How to get more from your virtual and digital fitness classes

All about virtual and digital fitness classes and how you can get more results from them.

Are you a digital fitness class fan? I am!

When I wrote this post about how to teach and take virtual fitness classes in May of 2020, I figured it would be popular for a few months, then we’d all forget about virtual and digital workouts as gyms reopened. Boy, was I wrong. Virtual fitness and digital fitness are here to stay in a big way.

I fought the transition to virtual and digital more than anyone, loving my in-person classes. But I can now say I’ve been happily teaching and taking live and on-demand workouts for a solid 10 months strong. 

Now, I know that gyms have reopened in many locations and some people are safely working out with others in classes in masks. And that’s amazing. But I also know that many people have decided that the convenience of working out at home is something that they want to stay with, long after the pandemic is safely behind us. And that could mean you are doing virtual or digital fitness classes, rather than your own thing. I’m a big proponent of digital classes, so I recommend giving them a shot, if you haven’t yet. I think I’ll have a combination of home and gym workouts in the future. But for now, for me, it’s all at home, and it’s all digital.

And by the way, this post isn’t about the best digital platform to choose. Instead, it’s about tips you can apply to all platforms.

How to get more from your virtual and digital fitness classes

How to get more from your virtual and digital fitness classes by A Lady Goes West

Props to you for choosing to work out at home. And while this is a convenient option, it also often means that more of the responsibility is on you. You need to properly set up your space, monitor your own form, plan and schedule your own workouts and bear more of the burden of doing everything safely and consistently.

Below, I’ve put together some general ideas to help you get better results from your digital workouts. However, if you’re new to working out at home (or new to digital fitness), I have a few other posts that may be good places to start:

Now on to the tips …

Use a big viewing device to stream your workout, preferably a TV. (And make sure you set it up at eye level, so you never need to strain your neck or eyes to see it.)

I’ve mentioned this tip many times, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s so much better to do your virtual and digital fitness classes off the biggest screen possible. Unless I’m riding the Peloton, I put all of my virtual workouts on a TV in order to see the workout fully.

If you can’t see the digital instructor’s full body clearly, you’ll have a harder time getting the form and technique right. Not to mention, you’ll have to squint your eyes, contort your body or move your device to get through the workout. And that’s not going to help you get better results.

When it comes to screens for fitness, bigger is always better. Many online fitness platforms are available on smart TVs through Apple TV or Roku, and I always suggest taking advantage of those options.

Digital fitness tips by A Lady Goes West March 2021

Follow a program with specific workouts laid out progressively each week. (Do not do the same workout every single day.)

You may not know this, but a lot of digital fitness platforms, such as Les Mills On Demand and Peloton have progressive workout programs that lay out which specific workouts you should do on certain days in order to get stronger and more fit, according to your goal. You can find these in the search bars under programs or plans. They are super valuable and commonly overlooked. Don’t overlook them.

I always suggest that people find these programs and choose one to get started with. It could be that the online platform you are using doesn’t offer any programs. If that’s the case, you should write out a weekly calendar, to ensure that you are getting a good mixture of strength, cardio and flexibility. You wouldn’t want to do a full-body circuit workout every day of the week, if there isn’t any variety in focus. That would set you up for a plateau or injury. And of course, you should always include a rest day or two to recover.

To create your schedule (as a general rule of thumb), start with how many days a week you can work out, then split the workouts up evenly among strength, cardio and flexibility. Of course, depending on your goals, you would need to add more or less of each focus. This post is a good place to begin to help you schedule your workouts.

Tips for virtual fitness classes by A Lady Goes West March 2021

Get the proper equipment, and use it. You don’t need much, but it needs to be right. (Weights are back in stock, so grab ’em.)

Okay, so we are about a year into working out at home more, due to the whole pandemic. Even though it was super-hard to get your hands on workout equipment last summer, things are finally back in stock. If you’ve been doing nothing but bodyweight workouts or using water-bottles as your light hand-weights for months, now’s the time to upgrade. You won’t get any stronger doing the same thing every day, you have to progress.

