VR Fitness Is a Serious Workout, Seriously

In the last days of 2020, Oculus quietly rolled out a fitness tracker, called Oculus Move, that lives inside its Quest headsets. Users who download the software can watch the calories they burn in virtual reality, along with their physically active minutes, climb on a ticker floating above or below their field of view. With a deeper dive into the tracker’s dashboard, they can also set goals and track their progress over time.

Move appears to be an acknowledgment from Oculus that fitness is a primary reason for many people to use VR. That’s certainly the case for me. I’m not much of a gamer in general, but for the past couple months, I’ve exercised nearly every day in virtual reality. And despite what you might think about the incompatibility of video games and exercise, these are serious workouts. Some end with me gasping for breath and wringing sweat from my beard.

In that sense, VR has saved me from bodily neglect. It’s helped me grasp the motivation that’s been threatening to slip through my fingers since the start of this godforsaken pandemic.

During the spring, summer, and fall seasons of COVID, I managed a couple 20-mile bike rides each week. On weekends I occasionally found strength for longer rides, and on one hot Saturday, I logged 100 flat miles on Long Island. But it was always a struggle to get moving, and as winter arrived in New York, my rides petered. After a couple inactive weeks, I decided to see what I could accomplish inside a Quest 2 ($299), the entry-level headset Oculus released in October.

Initially my plan was to use VR for a few minutes of movement on particularly cold days. But then I started building a library of games and programs, some of which I considered warm-ups that helped vault me into more serious cardio. Now, every day, I piece together a workout based on my mood and energy level. Video games are part of my daily routine, and I feel lazy without them.

What does a VR workout look like?

There are dozens of virtual reality programs you can use to burn a few calories, but as of now, there are only a few specifically focused on exercise. By far my favorite is the subscription-based program Supernatural ($19/month, or slightly less for annual memberships).

Workouts typically run 10- to 30-minutes, and they roll out fresh daily. After a quick stretch with a trainer, music kicks on and triangles and targets begin flying toward you. Your job is to squat through the former and smash the latter with the virtual batons in your hands.

It’s simple enough, but the game moves fast, especially with workouts labeled “hard.” You’ll struggle to hold a squat inside a triangle tunnel that forces you to stay low while swinging your arms. Then you’ll explode upward to swat an overhead target, side-lunge left then right to thread the off-kilter scalene triangles, and then attack a dozen more targets before dropping back down into a squat.

The movements burn, but they don’t immediately register as exercise. Not in the strictest sense, anyway, because Supernatural feels more like a sport than a workout. You run your score up by hitting targets, and with more powerful swings, you amass more points. You can track your progress on a leaderboard, and if you want to jump the person ahead of you, you’ll either have to work harder or longer.

To help break the monotony of exercise, each workout takes you around the world. You might start out on an arctic tundra, move to the edge of an Egyptian pyramid, and then end on the lip of a volcano in Ethiopia.

Supernatural VR fitness game summary screen

And each location pairs with a new song, which dictates the intensity of the workout. Supernatural invests heavily in licensing fees, and its programmers have delightfully diverse tastes. I’ve worked out to hip-hop, Southern rock, top 40. Some particularly motivating tracks have come from the New York Dolls, Violent Femmes, Kendrick Lamar, and one Skrillex track that threatened to detach my arms from my body.

The other program I use often is FitXR ($29.99), which fills my urge for head-to-head competition. With each workout, six other VR users join me. They appear as silhouettes to my left and right, and I do everything I can to make sure I score more points than they do.

FitXR workouts come with less novelty than Supernatural’s—there are only two environments, and the music isn’t anything I recognize. But it does offer workout variety, with either boxing or cardio dance classes. I prefer the former, which much like Supernatural, functions with moving targets set to the beat. Only this time, you’ll have to toggle between jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts, depending on the target.

BoxVR fitness boxing game

A streak counter tells you how many consecutive targets you’ve hit, and a power meter gives you a real-time score on each punch. Both metrics—accuracy and power—play into your position on the leaderboard.

The cumulative effect of scorekeeping and instant feedback available in both Supernatural and FitXR amount to what researchers call gamification. “You’re earning awards and leveling up,” says Tumay Tunur, Ph.D., a kinesiologist who studies virtual reality at California State University San Marcos. “It’s very rewarding, and it definitely helps with adherence.”

Consistency, says Tunur, is the most critical component of any workout routine. And that’s what makes gamification potent: It gives you goals that numb the pain, and it keeps you coming back for more.

Tunur’s VR fitness game of choice is the rhythm-based Beat Saber ($29). “When I play, I’ll say, ‘I’m gonna go in for 20 minutes to get a quick workout,’” she says. “Then 40 minutes later, I’m still playing.”

I can relate. When I’m feeling lethargic, I delay my serious workout by playing a first-person shooter like Pistol Whip ($24.99) or scaling cliffs in The Climb ($29.99). Both games get my blood pumping, and after a couple rounds, I’m eager to log in to Supernatural or FitXR.

According to Oculus Move, the built-in tracker, I’m burning 200-400 calories per workout, and in one 49-minute session, I clocked 549. I suspect the numbers are inflated, however. I’ve worn both Garmin and Fitbit trackers during my VR workouts, and they registered 24 percent and 35 percent lower, respectively.

