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And the show must go On-Line

This article was published by The Telegraph on Thursday 30 April 2020.

The Covid Virus is a game-changer for fitness in India. In the present scenario, a pretty unique story has emerged involving both the fitness enthusiast and the industry in general. With no access to gyms, sporting facilities and other recreational centers, people have no option but to explore innovative ways of staying fit at home. Over the last month, live online fitness classes are progressively gaining popularity as one such solution.

Now, online fitness courses were always available on the internet. A subscription would permit you to access premium fitness videos for a follow-and-do-it-yourself type workout. But, with the COVID outbreak, things have taken a rather unique turn. Now, instead of pre-recorded videos, fitness coaches are actually taking online live sessions. This makes the course a lot more interactive and lets the coach actually monitor your progress, check your form and give you real time feedback. In short, it is certainly more fun than watching a video and trying to imitate pre-recorded moves.

Let’s face facts, people are not wired to stay in isolation for any length of time. We all know about the industrial and scientific revolutions. They leap-frogged mankind’s progress beyond what could have been imagined at that time. But, what is often missed is the cognitive revolution that dates even further back. It is when humans got together to dream and to collaborate i.e. the birth of a social structure. Because of our social nature, this forced lockdown is adversely playing on the psychology of many. Most of us are not mentally prepared to be in isolation. Perhaps, that is why, these online fitness courses with multiple participants working out in a classroom type situation is a welcome breather. Many people I know have actually started looking forward to this little social interaction in an otherwise mundane lockdown day. Rather than sinking into depression, it is certainly better to be in-sync with an interesting online session full of like minded people!!

Conducting a fitness program online is a challenge for any coach who is not used to it. He or she is tasked with providing an interesting and physically challenging program without the equipment’s that is normally available in the gym. There are other issues such as space constraints, inability to physically aid the client in executing the movements, spatial orientation, and directional issues. Furthermore, teaching a skill based program, such as Karate, to children compounds the problem many times over like holding their attention span for an extended time period, establishing group rules and discipline in a virtual environment. It does need innovation, adaptation and a high level of skill on the part of the coach to successfully carry this out. Which brings us to a very important question i.e. what should we look for when we sign up for one such program? Below are a few pointers…

- The coach should be associated with an establishment such as a gym, yoga or martial arts studio.

- The coach must be experienced and duly certified.

- The coach must have adequate communication skills to effectively deliver the program.

- The coach, during the initial interview, should carry out an assessment of the clients overall health and fitness prior starting the program.

- It is within the rights of the client to ask for a demo class. However, bear in mind that this has its own internet security challenges and the coach may not agree. However, an initial short subscription of classes should be permitted for the client to test the program.

Finally, remember that post lockdown, you may wish to carry on with the program. Therefore, it is always advisable to sign up with a local fitness organization giving you the option of continuing your training in their brick and mortar establishment!

As a client, all you will need is some empty space, a good internet connection and (preferably) a laptop. Although a large screen mobile will do just fine!! So lets work-boredom-out of our lives during this testing period by joining a good online fitness program.

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