Opinion

The Zoom workout: Online fitness works better for seasoned exercisers

The Zoom workout: Online fitness works better for seasoned exercisers
Online training is a lot cheaper than a gym membership as well. Unfortunately, people tend to overestimate their commitment to fitness.

When we turn on the TV these days, it opens to the booming voice of Hrithik Roshan encouraging viewers to stay fit at home during the coronavirus outbreak. Tata Sky launched a fitness channel free of charge for the first month, with features on nutrition and workouts by health professionals like Luke Coutinho and Yasmin Karachiwala. Similarly, Hotstar has a slew of new fitness shows. There’s Belly Burn, 12 hours of power-packed workouts specifically targeting the midsection. On Stronger with Zoe, a well-known strength trainer in Delhi gives tips on weights. Dance Fit with Gurmeet Chaudhary attempts to take the boredom out of the exercise with steps to re-mixed techno music.

By now, even the most optimistic amongst us have reached the conclusion that even if Covid-19 was to vanish overnight, going to the gym is not an option till things settle down. It’s one of the most disorienting aspects of coronavirus, that the little things we took for granted in our daily routines may be potential risk zones for infection. Life, however, must carry on and it’s no wonder then, that online training is the fastest-growing segment of the fitness industry. A quick poll among friends tells me that in the last three months almost everyone has downloaded a fitness or health app. (Whether that has translated into enthusiastic workouts is an entirely different matter.)

I consider myself more determined than most but I discovered long ago, I need to pay (a lot) to stay committed to a workout program. After all, I’d be riddled with guilt if I kept skipping the gym having signed up for 30 personal training sessions (non-refundable).  This may sound like a warped attitude to exercise but it’s an effective way to stay on the wagon. It works because most of humanity firmly believes the only thing worse than gaining weight, is losing money. This explains the popularity of apps like GymPact. You join a group and pitch some money committing to a certain number of workouts. If you reach the predefined goal, GymPact will pay you back.

No doubt it’s wonderful that one has access to fitness resources wherever one happens to be in the midst of a global pandemic, without requiring a commute to a gym or studio. Online training is a lot cheaper than a gym membership as well. Unfortunately, people tend to overestimate their commitment to fitness, whether they have spent obscenely or not. Which ends up being the biggest shortfall in online training. There’s no one actually watching you when you’re slacking off. The truth is the thought of doing bicep curls at home may loom large in our imaginations: but seeing it through without accountability requires a superhuman effort even from the most dedicated exercise freak. For most people—that’s 90% of the struggle, not procrastinating and finding excuses to dodge the workout.

In the initial days of the lockdown, I logged onto www.fitnessblender.com which has every kind of workout for every goal and every body type. I lasted 15 minutes before turning it off and I haven’t bothered trying again. These are exceptionally trying times and one has to accept one’s limitations. Besides, it’s perfectly understandable if one doesn’t have the mind space to try something new. A big issue I find with all the exercise plans online, even the easy ones, is they include a gruelling set of squats and push-ups which I have avoided in the best of times.  Rather than struggling with an ambitious set of jumps and kicks guaranteed to turn one-off after three classes, there’s enough to be gained from the slower rewards of consistency, something doable like a brisk walk or a slow run.

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