But I don’t particularly care about calories. The more important metric for me is exertion, and the trackers told me I was keeping my average heart rate close to 130, with a peak near 170. Those are legitimate numbers, and they provide context for research on VR fitness.

Last year, kinesiologists at the University of Minnesota reviewed 15 studies on the subject. Among those that looked at physical outcomes such as body composition, fitness level, and muscular strength, two-thirds showed positive results from VR workouts. And that’s despite relatively short study periods and outdated technology. (The oldest study in the analysis is from 2003, which is ancient in tech years.)

But perhaps the more interesting finding comes from the studies that looked at VR’s psychological effects. According to the research, virtual workouts can reduce fatigue and symptoms of depression.

Again, I can relate. Virtual reality isn’t reality, but it does transport me somewhere outside my apartment. That’s valuable given that my local restaurants, bars, and gyms are all inaccessible due to the pandemic. VR is a small bright spot—a healthy one, at that—in what could otherwise feel like a yearlong, pandemic-induced Groundhog Day.

Virtual workouts and the future

If you’ve been paying attention to VR, then you’ve been hearing for a decade that Oculus was on the verge of making the technology mainstream. So what’s different about now? That’s easy: Accessibility.

Until recently, affordable consoles were just plastic or cardboard holsters that strapped a smartphone to your head. There wasn’t much you could do with them. And even today, high-end goggles require cables to keep you tethered to an expensive gaming computer.

The Oculus Quest, released in 2019, was the first to bridge the divide. It was wireless and had a $399 price tag. It wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t four-figures expensive, either. And 17 months later, Oculus released the Quest 2, an update that improved significantly on the visuals (frame rate and resolution are both higher), weight (it clocks in at just over one pound), and price ($299). It stands to reason that as the technology continues to improve, so will the fitness applications.

My one overarching complaint of the Quest 2 comes not from Oculus, but from its parent company, Facebook. With the second-generation console, the social-media company began requiring its virtual-reality users to log in using a Facebook profile.

That probably won’t phase the site’s billions of active users, but I deleted my account a couple years ago. Facebook found a way to force me back on, and the strong-arm mandate confirms my suspicion that it cares more about harvesting my data than winning me back as a loyal customer.

Regardless, VR fitness has officially landed, and I’d wager that goggles will soon be as common as treadmills.

Consider Holodia, a company that began making VR workout software in 2018. Originally, Holodia targeted gyms with virtual jungles and rivers that members could accelerate through using rowing machines, ellipticals, and exercise bikes. But in January, Holodia launched a subscription-based program for the Quest 2, presumably to jump on the at-home VR fitness trend.

Users can run the program, called Holofit ($10.75/month, less for longer memberships), using smart rowing machines or bikes and ellipticals with cadence sensors attached. But more tellingly, they can now also run it by doing crunches or jogging in place—no heavy equipment required.

That seems to provide a clue to where VR fitness is headed. While it began as a novelty, it’s now capable of serving as the centerpiece to your home gym. It costs less, takes up less space, and incentives you with game-like elements and daily updates.

Truth is, I don’t always feel like working out. But these days, I’m always down for a break from reality. It’s wonderful that VR can offer both.




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What Does 2021 Hold for Group Fitness?

It’s the beginning of a new year, which is often a time for industries to reflect on the past year’s events and confidently predict the future. Typically, as group fitness instructors, we eagerly await the newest list of trends, fads and expectations so we can be sure to stay relevant. Of course, there’s something a bit different about this year’s attitudes toward the future, largely because a global pandemic wasn’t exactly on most people’s radar. There is no question, however, that the fitness industry has changed and progressed at an extraordinary rate across the globe.

Companies inside and outside of the fitness industry are recognizing the business opportunities afforded by group fitness, which is why it’s worth considering how you might use the following predictions to help grow your influence and business in 2021 and beyond.

Instructors Will Be More Independent and Strategic

A sense of confidence bolstered by working independently for most of 2020 has provided instructors with the opportunity to get serious about why they chose this career. Instead of going with the flow when it comes to schedule, format and location, instructors are taking back the reins and setting their own priorities for opportunities and growth. Instructors will continue to define who they want to serve, what they hope to help them accomplish, and how they want to do it. Approaching work in a more strategic way will provide a better experience for both you and your participants.

Diversification Will Continue

New ways of leading classes have emerged in the last year. Providing a great group fitness experience can now happen inside or outside of a club, live (at the same time as participants) or on-demand (via recorded classes that can be accessed anytime). Finally, group fitness instructors are learning to be effective beyond trading time for money.

Fortunately, the opportunity now exists to take care of your body and get people moving. The days of teaching an unsustainable schedule of back-to-back classes to make ends meet will finally be a thing of the past. Instructors will need to be curious and flexible about new opportunities, determine what aligns with their strategy and develop new skills to stay relevant and productive.

