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MASTER CLASS: Virtual fitness era brings a chance to try new workouts

by Matt Parrott | March 1, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
Josh Holt, fitness director at Little Rock Racquet Club, does the Rocking Triceps Pushup for Matt Parrott's Master Class. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

Before 2020, I did my workouts largely in fitness centers and in person. But last year was anything but traditional. It caused me to expand my options to include virtual training, family activities and more.

This week, I'll share what I learned about how to leverage virtual fitness for maximum benefit. Plus, I will introduce a pushup technique that I learned in one of my virtual yoga sessions.

Last summer, I was involved in the development of a virtual fitness mobile application designed to give users the same experience as an in-person fitness-center visit. In this app, we learn about each individual user through a survey and assign them workouts, education and a virtual fitness coach who helps to guide their fitness journey. Working on this project has been very rewarding, and the app is scheduled to go live in just a few weeks.

During the development period, I gave a lot of thought to what members value about their fitness centers. Do they join simply for access to commercial equipment, or is it more about the programs and classes? The more I thought about it, the more I saw that people join fitness centers for a variety of reasons (convenience, price, cleanliness, etc.). But they choose to remain members because they feel "at home." They have formed relationships with the staff and other members. Those relationships lead to loyalty to the center and to users' sticking with their programs.

Virtual fitness programs are at their best when they create a sense of community. Recognizing that was the "ah-ha" moment we needed for our virtual fitness app.

We set it up so users can join challenges with one another and chat about their progress (if they choose) while they interact with their coach through live video calls or instant messages. Relationship-building is a cool aspect of the experience that, I believe, will really help the populations the app will serve (corporate employees).

I find that I am motivated by the social aspect of my fitness experiences. That's why I recruited friends to join livestream classes with me.

Friends provide a level of accountability that helps to motivate everyone involved. As a result, I have attended all sorts of classes that I never would have tried on my own. They range from Zumba (dance fitness) to yoga, and everything in between. It has been a fun experiment, one that gave me experiences and connections I would not otherwise have gained.

One afternoon, a friend and I attended a virtual hatha yoga class that really challenged me. I learned techniques and poses that I had not attempted before. I also became familiar with variations of traditional exercises. This week's movement is one of the variations I learned, and I love it.

The Rocking Triceps Pushup forces the muscles of the core to engage in a different way.

1. Get into the "up" phase of a pushup on the floor.

2. Place both forearms on the floor instead of your hands.

3. Slowly "rock" yourself forward a few inches.

4. Quickly rock back and press on your hands to extend the elbows.

5. This triceps pushup will be challenging for many, so use the rocking motion to your advantage.

6. Do two sets of 12 repetitions.

For those new to yoga, I'd recommend starting in a kneeling position. This adjustment will reduce the overall difficulty and allow you to build confidence.

Although I would not consider myself a "yogi" quite yet, I am happy to have stumbled upon some new forms of exercise through virtual fitness. Give it a shot!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

vballtop@aol.com

Print Headline: Virtual fitness era is great opportunity to explore

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