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If you’re like me, 2020 has made your typical fitness routine toast. From virtual to outdoor classes in a record heatwave, it seems like I never know what challenges this year will throw at me. And just when I thought I had a good routine figured out, I developed jumper’s knee from the impact of outdoor workouts.
I’ve had adventures with this particular brand of tendinitis before and know that healing requires a reduction of high-impact activity. Because I do HIIT workouts regularly, this meant exploring a new world of fitness that would challenge me while I need to balance sweat with recovery and I decided to give online Pilates a try.
At about the same time, I saw a social media post from Jess Hughes, the owner of Citizen Pilates in Houston, Texas, announcing her new on-demand virtual membership. Even though I’ve interviewed Jess multiple times over the years, visited one of their studios, AND own some of their swag, I had yet to take a class from Citizen.
Then, when I browsed Citizen’s library to determine the best workout videos for my adventure into online Pilates, I was stoked to see that there was a video focused on abs and hip mobility—essentially, it was my perfect fit.
After taking the class (which I loved, btw!), here are my top three tips for you to start your at-home, virtual Pilates practice based on my experience in class.
To find the perfect workout, you need to first identify what you like and what type of challenge you’re looking for. There are a lot of different types of Pilates workouts out there. For example, if you are looking for a challenging session that won’t require a shower after, you may be more interested in a class that mimics the feel of a reformer with the use of a resistance band. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a full-body workout that will leave you dripping in sweat, there are fusion and HIIT hybrid classes out there. Whatever your goal is, there’s a Pilates style out there for you.
You also need to know if you prefer live-streamed or on-demand classes. With so many choices, you need to know your preferred workout style and your goals to pick the right one. For me, I have a virtual workout time limit of 30 minutes. Any longer than that and I stop giving my full effort and start thinking about my next meal. I’m also an introvert, and live workouts take a lot out of me because, to me, it feels like the instructor is in my home. I can do live stream workouts sometimes, but taking them every day would be emotionally exhausting. Because I knew my workout needs, I knew that I needed to find a high-quality, 30-minute on-demand class.
The other reason why I love on-demand workouts is that if the class isn't enjoyable, I can always turn it off, and no one else knows. That said, let me go ahead and give you the spoiler: I did not turn off Citizen Pilates. In fact, I was surprised when it was over after 30 minutes because the class went so well, I lost track of time. That’s not to say it was easy—my Apple Watch, my heart rate got into the low hundreds and I burned some serious calories in a short time.
I’ve learned that planning is the key to success with virtual workouts. Since I’m an early morning workout person, I set up my living room and mat before I went to bed to make sure that I was ready to roll when I woke up. Be sure to place your mat in a place that allows you to see your phone, computer, or whatever device you’re using to watch the video easily. Pilates is all about proper posture and alignment—so make sure your setup doesn’t require you to move your head and neck awkwardly! You’ll also want to make sure that the space around your mat is clear of anything you might kick or whack with a part of your body. Trust me—it hurts when you unexpectedly hit something hard with your pinkie toe!
While working from home has been a boon for the sweatpants market, leave the loose-fitting clothes for after your sweat sesh. Stick to close-fitting workout gear for your Pilates class—I recommend a tank top and capris or longer pants. Sleeves can get in the way of some types of arm work, and you’ll want to protect your knees from mat chafe. Again—trust me, it doesn’t feel great. If you’re doing a live stream class, try to wear solid colors so that the instructor can clearly see the lines of your body to coach you better. And, depending on your mat, you might want to consider socks with grips to help prevent you from sliding around.
While my workout didn't have a lot of sweeping motions, there was a movement where we combined a leg raise with a push-up. There was enough of a challenge just doing the movement, that dealing with obstacles at the same time was more difficult than necessary.
About halfway through the class, the instructor called out “Momentum isn’t a muscle.” She said it to remind students that they needed to have control over their movements, and let their muscles, not gravity, do the work. While it’s true of any Pilates class, it especially applies to virtual classes. When you take a Pilates class in person, your instructor will help guide your tempo, either with counting, music, or breathing exercises. That in-person pacing goes out the window when you’re working out from home, but it’s still critical to getting results. When you take a virtual Pilates class, make sure you’re taking the same pace as the instructor—and don’t speed up slow movements, unless they tell you it is okay!