Here are a few predictions about the continued evolution of group fitness opportunities:

  • Virtual: Digital delivery of group fitness has proven to provide so many ways to reach, refer and retain participants. Whether synchronously (livestreaming) or asynchronously (on-demand), it’s relatively inexpensive and simple to offer your classes online.
  • Venues: While in-person classes are still relevant and sought after, now is a great time to explore creative venues for those looking for group fitness outside of the gym. People are seeking fitness options in convenient places such as parks, offices and homes.
  • Packaging: You can get creative with how you offer your services. Participants will certainly still look to attend drop-in classes as part of a gym membership, but they also may want you at home or on the go. A la carte classes are still popular, but so are programs, such as a month-long restorative program or a 6-week strength series for new moms.

Understanding Behavior Change Is Necessary

While you may have once prioritized education and innovation around discovering a new piece of equipment or program, this will not be as much of a priority in 2021 or 2022. Instructors will need to shift their growth and continuing education to understand what brings participants to them and what will keep them moving. While behavior change has been a conversation in the health coach and personal trainer world for some time, the future of group fitness will depend on instructors learning more about what makes people tick and how best to infuse these principles in the group setting. The more you can understand where your participants are coming from and build trust, the better you can serve and motivate your classes for longer, no matter what program or platform you use.

Collaboration Beats Competition

If last year taught us anything, it was that we all need community. By working together and learning together, trust and commitment through adversity has grown stronger—participant to participant, participant to instructor, and instructor to instructor connection. As a group fitness instructor, you will need to continue approaching your work from a collaborative place. We are a global team dedicated to figuring out how to best get people moving and we need each other now more than ever.

As the landscape of group fitness continues to evolve, I hope instructors stay brave and sincere. Brave enough to continue trying new ways to share their talents, while remaining conscious of their ability to do less for more. The group fitness career path is brighter than ever for those who consider the possibilities, collaborate with others and embrace the future.

More Future Focused Articles

After the unprecedented year we had in 2020, what does 2021 look like for the rest fitness industry? Read our other future-focused articles below:

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Global fitness label launches flagship gym in Adelaide

SA-based global fitness clothing brand Ryderwear will open its first gym and bricks-and-mortar store in Adelaide’s west next month as it looks for ways to expand its empire.

The gym and retail store are set to open on Grange Road in Flinders Park on February 6 while the Ryderwear headquarters and warehouse will remain in nearby Beverley.

Previously, Ryderwear products have been sold through distributors and online.

Ryderwear chief marketing officer Mal Chia said the new studio, which was a year in the works and was still being built, was a natural progression for the business that had gained a cult following for its fitness clothing, particularly in the United States.

“It’s sort of like an Apple Store, where it is the physical embodiment of what the brand is all about, having an elite training space, with a retail store attached to it,” Chia said.

“We believe in living your best life through fitness, obviously the apparel being about what you wear and also the app as well. Now it’s about having a place where you train.”

Ryderwear was founded in Adelaide in 2009 by bodybuilder David Lukic and his now wife Natalie Lukic after the pair noticed a gap in the fitness clothing market. In the past decade, the company has grown from two employees to 60. 

The brand began by developing a range of apparel designed to mould to athletes’ bodies rather than hanging loose, which was the style of the time. It soon gained a cult following among weightlifters and bodybuilders in the United States after the launch of its signature D-Mak lifting shoe.

Ryderwear has since partnered with more than 500 influencers across social media platforms, including Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

Last year it launched its first workout app, PUSHH.

Chia said the brand’s latest venture would go ahead despite continuously evolving coronavirus restrictions, with the fitness market thriving.

He said casual passes, as well as flexible annual and weekly memberships would be available with people able to sign up through the Ryderwear website.

“We will primarily be a strength-focused gym and will have a huge open-plan, purpose-built gym spanning 775 sqm, with a diverse layout of the best Life Fitness and Hammer Strength gear on the market,” he said.

“There will also be a fully-equipped outdoor gym with squat racks, sled track, boxing bags and functional equipment.”

The gym and store are set to be open 24/7.

Fitness facilities were among a raft of businesses forced to close when South Australia introduced lockdown in response to coronavirus lockdowns in April and November.

Since re-opening for the second time in late November, they have been forced to maintain a density of one-person-per-two-square-metres. Gyms also must have a contact tracing system in place.

“In South Australia, while there has been the odd scare here and there, we’ve been very fortunate. So that gave us the confidence that we’d be able to cope,” Chia said.

“We’re also putting the proper precautions in place to make sure we’re able to deal with anything like that.

“Looking at the market as well, the appetite for fitness has never been higher. That’s only going to continue to grow.”

According to Fitness Australia, the number of Australians increasing their exercise habits has surged in the past 12 months.

Data from the industry body showed the number of Australians meeting the physical activity guidelines increased from 34.1 per cent to almost 75 per cent of adults according to a recent survey.

Ryderwear also launched a workout app early in 2020, just before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which was tailored towards elite gym-goers.

Chia said the response from users during the pandemic showed a need for at-home workouts, rather than purely gym-based exercises.

He said the PUSHH app had subsequently been redeveloped to target a broader female market and had been relaunched last week for iPhones, with an Android app set to go live next week.

“We created an app that was very much about the gym experience. Shortly after, with Covid and the gyms closing, we very quickly pivoted the app and changed it to being about home workouts,” Chia said.

“The underlying engine of it is still the same but with a clearer focus about who it’s for.

