With gyms shut and options of fitness narrowed to largely home workouts, enthusiasts have been taking online classes with gusto. But as millions place their faith in virtual guides, the question to ask is whether they’re effective. A new study claims that the vast majority of them aren’t.
Why don’t they work?
According to researchers from Oregon State University, the US, most online guides only focus on superficial exercises centred on the abs or glutes.
They promise unrealistic results, fall short of guidelines set out by national health organisations, and are tailored towards people already in good physical shape.
“So if you are a beginner or someone re-entering a fitness module after a long stretch of inactivity, following a workout blindly could lead to serious injury,” says Dr Ajay Kulkarni, a Mumbai-based private general practitioner.
What you need to know
The absence of personal interface lets details of proper execution, slip through the cracks. “People feel confident in undertaking seemingly simple exercises, not realising that even those can lead to muscle tears and tissue ruptures,” says Palak Sachdeva, a Pune-based pilates instructor.
Additionally, many programmes available online aren’t accredited so there is no way of ensuring that they’ll help.
There is also compromised attention on technique in online training. “How is your progress to be evaluated in an online class? And without feedback, how are you to progress?” says Sachdeva.
The preconceived notion that virtual fitness is easy has become the biggest myth. On the contrary, those suited for your purpose could be very demanding.
Additionally, the misnomer about online classes being cost-effective has done the rounds for far too long.
“It’s time to cut through the clutter,” says Sachdeva.
“In reality, some of the paid applications charge a considerably higher fee than even in-person training. That’s because they offer features that could be individually suited for you,” she says.
What can help
It’s easy to get blinded by big names so spend the time looking for credentials. Talk to people who’ve used their services previously, read testimonials, and scan their website for allied information.
“An easy way of assessing a product is by looking at its competitors and seeing what they're offering. Also, if possible, get a demo class before signing up full-time,” says Tejas Saha, a Delhi- based gym instructor.
Don't shy away from vetting the trainer associated with the online programme you choose. Get on a call with them and understand their approach and whether they’re willing to be flexible.
In the end, nothing will help until you make a fitness routine and stick to it, according to Shivjeet Ghatge, CEO of StepSetGo, a fitness app.
“People lose interest and inclination because working out requires a long-term commitment. One needs to stay focused and keep going ahead,” he says.
Apps can help
Such has been their appeal in the last few months that App Annie reported a 30 percent increase in the number of downloads of fitness apps in the country in the week of March 22-28, as compared to weekly average downloads recorded in January and February. But the rule of thumb here is to not be taken in by the lure of free offerings.
“That’s the first step towards taking the right decision for your health,” says Rishikesh Kumar, Founder and CEO at fitness company Xtraliving. “Free workouts may not be for you at all and if you undertake the wrong kind just because it’s free, you’ll do more harm than good,” he says.
Check before you click
❖ Don’t get blinded by big names. Search for credentials
❖ Talk to people who’ve used the app before
❖ Read testimonials online
❖ Scan the website for allied information
❖ Look at what competitors are offering
❖ Get a demo class before signing up full-time
The Best smart trainers
Creates a personalised programme for diet and exercise based on your goals.
Offers on-demand workouts, fitness recommendations and a healthy dose of body positivity.
Motivates you to keep going by donating money to organisations for every mile
you log in.
Map My Fitness
Perfect for beginners, it lets you record nearly any activity that you might do, from walking the dog to sweeping the floor.
Guided workouts to music that match your tempo and then slowly take it up a notch.
This one has a little bit for everyone, from stretching routines to stair workouts.
A workout app for strength training, it has tools to log how many reps you do.
The Johnson and Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout
Exercise at an intensity that is right foryou. You just need a chair and seven minutes.
A high-intensity interval workout-on-demand app that works based on your level of ability or equipment available.
Nike Training Club
Has routines worth 30, 45, and 60 minutes. Shows a trainer doing the moves.