19/06/2020 Can Your Home Ever Fully Replace an Exercise Environment?

OK, so let’s look at some of the obvious pros to working out at home:

You don’t need to travel anywhere – what a time saver!

Forgot your water? Just head to the kitchen!

There’s definitely no need to worry about how you look!

But would we miss the group exercise classes, the gyms or the leisure centres if they never opened up again?…

I’ve seen quite a few articles popping up saying that lockdown has changed the future of exercise forever. Said articles have featured statements from members of the public saying they will not be renewing their gym memberships when they are allowed to reopen.

People have realised they can work out at home for free with very little or no equipment. They’ve also realised they can buy a lot of equipment and turn their living rooms into home gyms! Either way, there’s a saving to be made on petrol, classes and memberships.

It’s been widely reported that there has been a big surge in exercise uptake during lockdown. This at a time when all classes, fitness studios and centres are shut. It’s no surprise people are left scratching their heads wondering if we ever needed them in the first place.

I think one of the biggest reasons we’ve seen exercising at home become so popular is nothing to do with the extra free time, the cheap cost or the increased daily promotion of exercise as being an essential activity with multiple benefits.

I think it’s more to do with the fact that working out at home breaks down one of the biggest barriers people encounter as they embark on getting into exercise – feeling self-conscious.

The idea of having to exercise in sight of other people is the stuff of nightmares for some. They fear they will stick out like a sore thumb as ‘the beginner’ or ‘newbie,’ and will be judged for visibly struggling. They dread the thought of sweating and jiggling in front of a room full of strangers.

This anxiety is completely removed when it comes to working out at home behind closed doors. No-one can see you then! (unless a person from your household walks in or you don’t close your blinds)

However, I would like to think that 9 times out of 10, the bravery it takes for someone to overcome their self-consciousness to get to a gym, leisure centre or class is always rewarded.

I believe you cannot replace the experience or benefits of attending a real-life, group class or doing a workout in a gym environment.

Of course, how can I remain unbiased on the subject as someone who makes a living from running dance and dance-based exercise classes?! I can’t. But hear me out…

I know for me and many of my class members, going to a class is not just about the exercise. It’s faaar from it.

It’s a chance to socialise, see friends and have an hour of escapism away from home and work life. It’s about interacting with others. We complain to each other, empathise with each other and have a laugh with each other. So many friendships have been formed at my classes and I know many members like to get together outside of class.

When you workout in a group, you have the group atmosphere! It’s just more fun. There’s a feeling of all being in it together. There’s an energy about a group class which can be really motivating. You have that vocal support from not just your teacher, but the rest of the class too.

Another essential part of gyms, studios and classes is instruction. Of course, you can get instruction during an online class at home, but the disadvantage is the person giving the instruction can’t see you and what you’re doing. Corrections can be quickly made and advice easily given in person. I’m sure we’ve all been down the Google rabbit hole looking for answers to our health and fitness questions and ended up in a state of confusion trying to process conflicting opinions.

Not only is it easier to ask questions face to face, I personally think it’s also easier to follow an instructor in the flesh instead of on a screen.

Last but not least, there is the issue of the home environment! Not all homes are spacious enough or suitable enough to allow for the type of workout you might want to do. While exercising at home in some capacity is possible, it is not necessarily by any means ideal! Exercising at home can also be challenging if you don’t live alone. Outdoor exercise is naturally a strong alternative, but let’s face it, we have the Great British weather to contend with!

I’m definitely not knocking online classes. How could I? I’ve been providing them to my existing class members!

But I know we will look forward to seeing our class friends, gym buddies and teachers/students when we finally can. It will be a reminder that we’re in this together, exercise can be more fun together and that we’re all in the same boat just trying to live fit, healthy, happy lives.