“(It’s) very much tailored towards women who are looking to get into resistance training.”

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Top tips for the survival of the fitness industry

2020 has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years to be in business. Some industries have been decimated more than others, and fitness is certainly in this category, particularly in Victoria.

What started out as a year filled with huge potential, planning the celebration of our 20th anniversary in business, soon became a nightmare and a fight for survival. The first lockdown was a shock for everyone, but at least we could see the need for drastic action to control the pandemic.

But that was back in March, and now nine months down the track the fitness industry in Victoria is finally attempting to get back on its feet, having to fight for the right to support the health of Victorians. The fitness industry is a key component in the physical and mental health of Victorians and it remains baffling as to why the Victorian government refused to acknowledge this fact.

Around Australia, the fitness industry returned to successful operation back in May/June, with successful COVID-19 protocols to protect clients and staff.  Victorian businesses were not permitted to resume operations until 9 November, despite desperate pleas from the public, medical professionals and the business sector.

The fitness industry is actually the most accessible source of physical and mental wellbeing for Australians. There is such a diverse range of activities available across the age groups that ensure access to professional support to improve our health. 

Governments have pushed funding into mental health services but the waitlists for services such as psychology and counselling are at impossible levels. Fitness facilities can support the transition back to physical and mental health by providing exercise, connection and community support.  Social isolation has been incredibly damaging during the pandemic, for all sectors of the community. The best way to reverse this trend is encourage everyone to get back out exercising in a safe and supportive environment.

That is what the fitness industry does best. As an industry, we are focused on supporting the health of Australians and providing safe and fun options to exercise. Research supports the positive outcomes for our physical and mental health from exercise and its not just strong bodies, it’s also strong minds.

Driving a strong and united industry forward will ensure high-quality standards across Australia. This is a priority to improve perception of our industry as this pandemic has illustrated that the fitness sector can continue to provide safe options for exercise in every other state around the nation. Victorian fitness businesses have had to fight for survival, and there will be many that may not.

The fitness sector is a diverse and vibrant part of the Australian economy.  Our biggest lesson from 2020 needs to be that the one thing none of us can take for granted is our health. Let’s focus on making our health the number one priority as we look forward to moving into the realm of 2021 with a view of optimism and positivity.

Jane Kilkenny, Founder, Fitness Energy

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Shannon Leach: Struggle With Infertility to Become a Fitness Coach & Mom of Five Kiddos

Shannon Leach wears many feathers in her cap, she is a mom of Five, wife, nurse practitioner, and an online Health and Fitness Coach.

After qualifying for the Boston Marathon twice, once in 2008 during the Seattle Marathon and in 2012 at the Portland Marathon. She finished the Boston Marathon with a personal best on April 15, 2013. Today she is an inspiring mom of five along with a fitness coach.

In her Interview with Namita Nayyar, President Women Fitness , she answers common doubts, questions, fear women undergo by sharing her infertility journey to living a healthy lifestyle besides being a proud mother of five, Today. She shares input from her diet, fitness routine to prove fitness is achievable for all women.

Namita Nayyar

You have been into an active lifestyle, fitness, and sports since childhood. Share your journey from being a soccer player to finish the Boston Marathon with a personal best.

Shannon leach

Shannon Leach

My family has always been active — growing up, my siblings were all involved in year-round sports. We would go on family hikes, bikes, and even runs. Throughout junior high & high school, I ran track and played softball, basketball, and soccer. Soccer became my primary sport and passion, and I was fortunate enough to play college soccer at a Division 1 school from 2003-2007. After college, I no longer had a built-in fitness routine, so, to stay active, I took workout classes at our local YMCA and trained for half marathons, marathons, and triathlons.

I fell in love with running, and quickly set the Boston Marathon as a bucket list item. I qualified for the Boston Marathon twice, once in 2008 during the Seattle Marathon and then in 2012 at the Portland Marathon. It was on April 15, 2013, that I finished the Boston Marathon with a personal best. That was the most memorable and amazing athletic event I have ever been a part of… until the bombs went off. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about and say a prayer for those who were injured or died as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing.

However, we then decided we wanted to start to grow our family, and it was then that I learned I wouldn’t be able to have children on my own. A huge part of my life and my story is that I struggle with infertility. I’ll be sharing more later on this, but we have been incredibly blessed that our fertility treatments were successful — our first child, a daughter, was born in December of 2014.

Sports, fitness, and exercise had played such a strong role in my life that, as I neared the end of my first pregnancy, I started panicking about the available time I would have to work out. I knew it would be harder to get to a workout class at the gym or train for a marathon or triathlon. I feared I would never again feel fit and strong… that is, until I saw a friend sharing an at-home fitness program she started and invited me to a virtual health and accountability bootcamp.

Before starting my first program, however, I was a bit skeptical about working out from home and whether I would be motivated enough to do it in my living room, and whether I’d be challenged enough.  These programs completely changed my mind about home workouts — they were HARD (but modifiable and so much variety it is possible for anyone at any fitness level to do). I quickly fell in love with the support system from the virtual bootcamps, so it was easy to stay motivated.

