you. What if you are traveling? No problem. You can access your training through your phone, tablet or laptop.

Another advantage is the price. Gym memberships can be expensive, while online workouts are less, and sometimes even free. The YMCA of Irving Park in Chicago, for example, charges $ 52 a month for an adult subscription (27 and over), plus an entrance fee of $ 52. The Les Mills + online program, on the other hand , offers a 30-day free trial of its more than 1,500 workouts. If you like them, it only costs $ 9.99 a month when you sign up for a year.

However, there is a clarification regarding the price. Some online workouts require you to have specific equipment, such as stability balls or weights, that you may have to purchase. And if you fall in love with Peloton’s popular home workout and simply must own one of their specialty bikes, be prepared to fork out between $ 1,500 and $ 2,500.

A person rides his Peloton exercise bike at his home in San Anselmo, California, on April 6, 2020.

In-person workouts are often safer

One of the main disadvantages of online trainings is that there is no experienced instructor to give you feedback. “When you are in a structured and supervised environment, someone who knows what they are doing can help you,” says John Quindry, president of the University of Montana School of Integrative Physiology and Athletic Training. “If you’re not in shape, or you’re going too strong, or you’re not going strong enough, these things can be remedied when supervised.”

Martina Knight instructs a reduced barre class, with participants maintaining their distancing, at the SLO Yoga Center in San Luis Obispo, California, on March 3, 2021.

Also, if you’re exercising alone at home and you fall, or suffer a cardiac or metabolic event, you could really be in trouble.

That said, in-person classes aren’t perfect when it comes to safety. Instructors may not notice someone’s poor form if the class is packed, or if someone intentionally stands in the back out of shyness, Quindry said.

Regardless of whether you choose a fitness center or an online option, make sure the instructors are qualified, especially if you have a concerning medical condition.

Anyone can upload an exercise video to the Internet, and some gyms hire instructors with minimal qualifications.

In-person workouts can make you more responsible

If you take a yoga class or sweep with your friend every Tuesday, chances are you’ll go even on days when you’re not feeling particularly up to it. After all, you don’t want to disappoint her. But no one will find out if you don’t take an online training.

You can be more motivated by the variety of online training options

In-person training options are highly dependent on the center. Smaller gyms may offer only a handful of classes, such as yoga, cycling, and kickboxing. Other facilities may have a wide variety of classes available, but charge a fee for them. In contrast, online options often offer a wide range of classes. And these plethora of options may be just what you need to avoid boredom and stay motivated to exercise regularly.

Regardless of whether you prefer in-person trainings, online sessions, or a little of each, the key is to stay active, says Jafra Thomas, an associate professor in the department of Kinesiology and Public Health at California State Polytechnic University, San Francisco. Luis Obispo.

“Unfortunately, exercise cultures encourage comparison with artificial beauty standards, or unrealistic expectations about when the benefits will be seen,” he said. “Although platform builders or instructors rarely promote an appreciation for movement, physical activity provides many health benefits.”

– Melanie Radzicki McManus is a freelance writer specializing in hiking, travel, and fitness.


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