I ordered some 20-pound dumbbells off Amazon last week, and they came in four days. I had been trying to use my Les Mills Smartbar plates for regular circuit workouts as dumbbells, and they weren’t cutting it (even though the barbell itself is awesome). I was talking to Dave about how it had been a year of working out at home, and how it would be so nice to have dumbbells. And he was like: “Why don’t you just see if they are available now and order some?” Oh, good idea. I was trying to make it work, when really, working out is so important to me, I know I should have everything I need to get all my workouts done.

Therefore, if the resistance band you’ve been using isn’t strong enough to challenge you, get a new one. If your workout mat is stinky, so you don’t like to pull it out, recycle that thing and add a new one to your cart. This may sound simple, but gear is important. You don’t need a ton of stuff, you just need the right stuff.

Tips for digital and virtual fitness classes by A Lady Goes West March 2021

Remove all distractions during your workout, just like you’re in a class at a studio or gym. (That means NO phone.)

Have you ever checked your phone during a studio workout? Nope. I bet you haven’t, because it’s rude, it’s not allowed, and it totally messes up your flow. That’s why you need to make sure you aren’t doing that during your home digital workouts either. This could potentially derail your momentum and affect your mindset.

Do not bring your cell phone onto your Peloton bike or treadmill just to stay connected. Do not check your email during a break between weight-lifting sets in BODYPUMP on Les Mills On Demand. (Side note: If you want to try Les Mills On Demand for free for 30 days, check out my special referral link here.) 

Unless you are awaiting an important call from a family member about an issue that can’t be missed, I’m guessing everything else can wait. And it should wait. The whole point of having 20 to 30 to 45 minutes dedicated to your workout, is for your body AND mind. So remove the distractions. I’d leave your phone elsewhere and put your Apple watch on theater mode, as well.

Invite a friend to join work out with you virtually and join in on your program. (Fitness is better with others, and you can find ways to connect even if you never physically see the other person.)

This may sound crazy, but knowing you have someone doing a workout with you at the same time, whether you can see them or not, is entirely motivating. You will work harder, you will have more fun, and you will be more consistent. It’s a fact of life.

I like to do live rides with friends on the Peloton bike. I love to invite people to my virtual classes on Motus. And I like to join in on Zoom workouts with others. It’s just fun to know that you are all going through the same thing at the same time. There are many ways to do this. You can both put on FaceTime on your phones, and hit play on your workouts at the same time. Or you can do a workout over Zoom. Or you can share your screens in Google chat. You could even meet up and do a digital workout outside at someone’s house.

Another great way to do digital fitness with a friend is to both start one of the planned programs at the same time, so you are pacing with each other through the days and weeks and can share stories. Remember that like anything else in life — if you share your goals and plans with someone else, you’re more likely to stick to them.

Digital fitness by A Lady Goes West March 2021

(I’m wearing my favorite Takara Shine leggings from Carbon38 in these pictures. And my code ASHLEYPITT gets you 15 percent off your first two orders of more than $100 on the Carbon38 site.)

Some other digital fitness class tips …

I would recommend doing your own warm-ups before a digital fitness class to focus on what your body needs. You should also always stay through to the end of the cool-down and stretch. And you should modify anything that doesn’t feel right to you. You could also consider meeting with an online personal trainer a few times to help jump-start your fitness and set you up for success in a digital fitness class environment moving forward.

And that’ll do it for now. Thanks so much for visiting A Lady Goes West today and reading my tips on how to get more from your digital fitness classes.

Remember to be safe with your workouts, monitor your form, work on progressing smartly, and never be afraid to try new things too. Take care! 🙂 

Other posts you may like …

Questions of the day 

Do you ever do digital or virtual fitness classes? If so, which ones?

What’s your favorite way to work out?

Have you ever taken one of my virtual or on-demand workouts on Motus or Fit Revolution?

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