I quickly realized that, with a newborn baby, I didn’t want to and couldn’t devote extra time to get to the gym. By the time I would unload the car seat, take her to childcare, race to my class, race to grab her, feed her, and get home, it was a 2+ hour process for a 30-45-minute class. I realized that I had been looking for a cost-effective, time-efficient way to get back into a healthy lifestyle and I had found it.  Best of all, I could do it at home and stay active despite being a busy, working mom.

It has been six years, nearly, since I started my first program. And while I primarily do at-home workouts, I weave in my running. I have yet to run another marathon since the Boston Marathon (it’s a little harder these days with 5 young kids to find the time to train for a marathon), but I have done a few half marathons and triathlons, and I love running a few short runs a few times a week. I’d love to run another marathon; the NY and Chicago Marathons have always been bucketing list items. And I’d absolutely love to run the Boston Marathon again one day. But I know there is a time and season for all things. Marathon training is not in the cards for me right now and I’m totally okay with that.

I absolutely love to swim, and pre-COVID shutdowns, I was swimming once a week. I also love a good cycle class or session at home (we have a used spin bike I bought a few years back during one of my pregnancies IVF cycles) because I wanted a low-impact cardio exercise. I also belong to a Triathlon Club (unfortunately haven’t been able to meet because of COVID), but it’s a local club through our YMCA where most Sundays throughout the year, we meet to swim 40 minutes, bike 40 minutes, and run a 5K (3.1miles). It’s a wonderful community and a kick-butt workout. I look forward to doing that again in the future.

But 90% of my workouts are programs that I stream from home, usually 30 minutes or less per day. And it’s in my basement. It’s not fancy. It’s not well-lit. But it’s allowed me to stay healthy and active, and sneak in a quick workout before my kids even wake.

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The Future of the Fitness Industry 2021

Uber changed transportation. Netflix put Blockbuster out of business. Toy sales from Target and Wal-Mart contributed to the demise of retailer Toys R Us. The introduction of the iPhone by Apple basically ended the sales of their popular iPod. Disruption is much more than a trendy catchphrase—it is a fundamental principle of business. Disruption is often the result of a competitor who figures out how to provide a better product or service at a lower price point. For example, the growth of online retail giant Amazon has led to the closure of many brick-and-mortar retailers. And as we’ve witnessed this past year, outside forces such as a pandemic can also cause a major disruption to numerous sectors and industries, including the fitness industry.

As challenging as the current climate is for the fitness industry, the future is nonetheless looking bright for those who survive the existing climate and, most importantly, evolve with how this increasingly changing industry. While there is no way to accurately predict the future, this blog offers a general overview of how COVID-19 is disrupting the fitness industry and includes a few educated guesses for how health and exercise professionals can help their businesses thrive in 2021 and beyond.

Here are five ways that health and exercise professionals could expect the industry to change in the foreseeable future.

1. The general public’s perception of fitness will finally change

ACE Certified Professionals have long known the role that regular exercise plays in promoting good health and reducing the risk of developing a chronic health condition. One bright spot for health and exercise professionals is that physical activity is finally being recognized by the general public as a means of achieving and maintaining optimal health. Despite years of the public health community attempting to educate consumers about the health benefits of exercise, many people still think of exercise solely as a way to achieve an aesthetic outcome like losing weight or growing muscle. As the medical community begins to understand the role of exercise for reducing the risk of fatality from COVID-19 and other diseases, it should lead to a growth in new fitness consumers who will need the guidance of an educated professional.

The health benefits of exercise have been understood for years, but the pandemic may be the catalyst that can finally encourage the general public to begin adopting healthier lifestyles. This, in turn, creates opportunities for health and exercise professionals with the ability to facilitate that change.

Amy Thompson, vice president of the Fitness Group for Pocket Media and an ACE Certified Health Coach, is excited about this growth opportunity. “In a post-COVID-19 world, the need to help others adopt healthier lifestyles is the perfect scenario for ACE Health Coaches who have the skills and abilities to help clients make the lifestyle changes necessary to establish healthier habits,” she says.

2. The delivery of fitness to the consumer is evolving

In an effort to curtail spread of the virus, many government entities forced the closure of fitness facilities all over the world. These mandated shutdowns have resulted in the bankruptcy of large health club operators such as 24-Hour Fitness and Town Sports International, as well as the closure of studio operators such as Flywheel and numerous independent business owners. These closures are a significant source of disruption and have resulted in lost jobs and incomes for thousands of health and exercise professionals. However, these closures have also encouraged more widespread use of virtual programming, which may provide tremendous business opportunities for ACE Certified Professionals. While home-based workouts are not new, the pandemic has spawned an explosion of online services that represent an entirely new way of delivering workout programs to consumers.

Facilities such as studios and health clubs have to pay rent for a physical location; when the mandated shutdowns occurred, operators had to close their businesses and forgo the ability to collect revenue while still being contractually obligated to pay rent. Companies that provide live-stream fitness classes, such as Peloton, Les Mills on Demand and the Mirror, have a major competitive advantage over traditional fitness facilities in that they can deliver workouts to an almost unlimited number of consumers while paying only a fraction in rent. Video fitness providers were experiencing gradual growth prior to the spring of 2020, but as governments established the shelter-in-place orders that forced facilities to close, that growth became exponential.

