A little over a year ago, when pretty much everyone was locked into their homes, one of our managers suggested to take up online workout sessions, supervised by a personal trainer.
About 15 of us fancied the idea. We contacted a personal trainer who asked us to fill in an evaluation form (possible health concerns, equipment available, goals, and so on) and we started working out online, though MS Teams.
But before we dive into the lessons learnt, let’s talk about some details.
Table of Contents
- My Relationship with Sport
- What I’ve Learnt in 6 Months of Working Out with a Personal Trainer
- About Motivation and Willpower
- For the Curious Ones
My Relationship with Sport
I think it’s vital to mention that I’m annoyingly thin. And I don’t do anything special about it. It’s just a very good genetic trait I inherited from my Mum and her Father, who manage to naturally stay thin without any restrictive diet and very little movement.
So obviously I never found motivation nor inspiration in working out for the sake of loosing weight. On the contrary – I kind of avoided it because I was scared I would loose the weight I struggled to put on.
But I quietly fancied the idea of working out mostly for the sake of the health benefits I kept reading on and on.
I tried a couple of times to attend fitness classes, but my workout mates told me I was too thin and I didn’t “need” any workout because I was alreay very thin.
So all my motivation to attend conventional workout sessions was shattered quickly. I know – it’s a childish reason, but I was 18 or 19 at that time.
Later I started to train by myself, with the help of mobile apps (thank God there are too many of them out there!). But after a few very productive weeks, my knees started hurting to the point where I was unable to bend my knees without feeling pain.
That led to 3-4 week of rest, which brought my previous progress back to square one.
I was again working out for about 6 weeks, followed by 3 weeks of recovery, which let me to nothing.
So I was kind of disappointed and frustrated that I found myself unable to stick to a workout routine without any pain.
What I’ve Learnt in 6 Months of Working Out with a Personal Trainer
Me and my co-workers joined the online workout sessions twice each week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) for a little over 6 months – probably 7 to 8 months.
We suspended the classes during summer, since people were going back to the gym or on vacations. But here’s what I’ve learnt so far:
How to Breathe Properly
You probably think that breathing properly is one of those default settings we were born with.
Not the case.
If you don’t breathe properly during physical effort… well, there’s a chance you’ll faint at a certain point, and your performance will be week.
I’m obviously unable to explain the anatomy behind this – I think it has to do with getting more oxygen into your bloodstream, which will take it to your muscles to fire them up.
The bottom line is that breathing properly will help you go through the exercises easily, preventing excessive tiredness.
Simply put: exhale when you tense your muscles (like when going up for a crunch) and inhale when you relax your muscles (going back on your back, when doing crunches).
It might feel like another extra thing to pay attention to, when working out, but it will get more and more natural as you practice.
How Important It’s to Have Someone Supervising You
I already told you about my “week knees” situation. After a few sessions of squats or lunges by knees were refusing to cooperate.
I told our trainer about my concern and she payed extra attention by guiding me through the knee exercises.
Apparently my knees were just fine. I kept screwing them up by executing the wrong posture for certain exercises.
Our workouts always had a thorough warm up and more-than-needed cool down, which helped preventing injuries for sure.
But having a professional supervising and correcting my posture and execution was something I had no idea I needed.
I don’t think I suffered any injuries so far. Except that one time when I decided it would be nice to workout with the AC on, which let to a two-week back injury. But that has nothing to do with the workouts themselves.
Not Every Type of Movement/Workout Is Ideal for Everyone
I was always pretty strong on hating cardio – I never enjoyed excessive sweating, shortness of breath and hearing my heartbeat going wild.
Yoga is still torture for me – although I thought I was pretty flexible.
It’s quite a journey to discover what you enjoy in terms of working out. Working out is not very comfortable, so I think it’s important to do the exercises you enjoy.
It’s Alright to Not Love Every Single Minute of It
As I previously said – working out is not very comfortable.
I think it’s healthy to admit that not every single type of exercise is ideal for you. Some love yoga, while other might simply hate it.
Not every type of workout will be ok for you and that’s ALRIGHT.
That’s why there are lots and lots of exercises (pilates, yoga, fitness, weight lifting, cardio, etc.) out there – to accommodate everyone’s needs and to help us incorporate as much movement as possible without too much discomfort.
Community Can Keep You Accountable
I have to admit that at the beginning there was little to no motivation to go to our online workout classes. They were paid by the company, so there was zero financial accountability involved either.
But I said I would like to participate, and after that initial boost of motivation faded after 3 or 4 sessions, I felt bad to skip classes. I knew my co-workers were expecting me to show up and if I wasn’t, they would record the session.
So my motivation (after the initial excitement died) was shame.
None of my colleagues shamed me for skipping certain classes, it was just self induced. But it helped me become consistent with my workouts.
How Important the Winning Combination Is
So, I did not fancy the idea of ever going to the gym again.
