“It was convenience at its best. I could schedule my workout depending on my office routine, and the forms of workout on the app were aplenty. Since it was all guided, I knew exactly how to do a certain exercise,” says Pulkit Chandwani, for whom app-based workout proved to be beneficial in maintaining a work-life balance amid the lockdown. While he did resume cycling once restrictions were lifted, poor air quality forced this Delhi-based businessman to abandon the idea.

At the beginning of the lockdown in March-end, gyms and fitness centres were shut, forcing gym junkies — including a host of celebrities — to take the online route to stay fit. But, soon after restrictions were lifted on movement, fitness enthusiasts slowly resumed outdoor fitness activities. However, this trend was short-lived, for rise in Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi-NCR has forced denizens to stay indoors.

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Certainly, virtual workouts spell convenience, but how effective are they, in real sense? “Exercising at home means protection from pollution as well as Covid-19. You work out using basic equipment instead of hi-tech machines, and you have endless choices. All you need is to get up, join a session and work out. You don’t need any equipment or a lot of space, either,” says Dr Rohini Patil, a nutritionist and fitness expert.

With more and more people taking to virtual workouts, we’ve gone back to the pre-technology era wherein one doesn’t require any fancy equipment to stay fit. Things such as stairs, tables, chairs, etc. have now replaced treadmills and dumbbells, feels Pooja Banga, who specialises in sports nutrition. She adds, “There are 1000s of free workouts available across the internet and that too, according to your level of fitness, and are quite effective.”

A workout with minimum equipment is something that Abhishek Singh Thakur, a fitness trainer who has been conducting online sessions, also believes in. “Your body does not know if you are working out in a gym or at home; it only knows the resistance required. The workout I make my clients do is based on bodyweight exercises and is done using some household items such as a bucket full of water, which can be used to train our bicep, legs, back and shoulders,” he says.

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Another advantage of virtual workouts, experts feel, is the plethora of options one has. Be it zumba, pilates, yoga, aerobics — it’s all available at the touch of a button. Moreover, one could opt for a personal training session vis-à-vis group sessions.

But, if not guided correctly, such workouts can do more harm than good. “One has to be very careful in choosing a trainer. The trainer should make sure your body formations are correct while exercising so that you don’t get any injury,” cautions Manisha Chopra, a nutritionist and fitness expert, adding, “A fitness regime requires a proper trainer who can understand your body, guide you from time to time and make you exercise according to your body type.”

Thakur, too, insists on working out at home under guidance. “I check my clients’ workout techniques and body forms on video call and give instructions all through,” he says, adding, “If any of my client has any injury, I make sure I get thorough information about it, analyse the body segment, ask them about the pain in detail. According to that, I suggest them the exercises they can perform easily through guidance, and also keep a tab on their condition.”

However, Dr Chitra Kataria, senior physiotherapist at a Delhi-based hospital, recommends conventional forms of workout for those with any ailment: “Elderly citizens and those who have conditions like arthritis or pain in cervical spine should opt for physical workout so that instructors are able to understand the pain threshold better.”

Author tweets @srinidhi_gk

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