Virtual fitness classes can be delivered one of two ways: asynchronously (i.e., on demand), meaning a consumer can choose a workout from a library of previously recorded programs; or synchronously (i.e., livestream), where the consumer follows along with class as it is being taught live and broadcast over the internet. Whether on-demand or live, consumers looking for workout solutions at home quickly adapted and became accustomed to the convenience of doing an instructor-led workout from the comfort of their own home. This change in consumer behavior will create business opportunities for ACE Certified Professionals who can begin offering streaming workouts of their own.

Large companies are not the only ones providing streaming workouts. When health and exercise professionals were put on furlough or terminated by their employers, many responded by using services such as FaceTime, Zoom or Facebook Live to continue working with clients and teaching group fitness classes. Aimee Nicotera, an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor based in Massachusetts, was put on furlough and ultimately terminated by a national health club company. In response, Aimee turned her basement into a video-streaming studio and has begun offering workout classes that participants can either take live or through an on-demand system she established through Vimeo. Creating her platform has allowed Aimee to continue teaching to her clients in her current market and made it possible to reconnect with former group fitness participants in Southern California and South Florida, where she lived prior to her current residence.

3. Social media allows health and exercise professionals to market directly to the consumer

Another disruptive force that is changing the way that health and exercise professionals connect with clients is the use of social media. The traditional model of a fitness business involves working with clients in a physical location, such as a health club or traveling to work with clients directly in their homes. Prior to COVID-19, that model was already starting to change and now even more health and exercise professionals are adapting to the use of social media to attract new clients. Personal trainers can design and produce workout programs for a variety of outcomes, from weight loss to muscle growth, and then market it by creating engaging content on video platforms such as TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.

Between streaming platforms and social media channels, health and exercise professionals have a variety of ways to engage with and deliver solutions to clients. However, many individuals marketing fitness services via social media are relying primarily on physical appearance or creative content to promote their services. This creates a need for ACE Certified Professionals to communicate the benefits of working with a professional who holds an accredited certification.

4. Nothing will be able to replace the live, in-person fitness experience

While consumers are adapting to having access to workouts anywhere they have a screen and wi-fi connection, nothing can replace the connection that occurs between an instructor and their participants during a workout. Kira Stokes is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor who taught live classes in New York City prior to the pandemic. Stokes is also a well-known fitness personality on Instagram and created her own app that delivers her signature workout program, the Stoked Method. “I launched my app a year before the closures, and I’m extremely grateful for its success and continuous growth,” explains Stokes. “While the app will always be the core of my business, I can’t wait to get back to teaching live in-person classes and events when it is safe to do so.

5. The changing office environment will increase the demand for live, in-person workouts

The pandemic has spurred a dramatic change in office environments, as many organizations are realizing that modern technology allows employees to work remotely while staying connected with their co-workers. As a result, many are transitioning to a remote workforce and drastically reducing expenditures on office space. Working from home is convenient but people will undoubtedly want the opportunity to have live, in-person social interactions at some point during the day and many will seek them at their local fitness facility.

Yes, there will continue to be closures of both large and small fitness facility operators, and yes, streaming workouts will become a consistent part of the fitness landscape. However, once we are able to transition to whatever the new normal will be after the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, the need for instructors to lead live workouts, both group and one-on-one, will increase and create new opportunities for ACE Certified Professionals. Fitness consumers love the in-person connection of a live class, but they also appreciate the convenience of being able to do a streaming workout at home when their schedule doesn’t make a trip to the gym possible. As health clubs experience growth in the post-COVID environment they will need to adjust programming to offer both live and streaming options for their members.

Matt Wright, an executive in suburban New Jersey who is helping with the production of a new facility, understands the need to evolve operations and indicated the company he is working for is creating a space to allow personal trainers to deliver sessions via a streaming platform. As devastating and fatal as the virus has been, the silver lining is that once all of the data is reviewed, there is a strong possibility that health and exercise professionals will be considered essential personnel because we can help people achieve and maintain optimal levels of health.

Expert Discussion: What to Expect in 2021 for Health and Exercise Professionals

ACE Expert and Certified GFI Shannon Fable held a live discussion with 4 industry experts on what to expect and how to thrive as a health and exercise professional in 2021. Check it out!

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Mark Wahlberg, To Debut His Burger-Chain In Australia This Spring

After taking his recent trip to Australia, Mark Wahlberg is planning to give Aussies a tasty burger fix.

As a man of many skills, specifically business savvy, an actor and a former singer – basically known as Marky Mark – he has told an Australian TV program that Aussies will be able to get their first bite of his ‘Wahlburger’s by spring this year.

He even added he’ll accommodate Aussie flavours like canned beetroot “if that’s what people want”.

He revealed that his pallet has grown a bit and did not think he’d like vegemite either and he had quite a bit of it as he visited the country in the midst of the pandemic.

He noted that Australia’s response to the global outbreak has been “fascinating” and claimed he wished his native America “could have done the same”. “The mandatory quarantine has allowed people to get back to normal, or find the new normal.”

Being the youngest among nine siblings, he said he’s always wanted to bring his family burger-chain to Australia.

