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Online fitness - Your living room is officially fit for working out!

Very few people can afford to invite a top-notch trainer into their home for a workout session, right?

Well, not necessarily. Happily, many of us are now being gifted the opportunity thanks to new live-streaming classes and online tutorials - from high intensity, resistance training, ballet-based, pilates to yoga. They’re all there.

Sure, the exercise DVDs of old got people off their sofas and away from the snack cupboards but this year, at-home fitness is enjoying a whole new revolution. From Hollywood trainers to homegrown UK studios, some of the world’s best fitness professionals are blasting into our homes and making fitness a priority.

“The home exercise market is developing rapidly, largely because of technological developments, and people are embracing online streaming and tutorials because they’re instantly accessible,” said David Stalker, the CEO of ukactive, a not-for-profit body that works with organisations to get the UK moving more.

“Time, travel and fear of judgment are often cited as barriers to exercise but working out at home can address all of these,” Stalker continued.

According to personal trainer Katie Brighton Jones with Fitness Troop in Cheltenham, online classes are now key because we’re becoming increasingly demanding about personal fitness.

“The fitness industry is highly competitive and with trends changing all the time, creating and filming a DVD can be too long a process. While 1-2-1 PT sessions will always be necessary for those seeking proper guidance and motivation, the majority of us love to have our fitness virtually at the end of our fingertips,” said Brighton Jones.

Some say social media is also partly responsible for this online behavioural shift. Health conscious individuals are now much more inclined to invest in their own exercise goals because so many people now share workouts and before and after body snaps online. Therefore, many of us want the best result-driven regimes available, whenever and wherever it suits us.

According to the 2014 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report, the sector is now worth an estimated £4.08 billion and demand is growing. If you consider that Mintel, a global market research firm, predicts that the UK video streaming market will break through the £1 billion barrier in 2019, the online fitness arena appears like a seriously lucrative place to be.

There is no solid research yet about whether streaming classes appeal more to women or men, although experts suggest it may be a trend for the young as older exercisers still prefer a more traditional at home experience. "The DVD audience is a little older. They want the physical DVD,” told well-known American fitness instructor Jessica Smith to Reuters earlier this year. "The bulk of our YouTube audience is younger."

Switching to online classes isn’t just about controlling your own workout schedule, it can be good for your budget too. Some monthly subscriptions cost less than a single studio class.

Unsurprisingly, America is leading the way in online fitness. The wellness industry is not only worth over $22 billion across the pond, but they’re also responsible for having introduced us to spin cycle classes, cold-pressed juice bars and spiralising – all of which we love.

U.S. streaming fitness companies such as DailyBurn and EMG Live Fitness are now building on their success after launching in the last couple of years one of the biggest innovations so far - the Peloton cycle.

It’s an indoor exercise bike that you set up at home which includes a 22-inch touch tablet to join live and on-demand spin classes with top New York City instructors. It’s pretty expensive at $2,000 but big cycle fans claim it’s worth every penny.

The UK isn’t too far behind though, whether it’s access to some international greats or London trainers dipping their toes into the market.

 Here are our four favourite online fitness websites: 

  1. Tracy Anderson Method live stream –

 Game-changing American trainer Tracy Anderson has taken her $110 million empire one step further this year by launching a real-time video streaming platform. 

Anyone who wants a taste of Tracy’s sweat-fest sessions can log in every Wednesday and join a studio class led by Ms. Anderson herself. The one hour workout is then accessible online before being updated with a new video the next week. If it’s good enough for Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Richie… 

  1. Instructor Live – UK 

These London-based guys were actually ahead of the curve, launching in 2013 after being inspired by a U.S. yoga offering. And business is now booming more than ever. 

Instructor Live mixes time-specific personalised exercise programmes with on-demand workout classes, making it a great choice for people who like to vary their sweat sessions. 

“We add new workouts every day and have over 1,000 on-demand, just waiting to be unlocked, so it’s impossible for users to get bored,” explained co-founder Luke Walker. 

  1. Barrecore online – UK 

Want long, lean legs, a pert bottom and chiseled waist? Then a ballet-based workout is for you. Thanks to Barrecore founder Niki Rein and her online subscription service, you don’t have to hotfoot it to one of her London studios to get in on the muscle-burning fun. 

“The online classes originally started when we had to close the Chelsea studio for a month and wanted to stay connected to clients, so we filmed a series of videos to stream online,” explained Niki. 

“Our regular clients loved accessing barre workouts while on holiday and work trips,” she said. “Now we can bring Barrecore to those who don’t live near a studio.” 

The classes range from 25 minutes to a full 60 and you can choose routines to work the whole body or focus on specific area. 

“The fact that you don’t need much equipment for Barrecore is key in delivering an at-home option,” added Niki. 

  1. SBC Experience – UK 

A supermodel favourite, the Skinny Bitch Collective is officially online. 

Created by trainer Russell Bateman and famed for animalistic exercise moves performed at a killer intensity, slots in his exclusive female-only classes have become so popular that he launched the online ‘Experience’ earlier this year. 

“Our idea was to completely curate a year’s worth of content based around our unique methodology,” explained Russell. 

The result is a platform where the at home user can gain access to workout videos, exercise plans and nutrition guides. 

By Victoria Joy

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