Getting lean in quarantine: Local fitness studios help Hoosiers keep fit through virtual workouts

In Your Neighborhood

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Over the last several weeks, we’ve all had to learn how to adjust to a new normal. We’ve adapted to working from home, home schooling children, and trying our best to stay active. And although gyms and fitness studios are closed, they are making it easier than ever for members—and non-members—to engage with a fitness community and stay fit while social distancing.

We’re bringing some of the city’s favorite local gyms right to your living room on this trip “In Your Neighborhood.”

Orangetheory studio workout (Photo credit: Facebook)

“The physical benefits up front of boosting immunity, keeping our cardiovascular and respiratory health in tip-top shape to combat the virus, that’s obviously very important,” said Orangetheory Fitness Regional Trainer, Kaity Wachtel. “But the community aspect and the mental health piece of things is even more important.”

According to Wachtel, fitness and fitness communities are more important now than they’ve ever been because humans are social beings by nature and life without interaction can quickly take a toll.

“The virtual sense of our communities is incredibly important to our mental health,” she explained. “So right now more than ever, taking to Facebook, being a part of these teams—albeit virtually— will allow us to feel less isolated. ..To feel less alone while we navigate these uncharted waters.”

Fortunately, these days, a trip the gym— and quality time with a supportive fitness community— is as easy as logging on to Facebook or Zoom. 

Many gyms have used Zoom to run virtual classes (Photo credit: Fit Body Bootcamp Zionsville/West Carmel)

According to Wachtel’s colleague, Regional Fitness Coach Scotty Banks, Orangetheory does at least one live workout on Zoom each week.

“[It] is really cool because as a coach I can see the screen, I can see how hard you’re working… It’s almost like we’re right there,” he explained. “It’s the best that we can do at this moment.”

Then, on the other 6 days of the week, they do Facebook live workouts on their member Facebook Group, where attendees can join in on the workout live or— since the video is saved and posted— go back later and do the workout when their schedule permits.

Photo credit: Kaity Wachtel, Orangetheory Fitness

Even non-members can try out the workouts for free because Orangetheory uploads their at-home fitness videos onto their YouTube channel.

One major difference for Orangetheory and many other fitness studios lately: the absence of equipment.

“In studio, our members have access to treadmills rowers, and a weight floor station that comes with a bench, a TRX strap, a BOSU, an Ab dolley, mini band, weights ranging from 5-80 pounds and more,” explained Wachtel. “Being confined to the 4 walls of our homes, not every member might have access to that type of equipment.”

Photo credit: Orangetheory Fitness

These days, you’ve got to get creative.

“Maybe it’s squatting a 50 pound bag of dog food or 2 containers of detergent for your lunges or grabbing 2 bottles of wine for lateral raises,” she suggested.

For those at Fitness In Motion Indy— it can be as simple as a chair, your bodyweight and some cardio dance moves led by owner Rachel Pergl via video lessons.

Photo Credit: Rachel Pergl, Fitness In Motion Indy

Or if you’re just looking to get centered, grab a yoga mat and check out Invoke Studio’s new online studio

Invoke moved quickly to utilize Zoom and create an easy, convenient online studio featuring all of their classes ranging from beginner to intermediate/advanced, with varieties ranging from Vinyasa, CoreHIIT, Mat Pilates and Yin all from from the comfort of one’s home. Attendees can use their existing packages or choose from a single $10 drop-in Zoom class or a 30-day unlimited access for $39 (for new students).

Photo credit: Jillian McAfee, Invoke Studio

No matter what type of workout you’re looking for, local fitness studios have made major adjustments to bring fitness to you— virtually.

For Josh and Stephanie Commons, Co-Owners of Fit Body Bootcamp, the transition was a bit easier because they’d already been doing virtual training for several years. But they took this opportunity to join forces with other studios across the nation and internationally to offer an even wider range of classes and times.

“From 5:30am until 10-10:30pm almost every day of the week… Our members are able to choose a class time and a different type of class that works for them and still get their workout in virtually with other professionals in our industry,” said Stephanie.

Fit Body Bootcamp before social distancing (Photo credit: Fit Body Bootcamp Zionsville/West Carmel Facebook page)

According to Josh Commons, since going virtual, they’ve essentially tripled their class availability.

