HARVARD HERO MOMENT #31: The home workout revival

Amy McRitchie

07 May 2020

As a 90s kid, one of my earliest memories was prancing around the living room watching GMTV with a lycra-clad Mr. Motivator taking the nation through our paces. Fast-forward 30 years and I’m still star-jumping around my living room – just minus the garish floral curtains and Jurassic Park tee (the cycling shorts have somehow made a return). That’s right, long before they became a lockdown-enforced Instagram staple, home workouts were definitely my jam. I’ve dabbled and tested many a celebrity-endorsed fitness DVD, app, tracker and gizmo. I’m somewhat of a connoisseur and I’ll happily debate the benefits of Davina McCall over Joe Wicks. While the exercises have remained fairly samey through the years (though I’m baffled by the inordinate amount of ways to work your “core”) the technology surrounding and enhancing the humble home workout has evolved dramatically. At university one of my favourite ways to procrastinate was with Wii Fit. Why write a dissertation when there was virtual tennis, running on the spot and standing on the balance board to be done. Soon after graduation I discovered the world of yoga on YouTube with Yoga with Adrienne. I have her to thank for going on to qualify as yoga teacher, and living my best “Yoga with Adrienne” life teaching Harvardians over Zoom from my living room. But away from the TV screen, we have the realm of apps trackers and gadgets. Unsurprisingly, I have a draw packed with forgotten fitness trackers and monitors – from Fitbit to Jawbone, Garmin watches and Polar heartrate monitors, even one that wasn’t meant to “look” like a fitness tracker but a piece of jewellery… I’ve got them all.Fii On their own, trackers did little to support my home workout experience. But platforms like FiiT have emerged over the last few years and changed that. These combine the convenience of home workouts, professional programming from PTs, technology for tracking goals and progress, with the feel of taking a group class from the comfort of your home. Then add the likes of Peloton to the mix, working out from home has suddenly become quite a serious business. The current lockdown means that more people than ever are trying out home workouts – and the fitness industry is having to quickly embrace new technology to provide full online offerings and schedules. Whether that’s through Instagram Live workouts or Zoom, they’re taking the gym to the people. It’s helping get us moving and socialising (even if it it’s through a screen from our homes). One of the small upsides of lockdown is that more people are sharing my love for home workouts – and technology is having a huge part to play in it. Although I’ll admit, I have ditched my Apple Watch for a less high-tech Casio for now (the guilt from the lack of steps I’m totting up was too much) but I think Mr. Motivator would approve.