His focus is growing the business while his older brother is in the kitchen. “My brother Paul doesn’t like it when he’s getting yelled out by me. But we all have our role and position in the businesses so we’re all getting along fine now.” He said.

Going way back, Wahlberg has had his fingers in many pies, from television productions and building the F45 fitness empire to food and clothing line. And now, he is constantly thinking about how to widen his portfolio, although acting is his primary love.

In the interview, he said “I consider myself an artist before I consider myself a businessman. I’m making movies now that I really want to make, they present stories that need to be told, ones that are entertainment, that make people think,” he said.

The actor said his current role is quite physically demanding but explained he would be jumping to another end of the scale soon. “I’m out to do a very physical movie where I play an adventure racer so I’m training quite hard right now. But the next movie I have to put on quite a bit of weight.” He said.

He even planned on moving to his Byron Bay home if things Down Under would go well.

(Image source: Boss Hunting)

Pandemic a ‘learning experience’ for BM Fitness | Goulburn Post

news, local-news, Bonnie Marks, BM Fitness, fitness, Gym, trainer, personal, women

When you walk into BM Fitness you are immediately enveloped in the light pink colour of the walls. Soft carpeting, cane furniture and the scent of candles greet you. Along one wall is a selection of active wear hanging on a rose gold rack. A children’s play area sits in one corner – at easy vantage point from the handful of workout machines and other goodies that make up the fitness studio. BM Fitness is clearly not an ordinary gym. READ ALSO: The owner, Bonnie Marks, sat perched upon a stool ready to meet her clients. Even though the young entrepreneur had been up since 4:30am, she looked fresh as a daisy. Two years ago this fast growing business started as a side hustle for Bonnie who worked at a dance school in Goulburn. Bonnie said the business started “in a tiny little corner with a handful of clients and it grew from there”. Now BM Fitness has 50 clients and offers a variety of services including: personal training, small group training, pre and post natal training, and has recently taken on disabled and elderly customers. The young businesswoman started the studio after people reached out for personal training. “A lot of women didn’t feel comfortable in a traditional gym, and didn’t know what they were doing,” Bonnie said. “I wanted to create a safe space where women could come and feel comfortable.” Bonnie said due to COVID-19 restrictions the past year had been a challenge “but at the same time a massive learning experience.” Over lock down she adapted and offered training sessions online. “We went online. It was different but I loved it,” she said. “It was an opportunity to grow the business.” And grow it did, BM Fitness moved into a bigger studio at the start of January this year. Bonnie has big plans for 2021 with an additional trainer and a nutritional coach set to join the team. “We are huge on teaching that fitness is not a chore. It’s like brushing your teeth, you have to do it everyday to stay well,” Bonnie said. Visit www.bmfitnessglbn.com for more information.



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The Fitness of Christmas “PAST” – Present -Future: Part 1

The Fitness of Christmas “PAST” – Present -Future: Part 1

A Christmas Carol, the old Charles Dickens’ novel, has a special theme that we can relate to many of life’s experiences. This is a holiday classic that you may have watched growing up. As a refresher, this Christmas tale is about a man, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by three spirits, the past, present, and future. Each spirit showcases different scenarios that have had an impact on others.

Since it is the Christmas season, and a time to reflect, it seems right to revisit where fitness has gone over the years, from short-lived fitness fads to revolutionary trends that are still popular today.


It was a magical time when exercising was starting to become ‘something’. Gyms were in warehouses, sometimes grungy, hole in the wall spaces with benches, barbells, and hand weights.

Guys would pump the heavy weights aiming to ‘build size’ by cycling their workouts with the typical split of back/ bi’s, chest/ tri’s, shoulders/ traps, and maybe a leg day. There was a craze for synthetic supplements that made ‘bulking up’ like Arnold every guy’s mission.

The ladies would sweat it out while following the latest diet fads aimed to look supermodel skinny. Group exercise became a ‘thing’ and it started with jazzercise, hi-lo, or step aerobics. Step touch, grape vines, side bends, and sit-ups went great with a pair of leg warmers, a leotard over leggings, and a sweat band to match. Other trends were to spend countless hours of cardio on the Nordictrack, Stair Master or elliptical machines.

During this time, the beginning of the ‘exercise era’ was formed and set a tone that we can remember fondly, leg warmers and all.


Let’s take a journey back to the “Fitness Past”, pre 2000’s, to remember what ‘physical exercise’ was then and discuss some of the ‘old school’ exercise trends and those gimmicks that sounded good in theory, but didn’t quite work.

‘The 90s’


1. Step Aerobics

• An aerobic craze developed by Gin Miller, to initially help strengthen the supporting muscles of the knee by stepping up-down in place. The Step evolved into a creative way to burn calories with a choreographed routine.
Tae Bo

• Billy Blanks rolled out his high energy, full body cardio mix of tae kwon do and boxing drills set to hip hop tunes.

‘The 80s’


1. Jazzercise

• Created by Judi Sheppard Missett in 1969, but didn’t make it big until the 80s. This workout mixed jazz with cardio and resistance moves in a dance style.

• Can you say leg warmers, leotards, and Jane Fonda?! She’s the queen of aerobics and took it mainstream with the best selling exercise videos of all time! (I have just about very VHS she made!!)