“We have literally like 5 options per half hour to pick and choose from for people in Australia, Europe or Canada,” he said. “It’s really cool to have a network of us small owners pulling together and trying to get through this.”

One major adjustment for everyone— in and out of the fitness community— has been a major disruption in people’s daily routine. But coaches like Commons are working with their students to hone in on finding their new daily rhythm or routine to establish a bit of normalcy to a very abnormal situation.

“One of the things I’ve been trying to help coach people through is simple as when you normally had a commute when you went in to work, why not walk during that time to start your day and walk during that time at the end of your day?” said Josh. “So you still kind of create that kind of commute rhythm and it helps with the flow [of your day].”

And while social media might be full of jokes and memes about gaining the “Quarantine 15”, every trainer we talked to said they had just as high attendance rates—if not higher— for these new virtual workouts. 

Many gyms have used Zoom to run virtual classes (Photo credit: Fit Body Bootcamp Zionsville/West Carmel)

“Josh actually did a post yesterday on Facebook asking, ‘What have your habits been over the last few weeks?” recalled Stephanie. “And the majority of people are saying they’re working out more than they ever have, which is amazing!” 

Scotty Banks echoed a similar observation at Orangetheory, noting, “We’re seeing about 230-250 views every single day.,,, if we were to be an open studio right now, it’s about the same number of people that we would have on a daily rate.”

Another thing all the fitness pros we spoke to agree upon was no matter what workout you choose…more than anything, it comes down to self care.

“You don’t have to tune in to one of our workouts, you don’t have to do a 30-minute HIIT training or longer,” said Josh Commons. “Just do something. Add in a walk, do 5 minutes active. Do something for yourself and it’s amazing what that self care will empower you for.”

Joshua Commons leading a virtual workout at Fit Body Bootcamp

But it all starts with taking that first step.

“Everybody that is part of our community is extremely positive and they have been at that starting point where maybe somebody at home right now is; they just aren’t sure how to get started or it’s a little scary to get started,” Stephanie noted. “[But] know that the hundreds of people that are in our community right now, all they want to do is pour love and energy into you.”

Four Things You Need to Know About Local Fitness Studios, Gone Virtual:

  • Area gyms and fitness studios had to act fast when social distancing mandates forced them to close their doors. Fortunately, so many local gyms were able to transition to virtual lessons by harnessing platforms like Zoom, Facebook live, online studio portals and more. Many of the gym owners have been able to actually partner with other studio owners to offer an even wider range of classes, available times and increased versatility in virtual class offerings to make fitness more accessible to people, wherever they are. 
  • One of the biggest adjustments for people— both in and outside of the fitness community— was a dramatic change to the daily routine. And while some might wonder whether people can be as motivated for virtual classes, all of the studio owners and coaches said attendance has been just as strong— if not stronger— now that they are on a virtual platform. “We’re seeing about 230-250 views every single day.,,, if we were to be an open studio right now, it’s about the same number of people that we would have on a daily rate,” said Orangetheory Fitness Regional Trainer, Scotty Banks.
  • While it might be easy to simply download a workout plan or video from a celebrity trainer, the aspect of community that these local fitness studios promote through virtual workouts on Zoom and member portals is truly unique in their ability to create a supportive network of people. Some studios, like Invoke, have taken things beyond the workout by connecting people through their online book club meetings. And coaches like Josh Commons of Fit Body Bootcamp are helping guide members in various other aspects of life outside the actual workout, like accountability coaching, helping reformulate a healthy daily routine and nutrition coaching. 
  • Many of these studios have made it easy to try out their workouts for free to see if it’s the right fit for you. For instance, Orangetheory puts all of their at-home workouts on Youtube. Fit Body Bootcamp is giving free 21-day access to anyone who wants to check them out. Invoke offers a $10 single class drop-in rate or 30-day unlimited package for $39 specifically for new members. And so many other local studios are offering special deals or free access to to help get people connected to a fitness plan while social distancing. The fitness pros just suggest to do your research and find something you enjoy and try to incorporate it into your lifestyle.

To learn more about some of the fitness studios mentioned in the story and to learn more about their virtual fitness programs, check out the following links to get connected:

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