Last night, some of the Trainerize marketing team got their sweat on. Joined by Paula, the Director of Marketing, I logged on to a live-streamed class from one of our favorite local boutique studios (she in her apartment, me in mine—trying to ignore my fiancé still working at the dining room table 5 feet away).
Having visited the studio in-person many times before, Paula and I were both huge fans of their chill vibes and tough workouts. We weren’t quite sure how that would translate to digital, but as cheerleaders of online training and fitness technology, we were hopeful it would hit the mark and give us at least a taste of the experience we already knew and loved.
Optimistic, I laid out my yoga mat, grabbed my mini dumbbells, and waited in the Zoom call for the virtual class to begin.
The first thing that happened was the instructor, Kate told us all to turn our webcams on. She said that she wanted to see us the same way she would if we were there with her in the studio. I trepidatiously turned on my video (hoping no one would notice or judge the pile of unfolded laundry on the bed behind me) and watched in awe as each participant did the same in turn.
There were people in their backyards, in their bedrooms, in their kitchens—each carving out a space in their home and some time in their day to do something good for themselves. I scrolled through the participants and found Paula, prepped and ready to go. I recognized a few other studio regulars on the call, too.
Kate kicked things off with an intro to herself and the class. She encouraged those who didn’t have weights at home to go and grab a couple of cans from their cupboard, attesting that she’d tried it out herself the day before with a can of black beans and a can of chickpeas. The music swelled up and with that, we were off!
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As the first real workout I’d done since starting social isolation re: COVID-19, it was like breathing in fresh air. I felt strong, I felt recharged, and most importantly: I didn’t feel so alone.
With more than 125 people online and sweating it out alongside me (digitally), I was anything but isolated. As Paula put it when we FaceTimed each other right after the class ended, “You know how you can have friends who live really far away, and yet, no matter the distance or how long its been since you last saw them, you still feel close to them? Connected to them?”
It was like that. Exactly like that.
We worked hard, squatting and curling to the beat, forgetting about our stresses and worries for the hour.
Kate talked to us throughout, telling us to let it all go, offering up modifications to moves so we wouldn’t annoy any neighbors and, as she joked, “risk eviction”. She regularly checked the feed of participant webcams, calling out to us with tips on form and encouragement. Anytime I felt like giving up, dropping the weights, and taking a breather, I’d remember she (and everyone else) could see me and somehow I’d dig a little deeper and push a little longer.
While the workout itself was excellent, one of the most amazing parts of the entire experience actually came when the class was over. Instead of everyone quickly hopping off the call and disappearing immediately, participants unmuted themselves and started calling out messages of thanks to Kate and the studio. “Thank you! Stay healthy!”, “Thank you! We love you, Kate!”, “Miss you guys! Thanks for the workout!”. Virtual high-fives were given, air kisses were blown, and we all basked in a few moments of togetherness and gratitude before reluctantly closing the window.
What this proved to me was that it really is possible to keep your community alive and thriving through online training and the magic of technology. Was it the same as stepping into the studio? No. But it was a new, different, and amazing experience that left me with the same warm and fuzzy feeling and the same sense of camaraderie at my aching quads and shaking arms post-workout.
It was amazing.