I have this memory of clearing out a small corner of my room next to a black and white 10-inch TV so I could follow the moves of two perfectly quaffed female instructors in leg warmers at 7.20 a.m. on a Monday morning. Their stark white studio and slick leotards screamed respect and commitment. The genesis of these programmes was, of course, the prolific assortment of VHS workout tapes created by a double-jointed, leotard-wearing goddess called Jane Fonda. Not sure my devotion to queen Jane amounted to much but it was the beginning of a long journey to fitness based on a preference for never leaving the house.
Avoiding public displays of fitness for me was further reinforced by the mega gym, gym bunny, step aerobics and "I'm Too Sexy" booming from every which way in a big sweaty room full of pumped up men and women. Hours spent hunched on a Stairmaster and slow peddling to little effect on a reclined bike reading Vogue soon got a bit passé.
Lucky for me this was all to change with the advent of the blessed Internet age. Having changed how we communicate (email, Tweet, Skype and Facebook), love (email, Tweet, Skype, Facebook, and online dating) work (email, Tweet, Skype, Facebook and LinkedIn) and even eat (email, Tweet, Skype, Facebook, TopTable, Foodspotting) it was only a matter of time that this World Wide Web kicked it up a notch to get you fit.
While technology has been a pervasive force in fitness, sports and training for sometime, it's the way it has entered into our bedrooms that has gotten a bit more interesting. From late night tweets from your trainer and Pilates studios looking for Facebook 'Likes' to monitoring your every move with a Fitbit-Jawbone-Fuelband device, fitness went hi-tech in at least, say, 2011. But it's been the virtual studios and online training real-time that's made it most interesting to the gymaphobes.
I'm one of the, apparently many, Londoners who have been sucked into virtual workouts hosted by transatlantic instructors primarily located in New York and Los Angeles. According to the Evening Standard (7 August 2013), thousands of Londoners are logging onto classes from across the pond. EMG Live Fitness said that in its first six months a quarter of users were from London.
I became hooked on Ballet Beautiful, Mary Helen Bowers' 'ballet inspired fitness' website. She offers both streamed and live classes. I've amassed a nice collection of workouts such as 'Bridge & Ball' and '15 Minute Ballet Beautiful Body' for about £6 each. Live sessions are a bit more of an investment but allow you to interact with both Mary in her Manhattan studio, as well as, fellow digital fitness soldiers from around the globe.
I've also tried My Yoga Online which hails from Canada and has a thousand high-definition videos to choose from. From yoga, to Pilates and meditation to dance. Frankly just sitting at my desk and watching very serene individuals do their thing on beaches, mountains, in fields, and the like, was enough to take my stress level down. They also have a very reasonable monthly rate for streaming.
Lastly, there is the behemoth, YouTube. If you can get past the sneezing kittens and cute toddlers belting out Elvis tunes, then you'll get to a treasure trove of fitness videos. In fact, I lost track of my writing when I started watching Tracy Anderson videos. Man, she has energy, and if you can see past Gwyneth's self-professed stripper butt, you might find that there is potential for you to get lean from home.
Good enough reason to never leave the house for a workout? Maybe not. But a helluva way to tighten, tone and do it for the price of that Starbucks latte while wearing your jim jams. I'd say a result, right?