Staying active with closed fitness centers and gyms can be difficult, but online fitness classes have become a popular alternative, and it’s a trend that may continue.
For Brockville, Ont. fitness instructor Jenni Stotts beats the winter blues by offering free online workout classes.
“It keeps us moving, keeps our daily activities functional and helps us all live a little more,” Stotts told CTV News Ottawa from his downtown apartment.
As she was in and out of her office gym at the Brockville YMCA due to the pandemic, she told herself she would beat this recent closure by opening her phone.
“I was going to take time off from work, I decided I needed something to stay motivated and motivate some of my friends and family,” Stotts said. “So I decided to take this time to start doing things online and reaching out.”
She offers daily challenges and different 30-45 minute workouts through her Facebook group five days a week.
“We have total body, low-impact classes, and circuit-style, hit workouts that are a little more intense,” Stotts said, gaining nearly 100 followers just in the first week.
“It’s really awesome, really inspiring for me because I’ve seen them join my daily challenges and then they post and people comment on each other’s posts and motivate each other,” she added.
People like northern resident Debbie Ridgers join Stotts classes from a small space in her basement.
“I did gentle body toning and absolutely Zumba and Yoga,” Ridgers said. “It absolutely makes me happier, makes me more able to focus, to have routine and structure in my life.”
According to the Global Fitness Trends Survey for 2021, participation in online training now takes the top spot, with wearable technology and bodyweight training rounding out the top three.
“Online is great because you can do it from the comfort of your own home and you can do it at a time that’s convenient for you,” Stotts said.
“The internet provides an option for those who can’t get to the gym at the same times or, you know, reduced hours, things like that,” she added. “It can be a little more difficult to get to the gym.”
Both Stotts and Ridgers agree that by training at home you lose a significant chunk of class.
“I love the social aspect,” Ridgers said. “I think what I’m going to end up doing is I’m going to go back to school physically, but when I can’t, I’ll definitely accept the privilege of being able to take his lessons online.”
With Blue Monday also on the horizon next week, known as the most depressing day of the year, being active can also improve your mental health.
“It’s one of the toughest days for a lot of people, so I just encourage you to dance, do some yoga, or whatever makes you feel good,” Stotts said. “Personally, I find physical activity to be an important part of my mental health, so I know the lockdowns have been particularly difficult for me.”
“I think fitness definitely affects my mental health,” Ridgers added. “I love yoga. I never thought yoga would become such an important part of my life. It taught me to relax more, be more in the moment, breathe and manage all the anxiety issues I feel about my family, my friends, COVID in general.”
“There are a lot of people making resolutions in January,” Stotts added. “Of course with this closure it’s been a bit more difficult, but having this online gives you the flexibility to start anyway so maybe we can create a routine.”
For anyone interested in joining Stotts’ online classes, her Facebook group is called Fitness with Jenni.