Here’s an example from the class I took from Citizen Pilates class. Late in the class, there was a tough movement where you had the choice of raising your body off the mat in a modified side plank or staying on the mat. The stimulus of the movement was the thigh, not the core, and if you ignored the instructors' pace cues, you would have gotten a very different workout—and burned out your arms holding up your body. I stayed on the mat, doing my best mermaid impression, and wound up thighs that reminded me of my workout for the next two days. Basically, it was a success.
It really is the perfect time to try Pilates—with so many options of classes to take, you’re sure to find the ideal match for your goals. When you’re ready, search the Mindbody app to find a virtual class, whether it’s at a studio near you, or half the world away.
That’s something I never expected to hear. Think about it: we join gyms and studios because of their equipment, instructors, space, community (and AC, of course). But who’s to say we can’t get all that—or at least most of it—with virtual and online classes, too? In this new wave of wellness, we’re all switching up our fitness routines as we switch up our everyday schedules and habits. It’s not just in-studio or at-home anymore. It’s in-studio, at-home, at the park, beach, parking lot, rooftop...virtual, hybrid, Instagram Live, online, on-demand, and so much more. As we’re adapting, adjusting, finding our groove, etc., online gym memberships enter the fray. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
There are tons of benefits to an online gym membership, especially right now.
Let’s break this down:
1. Scheduling convenience
A virtual/online gym fitness membership is a monthly subscription that gives you access to tons of live stream fitness classes you can take anywhere, from studios across the globe. These fitness studios offer tons of at-home workouts, group exercise, and one-on-one training sessions to choose from, no matter your exercise program or fitness level. With so many options, it’s easy to find one that fits your schedule. Whether you want to fit in a morning flow before work, combat that afternoon slump with some cardio, squeeze in some strength training before dinner, or wind down with an evening barre class, you can pick and choose classes to fit your fitness routine.
2. Minimizing exposure to COVID-19
And because they’re online, you can take these classes from the comfort of your home (or wherever you are), thus minimizing your exposure to COVID-19 and eliminating your commute to the gym or studio. By now, many of us have our designated “workout spot,” whether it’s an actual weight room, a quick scooch of the coffee table, or a grassy area in the backyard. Maybe you’re comfortable here... maybe you’ve even learned to love it.
With an online gym membership, you can stay in your safe space/comfy workout spot. Or, you can go somewhere new (local park, beach spot, a different area of the house, you know). You can access these virtual, live stream fitness classes from any device, so you can prop up your phone, laptop, or tablet wherever you want to go, or roll out your mat in front of the big screen TV in your living room.
We all have our favorite, go-to workouts. But sometimes, it feels good to switch it up (especially right now). Working from home all day, many of us are craving some variety and excitement, and an online gym membership can definitely help with that. According to our recent poll about COVID’s effect on our fitness routines, 64% of you have tried new online workouts since the start of the pandemic—I know I have. Maybe it’s because trying new things is easier in the comfort of our homes, maybe we’re finally able to try some classes we normally can’t find locally, or maybe we’re all just bored out of our minds...I don’t know. But I’m excited about it.
With an online gym membership, you can get that spice you’re looking for easily. Start out your Monday by hitting some HIIT, ease your sore muscles with some Restorative Yoga, and end the week with some dance cardio to pretend you’re at the club. The world is yours.
4. Working out without a commute
My favorite part? No commute. There are literally no more excuses when it comes to skipping workouts. No traffic, no schedule conflicts, no fear of returning to the studio. You don’t even have to worry about packing a gym bag with a change of clothes and shower supplies or prepping a snack or protein shake to bring to work. Just shut your computer, throw on some leggings, and get to work.
Community—the element of online fitness memberships we don’t often think of. When we go into studios, we understand the beauty of a fitness community. We’re greeted by our instructors, we chat with others in the class, and we all sweat together and encourage each other throughout. But working out at home is different... or is it?
We can do workouts on our own at home all we want, but we’re definitely going to miss out on the community aspect we all know and love. But, with live stream classes, we can create a different kind of community. The beauty of it? It’s not just your neighbors anymore. Anyone with an online fitness membership can join these classes, regardless of where they’re located in relation to the studio, so you can be working out alongside people from all over the world—now that’s something I can get behind.