2. Sweatin’ to the Oldies

• Richard Simmons’ is one to remember with an energetic and disco sweat style that got all fitness levels moving to fitness fun. His short shorts, sparkly tanks, and curly hair are images you can’t forget!

‘The 70s’


1. Bodybuilding

• Arnold Schwarzenegger arguably made muscle size matter. Lifting heavy weights became popular in the 1970s and created a look that young adults strived to accomplish.


In addition to the “classic classes of the past”, there has also been some unforgettable pieces of fitness equipment that we either grew to love, or simply used as a clothing rack!

Who could forget the Thigh Master! Suzanne Somers set the trend to slim and trim the thighs with a single device at home. There was also the Ab Roller that helped people do crunches while proving support for the head, neck, and upper body. The Slide Board tried to make a breakthrough as a tool to improve lateral movement and trim the thighs. (1980’s)

The 70s had a revolutionary creation that marked the start of cutting edge home fitness equipment. This is when The Total Gym was created- the name says it all! It’ versatility was designed to provide a total body workout by using gravity as resistance. This equipment was the start of the infomercial world showcasing Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley performing their home fitness routines.

As we venture further back, along came the machine that did it for you by buckling up your body with a Vibrating Belt. It aimed to vibrate the fat away without breaking a sweat to get maximum results with little effort. (1960’s) Last but not least, Hula Hooping was known for trimming the waistline and eventually became a popular toy to twirl around the body for fun. (1950’s)

Some fitness fads flare and fizzle, while others stick around or inspire new variations on a classic theme. One thing we have learned from the past is that being physically fit has been the wave of our future. It’s never to late to learn classic exercises that will still be around for years to come.


Stemming from the past, the Total Gym has been a staple in home fitness equipment. This workout contains 8 ‘old school’ classic moves that are legendary from when Total Gym was first introduced.

An ‘old school’ workout wouldn’t be the same without the following warm-up. So let’s take it back to the old school where aerobics was so cool….


• Step Touch & Grape Vine
• Hamstring curls
• Side Bends

Guys with BIG muscles in mind:

1. Pull-Ups
• High incline, attach Pull-Up Bars

2. Chest Press
• Low-high incline based on your strength level & goals, attach Cables

3. Bicep Curls
• Low-high incline based on your strength level, Cables

4. Squats
• High incline, attach Squat Stand

Gals wanting to WIDDLE the middle and SLIM the thighs:

5. Glute Lifts
• Medium incline, Squat Stand

6. Outer – Inner Thigh Leg Lifts/ Calisthenics
• Low-medium incline, Cables

7. Arm Circles
• Low-medium incline, Cables

8. Sit-Ups/ Pullover Crunch
• Low-medium incline, Cables

Be sure to check out the video demonstration to see how these ‘oldies but goodies’ are performed on your Total Gym.


Reflecting on ‘The Fitness Past’ we see how the exercise seeds were planted to grow, evolve, and inspire change within health and fitness. It’s a reflection of what we know, what has worked best, and what needed improvement.

The Ghost of Christmas Past helped Scrooge reflect and remember the choices he made to build a better future. We too must learn from the past by seeing what worked, what was a fad, and what’s been tried and true to this day. One of the most revolutionary pieces of equipment that have remained so very relevant over the years is the Total Gym. It’s like a fine wine- it keeps improving over time while maintaining its original integrity to perform the most ‘classic moves’.

Stay tuned for part two, as we continue to see how and where fitness is in our current world.

In the spirit of the season, love and joy to you.


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This Highly-Rated Fitness App Helps You Start Your New Year’s Resolution

Get in great shape and start a healthier diet and fitness regimen.

2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

This past year has been an unhealthy one for many of us — not just from a mental health standpoint, but from a physical standpoint, as well. An extended quarantine isn’t exactly conducive to an active lifestyle, and with so few things operating like normal, many of us have turned to Netflix and food for comfort. There’s no shame in that, but if you want to get back in shape and improve your health in 2021, it’s time to start planning. That’s why now is a great time to get BetterMe Home Workout & Diet.

BetterMe is a straightforward app that can help you get into the best shape of your life without completely overhauling your routine. Whether you’re looking to lose a little weight at home, improve your diet, drink more water, or even work out with a personal trainer, BetterMe can help. With personalized sets of exercises and nutrition plans, BetterMe helps you get on a fitness and health journey that makes reaching your goals easier than ever. The app features an engaged community with daily articles, tips, tricks, and answers to all of your exercise questions, helping you stay on track.

All of the workouts can be done at home, and all meal plans feature dishes picked according to your preferences and are easy to make with video recipes. Workouts range from advanced down to simple yoga and walking workouts to help you develop a plan that works for your capabilities and your lifestyle. It’s so flexible, it’s no surprise BetterMe has earned 4.5 stars on 88,000 ratings in the App Store and 4.3 stars on 67,000 ratings on Google Play.

Get in great shape in 2021. Right now, a one-year subscription to BetterMe Home Workout & Diet is 91 percent off $240 at just $19.99. Alternatively, you can spring for a three-year subscription for just $29.99, or a lifetime subscription for just $39.99.

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