It turns out that U of T is offering virtual fitness classes amid the state of the pandemic. It also turns out that they’ve been offering this for a while and I just didn’t know about it. When I talked to some other people it also turned out that they had no idea about them either!
So, I wanted to give them a try. I found out that if you are a U of T student that’s registered for the 2020-2021 academic year then you can have access to their Virtual Fitness Studio at no additional cost! I can now tell myself there’s “no excuse” right?
Each week they email a new schedule with a new zoom link for that week. I decided to take Flexibility Fusion and Cardio Dance Party to get a feel of how different types of classes translated on the online platform. Flexibility Fusion incorporates a mix of yoga and mindful stretching whereas Cardio Dance Party is more Zumba-like but the dance moves are a bit more challenging to keep up with, yet doable nevertheless.
So, what happened? Would I go back? Did I hate every minute of these classes? Does the online format do the classes justice?
Well, first off, during Flexibility Fusion on Wednesday, my internet had cut off…which is never fun – I could’ve found my Zen or something if it weren’t for that inconvenience. But that’s a setback that’s inevitable when doing anything online. I also noticed my limbs hitting every surface around me because I clearly underestimated the amount of space I needed.
Aside from those minor setbacks, I had enjoyed this class a lot. I personally have taken Flexibility Fusion in Hart House when it was open and I think the instruction and dynamic of the class translated well to a virtual space. It had that same unwinding effect I experienced when I used to go into Hart House.
As for Cardio Dance Party, I had never done it in person but I had a lot of fun doing it over Zoom. I used to be part of a recreational dance team and this class exceeded my expectations for dance. I was sweating and working as hard as I did back in rehearsal days!
In terms of whether these classes hold well online or not, I think this has a lot to do with mindset. At the end of the day, most things done online are just not the same as they would be in an in-person environment. That’s something that I kept in mind when trying these virtual fitness classes, I avoided the question of “Is this better or worse?”. I know these classes are meant to accommodate the current situation, not replace the old programs. The instructors do everything they can to reach their audience from utilizing the Zoom chat, providing their emails for questions, checking in with us throughout the session, and continuing to be accessible with modifications for those with injuries or physical conditions.
For what it’s worth, I think U of T’s virtual fitness classes are worth a shot. They bridge the gap between those who don’t have access to a gym and those who work from home who want to continue getting some physical activity during this time.