By now, “WFH” is probably part of your lexicon, but what about the other WFH? Working out from home is the pandemic-propelled fitness trend that marries social distancing with convenience—and it’s one that isn’t going away any time soon.
As COVID’s second wave drums up our winter dread, finding safe ways to keep active can help both your physical and mental health. And the easier it is to get moving, the more likely you are to stick to it. To help you find your ideal at-home exercise, we’ve rounded up our favourite virtual workouts from fitness studios across Canada.
For strength training, try… All Day Fit
What to expect: If lifting weights intimidates you, this Toronto-born fitness community will change that in a snap. Each workout is broken up into blocks where you’ll move through a few different muscle-building moves at your own pace. You can use dumbbells, a kettlebell or even a resistance band in a pinch, and you’ll get handy tips on how to improve your form throughout (yes, this is a camera-on class). The vibe is friendly and empowering, and no class is complete without a sweaty group selfie.
How to tune in: The live classes are offered over Zoom from Monday to Saturday, but if you miss one, you can get a recording sent your way. Between classes, you can keep in touch with the coaches and other members of the community in a private Facebook group, too.
What it costs: Try your first three classes for free, then pick the membership option that suits you best (you can go unlimited for $149 per month).
What to expect: The Toronto-based studio—which just opened a second location called The Lab by Common Ground—is known for ultra-sweaty workouts that max out your session by combining several muscle groups within a single exercise. Picture lunges with shoulder presses or deadlifts with bent-over rows. Along with heart-pumping classics like mountain climbers and squat jumps, every intense move is done in intervals (with quick breaks in between!) for a burn you’ll definitely feel the next day.
How to tune in: Classes are live streamed via fitness platform Mindbody, which you can access from your browser or the mobile app. Prefer to stick to your own schedule? Sign up for an on-demand membership instead to get access to a library of all past live classes.
What it costs: You can try a live class for free, then opt for an unlimited pass for $60 per month. If you decide to go the on-demand route, there’s a free seven-day trial to get you started before it switches over to $20 US per month.
For pilates, try… R Studios
What to expect: R Studios has three locations in Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and each specializes in a different kind of workout. The beauty of virtual training is that you can cherry-pick from all three, right from your living room. If you’re not sure where to start, opt for Pilates, where the company got its beginnings. The low-impact moves may look easy at first, but you’ll do each one long enough to leave your muscles trembling.
How to tune in: In addition to livestreaming its classes via Zoom, the studio is introducing an on-demand platform this month that will feature videos recorded exclusively for virtual guests.
What it costs: Pay as you go for $8 a day or sign up for an unlimited virtual membership for $29 per month.
What to expect: Stretch and strengthen with ballet-inspired movements like pliés-turned-squats and pointed leg lifts. You can get a quick pump in with 15-minute options or scale up to a 60-minute class that’s similar to the in-person ones traditionally offered at Barre Belle’s locations in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Some classes require a few pieces of equipment (there’s nothing like a squishy ball to fire up the inner thighs), which you can buy from the online shop.
How to tune in: Most classes are on-demand and can be played right from your browser or on the app, which you can get on your iPhone, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast or Fire TV.
What it costs: Get going with a free 14-day trial, then sign up for full access for $25 per month.
What to expect: If you have a spin bike in your home (like many other studios, Ride’s locations in Vancouver and Toronto are renting theirs out during COVID), turn up the volume and shut off the lights and you might forget you’re in your house. The candlelit instructor will cue you to pedal along to the beat of the music for a major leg burn and cardio blast. Don’t forget your hand weights—or soup cans!—for the arms track mid-class.
How to tune in: All classes are pre-recorded so that the audio can be perfectly balanced (you need to hear the music’s beat clearly, after all!) before they’re loaded online in batches every Monday. You’ll need an iPad or laptop in view to play the video from your browser.
What it costs: After a free seven-day trial, you can access as many on-demand classes as you want for $48 per month.
What to expect: Every workout is divided into rounds that combine bicep-burning shadow boxing (no gloves or punching bag required!) with push-ups, crunches, jumps and more. Even if you’ve never boxed at Drop’s Toronto studio before, you can take it up as a pandemic pastime with help from the weekly workshop videos that teach the basics.
How to tune in: Every Monday, five new videos are added to the collection of on-demand classes, which can all be accessed right from your browser.
What it costs: There’s a free seven-day trial to get you started. After that, a membership costs $30 per month.
For low-impact training, try… Tight Club
What to expect: Functional fitness is the name of the game for these Vancouver-based workouts. That means that the exercises are designed to support the way you move in real life, like squatting down to grab something off the floor or carrying heavy grocery bags. But don’t expect it to be a breeze: even the slow and thoughtful movements in the low-impact, stability-focused Body Luv class can leave you surprisingly sweaty.
How to tune in: While the instructor teaches the live class over Zoom, there’s a designated moderator to help troubleshoot any tech issues and note the exercises in the chat in case you forget what the instructor said. Afterwards, you’ll also get a link to the recorded workout that’s active for 72 hours. Come December, keep an eye out for new on-demand options too.
What it costs: For $30, you can try out as many classes as you want for your first week. After that, class packs start at $55 for 10 or you can go unlimited for $100 per month.
What to expect: This Waterloo, Ont. studio is known for its welcoming atmosphere, and it has translated that feeling into its digital space, too. The instructors’ thorough explanations make it easy to follow along, whether you’re an experienced yogi or total newbie, and they always stick around to chat after class if you want to unmute to say hi.
How to tune in: For the best audio, class is streamed over Zoom without any background music. Instead, you can pair it with a Spotify playlist curated by your instructor.
What it costs: Start off with a free virtual class then sign up for either a membership or class pack. Bonus: New students can get their first month of unlimited classes for only $40.