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Virtually Fit



— July 15, 2017

Virtually Fit

  • Getting buff with updated tech and old fashioned sweat.

Getting in the recommended

30 minutes of daily activity can seem impossible when you’re always running. Dealing with a crowded gym after a tough workday or trying to find parking at a popular yoga studio is enough to make you want to give up and grab a piece of couch. You can use a DVD to motivate yourself, but it’s not the same as being surrounded by energetic exercise enthusiasts and a knowledgeable instructor to kick you into a different gear. Good news: You now have another option. Live streaming classes, online recorded workouts and customized workout apps provide the best of both worlds by allowing you to work out at home, in your own time, while maintaining the integrity and benefits of a live workout. Some programs even allow you to capture the excitement of being among fellow fitness devotees. In each plan, you call the shots: when, where and what. “The number one reason people provide for not engaging in exercise is a lack of time,” says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Auburn University in Alabama. “With app workouts, you’re in charge of time. If you can’t make it to a 5:30 cardio class, you can do ‘real’ cardio outdoors with an app like Run, Zombies! You also have the option of working out near your own home when a spare period of time presents itself to you.” For people who like group fitness, certain apps such as the Daily Burn or Peloton are a great way to exercise with top instructors either from a prerecorded workout or a live class in progress, says Pete McCall, exercise physiologist and senior advisor for the American Council on Exercise. You’ll still need to find your own inner motivation, however. “You could spend money on an app or product and then not use it, which is no different than paying for a gym membership and not going,” McCall notes. Choose wisely to be sure you’re fit enough to handle the intensity of the program before you start. Especially proceed with caution if you’re new to exercise, advises Tyler Spraul, CSCS, head trainer at “Depending on the trainer/instructor, you might not get a lot of personalization or customization for your workouts. It can also be challenging to carry out any kind of initial testing or assessment when getting started with online training,” he says. In addition, keep in mind you won’t have the same, immediately actionable feedback during online training. Plus, Spraul warns, “You’re on your own if you were to get injured during an online training or live stream session.” Check out the following programs, which cover a variety of techniques and fitness levels, to find one you think may work for you. All contain an element of fun to keep you motivated.


The popularity of indoor cycling classes often make it difficult to find one with space available at a time when you’re able to attend. With the Peloton program you ride against others right from your home, selecting rides and virtual training compatriots, making the experience individualized yet motivational, says Olson. With ten-plus live daily classes led by world-class cycling instructors, all you need is a bike, an Apple mobile device (they don’t yet support Androids), and a bit of motivation to follow the leader, says Wayne Caparas, author of BioLogic Revelation (Westbow). “The Peloton app also delivers a large library of on-demand classes you can stream any time you’d like,” he notes. Most of the rides focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that may not be suitable for newbies. Although it can be used for outdoor riding, it’s safest and most effective with a bike made for spin training, says Caparas. $12.99 per month/

Motion Traxx

The Motion Traxx app enables you to choose from activities that include cycling, elliptical training, treadmill, and circuit training. Top instructors deliver tips directly into your headset as they guide you through workouts of 20, 40 or 60 minutes, enabling you to pick one that fits your available time. Focusing on HIIT programs, each modality includes a number of different interval patterns and levels of difficulty. You receive specific prompts and tough-love motivation to guide you through various terrains and levels of difficulty; scrolling through each plan enables you to check out the terrain and difficulty level before you make a selection. At the end, you can also opt to share your progress online and through social networks to inspire your friends to do the same. $4.99 and up (free on iTunes)/motion

Zombies, Run!

This popular iTunes app combines the “fear” of running from a scary monster with a cardio workout for a motivating run. Co-created with novelist Naomi Alderman, every run becomes a mission where you are the hero in the center of your own zombie adventure story. For example, one story revolves around you helping save the lives of hundreds of survivors by gathering life-saving supplies and dodging the horde of undead. Audio drama mixed with motivating songs from your own playlist makes time fly. “Zombies, Run! is very entertaining and mind-engaging,” says Olson. “And it beats a regimented style of cardio-based on time or distance or pace. So you’ll get a higher-quality cardio workout and have a bit of fun doing it!” $2.99 and up/ zombies-run/id503519713?mt=8


Barre3 mixes yoga, Pilates, cardio and weight training in its live-streaming classes. If there is no Barre studio near you, you can still get the unique glute and core training provided by Barre3, says Olson, who adds, “But, if you are not the best at being a self-starter and forget to activate your app or log into one of these solid workout formats, you may need to keep your gym membership.” Barre3 features isometric holds, small-range movements and larger dynamic exercises to help balance the body, improve posture and create the functional strength that enables you to tackle daily activities. As with all streaming workouts you do at home, if you tend to be extroverted, this may seem less motivational or strenuous since you can “hide” without going to the back row of the class, notes Olson. $29 a month/

The Daily Burn

The Daily Burn is far more a workout video delivery platform than a true mobile app, says Caparas, who adds, “They boast a large and ever-growing library of diverse workout programs featuring a team of highly credentialed fitness professionals specializing in a wide variety of disciplines.” The list of over 700 workouts can be filtered by time, equipment, trainer and difficulty. The Daily Burn also offers a variety of online tools, personal instructions and nutrition plans that stream to your computer, smartphone or any other Internet-enabled device. If you need the excitement of a live environment, however, the Burn may not be enough to keep you engaged, says Caparas, who notes, “True enthusiasts and well-motivated beginners on-the-go will most likely find what they’re looking for in the Daily Burn library.” If you’re a newbie or unfamiliar with high-intensity workouts, use caution and look for a level of program you can handle. free 30-day trial, then $14.99 a month/

Getting the Most from Your App
Like old-school VHS tapes and DVDs, these live streaming programs and apps are quickly becoming a popular way to exercise at home according to McCall, who says his wife enjoys The Daily Burn and uses it on days when she’s too busy to get to a regular class. “The benefits are an effective and fun workout on your own time and flexible to your schedule. Instructor-led workouts help you get results. Playing games like Zombies, Run! is a great way to exercise without feeling like exercise because it can be a lot of fun.”
To get the most out of your programs:
Look for an accountability feature:
If you want to get into online training or live streaming workouts, choose a program that includes some accountability, whether it’s logging your workouts for the trainer to review, group participation in the live stream or even just partnering up with a friend says Spraul. “Accountability is vital to help you stay on track.”
Be ready to work: Make sure you have all the equipment you need and that it’s unpacked and ready to go ahead of time. You want to avoid running around looking for fitness tubing and trying to inflate a fitness ball in the middle of a class. Lastly, choose a program that you enjoy doing, especially since you’ll probably be on your own for the most part. Spraul says, “You’re more likely to stick with it if you look forward to the workout.”

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