“When choosing an online fitness class, you should consider key factors that can make a difference in the results you get, how long you stick with a program, and, ultimately, your satisfaction,” says Jaynie Bjornaraa, PhD., MPH, PT, and AVP of Digital Fitness Solutions with the Silver&Fit® program. “The quality of the instructor, for example, can make a huge difference in keeping you motivated and ensuring that you’re doing proper moves that won’t result in injuries.”
Dr. Bjornaraa shared five tips to consider when choosing an online workout class.
1. Find a class tailored to your goals, fitness level, and/or health status. There’s nothing more discouraging than trying to follow a fitness instructor who’s doing movements at a speed you can’t keep up with, or teaching moves that feel too intense. If you’re just starting out, find beginner classes offering a lower level of intensity. As your fitness improves, add in intermediate level classes. If your fitness level is high, look for advanced classes in cardio, yoga, strength training or other exercises. Older adults should seek instructors who specialize in the specific needs of your age group, such as maintaining and building muscle, maintaining flexibility, and improving balance.
2. Make sure the instructor is qualified. There are thousands of instructors teaching classes on social media or fitness websites, but the wrong instructor can result in injury or a bad experience. Look for instructors who’ve earned credentials and have experience in the types of workouts you enjoy. For example, top instructors may have certifications such as Certified Group Fitness Instructor, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults, or others. Such certifications are earned through organizations such as the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), or National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). To get an idea of the backgrounds you should look for, visit the Silver&Fit program’s roster of elite instructors. The program specializes in classes tailored to older adults.
3. Choose a program with a wide variety of classes. Movement is medicine, as the saying goes and the more types of movement, the better. Variety can enhance your overall fitness. For example, instead of doing the same cardio class each day, mix in a strength training class to build muscle, tai chi for balance, or yoga for flexibility. Choose other classes that help improve your agility, endurance, and your sense of empowerment and calm.
4. Find a class that motivates you. Data shows that 50 percent of sedentary people who start a new exercise program drop out after six months. An instructor who inspires and motivates you is key to your success. Top motivating factors to look for include enthusiasm and encouragement, a “real” personality, challenging exercises, music you like, and a sense of community. If your online community allows for commenting, share your fitness goals with the group to get additional encouragement or to spark an online conversation. Get engaged with others to stay inspired.
5. Find online classes that are convenient to your schedule and fit your budget. Are you more likely to stick with an 8 AM class, a noon class, or an-end-of-day class? Finding a class time that suits your routine increases your chances of sticking with a new program. Explore options such as those offered through the Silver&Fit program, which premieres 54 free, public Facebook Live and YouTube senior exercise classes a week. These half-hour classes include cardio, strength/bodyweight, yoga, dance, tai chi, mixed formats, and flexibility and balance at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Other workouts feature an international location and ‘favorite classes.’ The classes premiere Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. For added convenience, classes can be replayed at any time on Facebook or YouTube for two weeks after the premiere date.
“The Silver&Fit free public exercise classes were designed especially for the many people who have lost access to their gyms, but still crave structured classes and social interactions,” says Dr. Bjornaraa. “Since launching the classes, Silver&Fit‘s senior workouts have been viewed more than 1.7 million times, and the program has gained over 30,000 social media followers.”