Exercise videos have come a long way since the Sweatin’ to the Oldies VHS tapes our parents used. If your parents are anything like mine, they worked out to them religiously–for the month of January. Then, they inevitably got bored with the same old exercise routine and those tapes gathered dust on top of the VCR until the next New Year’s resolution. This is what today’s live stream exercise classes seek to cure: the boredom of doing the same old thing every single day.
Live streaming is a way to keep exercise fresh, exciting, and challenging. New content and techniques keep people coming back and help them stick to a routine. These types of classes have seen unprecedented success since their initial rollout early this decade and are going to be a burgeoning industry in the years to come.
The Evolution of Live Stream Exercise Classes
The precursor to live stream exercise classes was the on-demand fitness channel of the early 2000s. Most people remember these channels as the ones tucked into the 500s on their channel guide. They offered a certain convenience by allowing people to participate in various prerecorded exercise routines with just a few clicks of their remotes. This gave them the variety they needed to keep coming back, but there was something missing: structure. As they could complete the routine at any time, people wound up procrastinating. In the end, fitness channels weren’t much better than the fitness tapes people would stick in their VCRs.
Then, in January of 2016, “Daily Burn” chose to roll out a live stream program as an expansion of its on-demand options. Every day at 9 a.m., consumers could participate in a live workout with JD Roberto, a personal trainer and TV personality. This live feature provided a major boost in subscribers for the company, helping them reach more than 150,000 monthly paid members.
While Daily Burn wasn’t the first or only live streaming exercise program of its time, it was arguably the highest-profile. It helped to introduce a mainstream group of consumers to the concept of live streaming fitness, and gave birth to an entirely new segment of the fitness industry.
Why Consumers Are Flocking to Streaming Fitness
Perhaps the most obvious reason that people are so excited about live stream exercise classes is affordability. The average gym membership costs about $60 per month. Meanwhile, access to an app with live streaming videos typically costs under $20. However, the savings aren’t the only reason people are choosing streaming fitness. Here are just a few other benefits:
- Convenience: A live streamed exercise program can be completed from just about anywhere, saving people the trouble of driving to the gym, finding parking, and getting a spot in a high-demand class.
- Variety: When it comes to exercise classes, people are limited by what’s in their area. Pilates or yoga might be the only options near them when they really want something like CrossFit. Live streaming is able to provide a virtually endless well of choices and can even help introduce users to new options they may never have considered before.
- Comfort: Beginners might feel intimidated or embarrassed the first time they attend an exercise class in the real world. With live streaming, they’re doing it from the privacy and comfort of their homes with minimal pressure to get it right the first time.
- Community: Live streaming can create a sense of community that recorded on-demand exercise classes lack. It makes exercise inclusive regardless of knowledge or skill level. Meanwhile, people get to see the same instructors every day while enjoying new exercise routines as their skills increase.
Of course, live streaming isn’t perfect. A poor internet connection can ruin a class. Also, there’s no personal physical interaction with the instructor, which is important in getting the right form. However, it’s possible that an alternative to live streaming–video conferencing–could resolve some of these problems.
What About Fitness Over Video Conference?
Live streamed fitness classes are a one-way line of communication. While consumers are watching their instructor live, their instructor isn’t watching them. Typically, live stream exercise classes are targeted at a mass audience, which would make video conferencing impossible. There would be far too many people on the call and too much communication back and forth to make a two-way call with such an audience truly effective.
Exercise classes via video call are better suited to a one-on-one situation.
That’s not to say that there’s no use for video conferencing in fitness. Instead, exercise classes via video call are better suited to a one-on-one situation, and video calling is already being used this way. Premier Fitness is a good example. This service provides remote personal trainers who schedule sessions with clients over Skype. It’s used as a value-add service for the company’s personal trainers who also provide in-person training. It’s a means of bringing the gym to clients, rather than the other way around.
Video conferencing could be used within the telemedicine industry to enable individuals to receive personal instruction from physical or occupational therapists in completing daily home exercises to support their recovery. This healthcare-style fitness class would really only work over video conference due to privacy concerns and the need for a secure end-to-end connection.
Live stream exercise programs are affordable, accessible, and suitable for every fitness level, from beginner to expert.
Large-scale video conferencing fitness has been slower to catch on. Aside from the technical challenges, it also eliminates one of the main benefits of streaming fitness: privacy. Individuals like attending live exercise classes while maintaining privacy through a one-way connection. In a way, it’s the best of both worlds when it comes to fitness instruction.
Anything that encourages people to exercise is a good thing, but live stream exercise classes are in a category all their own. These programs are affordable, accessible, and suitable for every fitness level, from beginner to expert. In the future, features like augmented and virtual reality could make these classes even more immersive. For the time being, innovative live streamed classes are providing the variety needed to keep people engaged and excited about working out.