I also needed (without being aware of it) someone to guide me through an efficient workout session and keep me accountable.
The combination of working out online, with my colleagues and supervised by a dedicated professional trainer, turned out to be the exact thing I needed!
This idea kind of circles back to the idea that not each type of exercise must be adored by everybody. While some enjoy the crowded gyms, I prefer the socially distant community, from the comfort of my livingroom.
How Much it Influences the Mental Health
This was a true surprise for me.
I mean, I’ve constantly heard or read about the “mental health benefits of working out”. But I thought it’s like the invisible, long-term benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. So not something you truly notice.
But when 1-2 weeks passed without a workout – I felt like shit. I had 0 motivation to do anything. Until I finished my first workout: life was beautiful again afterwards.
It was a very unexpected benefit, and it’s probably one of the main reasons I won’t quit this any time soon.
About Motivation and Willpower
I think this is one of the most debated and click bating topics ever: how do you keep the motivation and willpower to workout constantly?!
My motivation is a little stretched. I workout because I want to stay fit and healthy. And I hope that I’ll be able to move by myself during old age.
I always dreamed of becoming a person that takes care of herself: has a skincare routine, works out regularly, has a balanced diet, etc.
So my motivation is not very specific.
That’s why I don’t believe in working out for the sake of loosing weight. Because people put themselves through unexplainable amounts of pain and discomfort for a few months – until they reach their weight goal, and then they give it up. That’s not efficient – moving our bodies should be a constant habit.
So here are some of the thoughts that keep me going:
- I workout for myself and for my long-term health
- I do the exercises I truly enjoy, not those who bring pain and excruciating discomfort
- I workout for my mental health, because I saw how impactful it is for me
- I don’t workout for loosing weight
- I truly feel good when I workout on the exercises I enjoy
For the Curious Ones
I’m a nosey person. I always want to know more details than provided.
And since a couple of people were more focused on which workout clothes I have, instead of more relevant details, I’m leaving those here too.
We started the workout session presuming we had very little to no equipment. So the first session were done with rolled towels, water bottles and broom sticks.
As we grew more committed to the whole online workouts thing, we added some specific equipment too.
I’ll leave below a list with all the equipment I own (clothes included 🙄) and how useful everything turned out to be to me:
- 2 x 1 kg weights
- 1 x 15 kg resistance band (although it’s still difficult for me to use it. I think it’s brilliant for travelling though)
- 1 x 25 kg resistance band (never used it)
- 3 x bum resistance bands (rarely used)
- a pilates workout mat that is thick enough to protect my knees and spine, and has shoes protection included
*feel free to use whatever type of equipment you want/was recommended to you by your trainer of physician
As for the clothing department:
- winter equipment: long leggins + long sleeved, cropped top (cropped tops are brilliant if you don’t like sweating on your back/abdomen)
- summer equipment: shorts + sports bra (breezy but high support)
- gloves (definitely not mandatory, but I easily get sweaty palms and I slip on the mat, so I need them)
- shoes – not mandatory if you workout indoors and you got though the phase of crushing your toes
I’ve learnt that as long as there’s desire – things will work out. I use my reflexion in the TV screen as a mirror, to check out my posture – no full length mirror needed.
Sure – some cute workout clothes and a fancy water bottle might boost your motivation to workout for a couple of weeks, but this is not the type of motivation you want.
If you can afford to splurge on workout clothes and equipment – go ahead. But check if that’s the only thing that keeps you going and try to find a healthier motivation instead.
Type of Exercise
I can’t tell you the difference between pilates, fitness, cardio and other type of exercises.
So I asked our trainer what we did – because it was a combination between cardio, pilates, yoga and weight exercises.
Apparently what we did is called functional trainings. Through the eyes of someone who has no idea what that is – I can tell you they are moderate-intensity, varied exercises. As I already mentioned, we did a little bit of everything, targeting the upper, lower body and core.
I did not take up functional trainings to loose weight. On the contrary – I was secretly hoping it will help me gain some extra weight.
That did not happen. Obviously.
The 2-3 kilos of fat I had, vanished and unfortunately they did not come back in the form of muscle gain or anything else. I did not change my diet – it actually got a little more unbalanced, compared to my pre-pandemic diet.
And of course, the expected progress of gaining more muscle, more strength and flexibility, a shy six-pack and good spirits.
Am I Still Doing it?
I still use my TV reflexion to correct my posture. We have a good chunk of our trainings recorded, so I still use them with great pleasure.
After over a year of working out regularly on exercises that you enjoy, it’s kind of difficult to ditch it. Not after all the progress you’ve done and all the benefits you noticed.
I’ll have no shame in saying it loud and proud that I absolutely love how my body looks now. I did not had a problem with it before either, and I feared my stick of a hands will look horrible with some muscle on. Not. The. Case.
Being fit looks and feels really good.
I hope I managed to answer some questions about how it’s like to do online workouts with a personal trainer and what you can learn out of it.