8 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Virtual Workouts
Virtual workout classes surged in popularity as many turned to online programs during lockdown over the last two years.
Today, many of us are still feeling lingering burn out with so much screen time after a crash course in doing business, visiting family and friends, and doing telehealth appointments through a screen.
So how can you possibly enjoy a virtual class after all the screen time you’ve already had? How can a virtual class give you the benefits of an in-person class?
Read on for the answer to these two common fitness questions!
This article outlines tips for getting the most from your virtual workout classes — plus pointers to help you enjoy your online workouts along your fitness journey.
Benefits of Virtual Workout Classes
The benefits of taking a virtual workout class seem pretty obvious at face value.
Of course, online workout classes fit better into busy schedules. There are hundreds of quality online workouts ranging from 5-minute quickies to comprehensive 60-minute classes.
Plus, you can skip the lines at the gym, wear whatever you choose, and unabashedly try new moves without the pressure of onlookers. But there is another great reason to try virtual workouts that you may have not considered before.
You’ve probably heard something about different styles of learning. Usually, we will fall more dominantly into one of these categories: visual, auditory, reading/writing, or kinesthetic.
The great news is that our brains can adapt and actually grow better at using different senses with practice, thanks to neuroplasticity. When we are taking a virtual workout class we can actually grow our proprioceptive awareness.
Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense its position and movements in space without sight. Science has shown us that people who have higher levels of proprioceptive awareness experience lower pain levels also.
Having good proprioception increases our ability to balance, which is a super important factor as we age.
8 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Virtual Workouts
Maybe your free time is very limited due to a heavy work schedule, maybe you are the mother or father of young children and you have short windows of time to take care of yourself, or maybe you are making the smart choice to supplement in-person training that you do.
Whatever the reason you find yourself perhaps newly trying out online workout classes, here are some tips to help you get the most out of them. Even if you were a trendsetter and have been doing online classes way before Covid-19, you may find some useful ideas here to try out in your next virtual workout.
1. Use your Auditory Skills to the Max
If you aren’t naturally good at using your auditory sense to take direction, there are ways to strengthen this ability.
If you are taking an in-person class, challenge yourself and don’t watch your instructor the whole time. Hear the direction and see if you can respond. If you are taking a class online, do the exact same thing — look long enough to be sure you are following along and then look away and feel your body as you hear the cues.
You can also close your eyes during exercises that are safe for this and increase your proprioception even more. Another tip is to repeat your online selections so that you grow more confident and comfortable with translating words into movement.
You might even find that with increased practice you become a better listener to the loved ones in your life and to others in general! Words will begin to stimulate your connection to the physical aspect of your life and body.
2. Create a Space for Movement
We know consistency is key to achieving our long and short-term goals. Still, everyday distractions often derail our best intentions, especially when trying to establish a regular at-home movement practice. This is why thoughtfully setting up your home for movement in advance is so helpful.
Creating a space for movement can help you sidestep roadblocks that might have you delaying your at-home practice. Whether you are exclusively working out at home or supplementing your in-person studio classes with on-demand pilates and yoga training, these 5 tips will help you easily set up your home for movement to reach your wellness goals.
3. Tap Into Your Mind-Body Connection
Our kinesthetic sense refers to the sensory input that occurs within the body.
Ways you can tap into it is to simply notice your muscles contracting and releasing, to sense the position of your spine as you lay on the floor, or how you can keep one part of your body still while you move another.
When you’re taking a virtual workout class — or an in-person class — calmly thinking about and noticing these things, the easier it will get.
Don’t grow frustrated if you aren’t able to feel something that very day but relax and trust that the same way you strengthen a muscle through consistent work, you can also gradually grow and reinforce neural pathways and your ability to use other senses.
4. Act Like You’re Not Working Out at Home
Committing to a virtual workout class in a busy household can be a real challenge.
As much as we love our fur babies, they can also be a distraction. If you have a pet, having a designated place for them will help you stay focused during your at-home session. If possible, let them play with a favorite toy or treat in another room with the door closed or let them outside if you have a fenced yard.
Depending on the age of your children, it might take a little planning and creativity to find the right time to exercise. If you have young children, it can be tricky to find time for yourself without interruption. It may be while they are taking a nap or playing quietly after a meal.
If your children are older— or your spouse or significant other is home — communicate your commitment to your goals so you can carve out 30-minutes of uninterrupted class time. It not only sets up some accountability for you, but it also models an excellent example of what self-care and a wellness routine look like in action.
5. Keep Equipment Handy
Similar to setting up your home for movement, being prepared before class will help you get the most out of your virtual workout. Many online workout classes don’t require equipment beyond a basic yoga mat and a bottle of water. And most will list out any equipment you’ll need once you click on the page.
Having the necessary class props at your fingertips is essential for eliminating that extra barrier to following through with the good intention to make your health a priority. The additional step of digging out your yoga mat from a faraway closet or trying to find your hidden hand weights may be enough to prevent you from staying the course.
6. Start Slow if You’re New to the Exercises
If you’re just getting started with virtual workouts or it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, resist the temptation to jump in full steam ahead. Taking a little time for body conditioning on a regular basis before the hard work begins can set you up for a safer, injury-free exercise routine.
You can begin with restorative on-demand yoga classes as you build up to more advanced classes. Pilates is another excellent virtual workout for beginners since Pilates is a low impact — and low risk of injury — exercise focused on core strengthening and balanced muscle development for the entire body.
As you progress through the movements, you can start adding in other helpful equipment. Cork Yoga Blocks are among my favorites.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New
Variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to online workouts there are many styles to choose from.
Trying different exercises works your muscles in a new way, increasing overall fitness. Plus, when you switch up your routine, your brain benefits too. When you start a new workout, the improvements you see in the first four to six weeks are actually mainly neurological, according to Shape Magazine.
In the spirit of diversifying movement, I recently introduced new on-demand Yogalates classes to my library.
Yogalates is believed to be particularly effective for improving muscle tone, developing a slimmer, stronger physique, and even weight loss.
Interested in trying it for yourself? Try a free online Yogalates class — or two — with a 7-day free membership trial here.
8. Don’t Aim for Perfection
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, be nice to yourself.
Being perfect isn’t the goal. Any time spent moving while trying to tune in to where your body is in space, its alignment, and how you feel doing different types of movement is time very well spent. It promotes a feeling of general well-being in addition to all of the more commonly known benefits of exercise.
I hope this inspires you to take a fresh look at the way you approach virtual workout classes.
You can try out my classes in our on-demand library — by signing up for the 7-day free membership trial here.