I’m lunging through a series of stretches as my PT, Laura Leeson, makes friendly small talk — my Australia holiday, the lovely weather, coronavirus.
Our 30-minute HIIT blast was a rude awakening at 6.30am but it’s worth it now the endorphins are flowing and I’m on the warm-down: she’s corrected my squat form, demonstrated the perfect plank, and set me a pre-half-marathon schedule. At first it felt strange being watched doing sit-ups in my living room, but it made me push harder: normally my at-home app workouts end in me throwing the towel in the minute I hear my housemate coming up the stairs.
Not today: Leeson might be five miles away in Shepherd’s Bush but I can feel her eyes on me through my phone screen. Just because I’m on a video call it doesn’t mean she hasn’t noticed my high knees lowering. She tells me to lift higher and pick up the pace.
Laura and I have never met in person. We met online, like all the best modern relationships, through a brand new home workout app called Base PT. The virtual fitness platform, just launched in London, is a personalised upgrade from at-home workout apps like Nike Training and Sweat with Kayla: Base PT’s exercise videos are tailored to you, the consumer, and smarter still, totally live. Think of it as a PT session over FaceTime for a quarter of the price — sessions cost as little as £9 each (base-pt.com).
“It’s so much more than just following a video,” says Leeson, who founded the app with her partner Scott as a way to bring a live element to the virtual fitness scene. Both are former WBFF (World Beauty Fitness & Fashion) professionals, now PTs, and saw their app as a way to make personal training available to cash-strapped, time-poor Londoners. More than 100 trainers are signed up so far.
The app is well-timed: working (and working out) from home is the topic of the moment as coronavirus threatens to shut offices and gyms. (I’m avoiding the gym in fear of infected treadmills). Solitary confinement is no reason to stop keeping fit and Base PT’s instructors aren’t the only ones going live.
LA fitness app Plankk Studio (plankkstudio.com) now offers thousands of live classes from some of Instagram’s biggest fitness stars — choose the time and class that works for you. Meanwhile, live leaderboard sessions are available on popular “Netflix of fitness” platform Fiit (fiit.tv). Challenge your colleagues to the 5pm yoga class and compete via heart-rate monitor for bragging rights on the company Slack channel.
Real-time living-room workouts have hit the spin sector, too. Dial-in sessions are the USP of David Beckham— endorsed cycling platform Peloton — the app has 14 live classes a day (onepeloton.co.uk); and if you can’t afford the £2,000 bike, Instagram is turning into a (free) fitness platform. YouTube star @sarahs_day is among the trainers offering Instagram Live workouts from her home and Shaun T, creator of the Insanity Workout, gives 10-minute teasers of his famous Transform package using the app’s real-time video feature. Go live and go home.
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