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A woman looking at a workout video on a phone screen while at home.

The pandemic shook up our lifestyles in many ways, from how we interact with people to our methods for staying healthy. When health clubs and gyms closed, an abundance of new virtual workout and wellness options became available. While some people viewed these tools as temporary replacements for their favorite in-person workouts, others now gravitate toward the flexibility of digital offerings.

“With work and school changes over the past year, I have seen more people move to virtual workouts and fitness programming,” says Zack Wilkinson, MS, personal trainer for Life Time in San Antonio, Texas. “With garage-style gyms and not having to travel to go exercise, people are saving time and resources.”

Everyone’s preferences are different, of course: While one may prefer the quiet privacy of an on-demand video workout at home, someone else delights in the accountability and camaraderie of an in-person group fitness class — and both have their perks.

“In-club and virtual training are both beneficial to any workout routine,” Wilkinson says. “I have virtual clients who I also sometimes see in person, and having that blend of interaction types can add value and extra encouragement.”

No matter what you prefer, experts agree that it’s best to maintain a regular exercise routine. We spoke with Wilkinson and two other fitness professionals to get their tips on staying consistent with your workout regimen, whether you’re going into a health club, exercising at home — or both.

Our experts:

  • Zack Wilkinson, personal trainer at Life Time San Antonio 281 in San Antonio, Texas
  • Anna Taylor, personal trainer at Life Time Woodbury in Woodbury, Minn.
  • Tish Cangelosi, personal trainer at Life Time Pickerington in Pickerington, Ohio

If you prefer working out in person . . .

“Exercising with a group or simply among other people can be great for consistency and accountability, especially if you’re working with a personal trainer,” says Taylor. “In-person interaction allows for more structured workouts, customizations, and tips on the fly, such as conversations about nutrition or modifications based on how your body is feeling that day.”

But even if you enjoy in-person interaction while exercising, there are many ways that digital wellness tools can benefit your routine:

If you prefer at-home workouts . . .

Virtual workouts are here to stay — and your options will only continue to grow, from livestreaming and on-demand classes to weekly workout plans for any goal.

“Digital workouts offer a different type of accountability and structure,” says Taylor. “Life Time’s virtual programming allows you to work out at home or in the club, and either way, you know you’re working with top quality fitness professionals.”

“If you prefer working out at home, I encourage you to connect with a trainer or professional,” says Cangelosi. “No matter where you are, this will help you feel more connected as well as increase your understanding of the workouts you’re doing.”

“Exercising on your own can make it harder to stay accountable,” Taylor adds. “If your workout routine happens at home, try to stick with consistent days and times each week. Add this time to your calendar and think of it as a self-care meeting to improve your health.”

While the digital wellness space continues to expand, there are many benefits to going to your local health club and interacting in person:

  • Use weights or machinery you don’t have at home to make sure you’re continuing to make progress on your goals. Explore these equipment-based workouts for ideas.
  • Switch up your regular cardio routine with some laps or low-impact water workouts in the pool.
  • Schedule regular assessments with a fitness professional to evaluate your progress and adjust your plan accordingly.
  • Use recovery amenities you may not have access to such as a sauna, steam room, or whirlpool.
  • Consult with a personal trainer to learn proper form and mechanics before taking your workouts virtual.

If you prefer a hybrid approach . . .

For some people, their workout setting just depends on the day. The season of life you find yourself in may dictate whether you’re able to make it to your favorite workout class or see your trainer in person — or if you’re squeezing in a quick bodyweight workout at home.

“Instead of committing to working out in a specific location, make a commitment to a specific goal,” Taylor advises. “It could be, ‘I want to drop my body-fat percentage,’ or ‘I want to increase lean muscle and be fit for my kids.’ Once you have your goal, decide what works for your schedule and lifestyle. How will you use all the tools available to get to your goals? You can always discuss this with a trainer or fitness professional and they’ll help you build the right plan.”

“My biggest advice when it comes to building a routine is to stay consistent to a structured plan,” she adds. “Routine takes discipline — and the willingness to stick to the goals we set out to do.”

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a copywriter and copy editor at Life Time.

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