Over the last two months, I’ve slowly turned my tiny living room, which already functions as my home office, nap pod, reading station, and selfie studio, into a workout center. I have two sets of weights, a mat, a variety of resistance bands, gym towels, and a Peloton bike (more on this in a bit). I’m not having anyone over, so it’s fine how chaotic my living room looks right now. And five days a week, I take a 35-minute class with my favorite Barry’s instructors — Michael P., Josey, Mike E., and Garret— over Zoom.
The cost, with a $225, 30-class membership, turns out to be $7.50 a class — much cheaper than the $38 per class at Barry’s Chelsea studio. Of course, a 60-minute real-life class in a studio designed for working out with a live instructor is a lot better. There’s no comparison.But again, the specialness of these live, in-studio classes is their detriment. Being around so many people at this time, is exactly what people are afraid of at this moment.Yet, Zoom workouts are still much, much better than working out on my own — I get distracted and check email, Instagram, and whatnot. The instructors do their best to correct form, keep classes engaged, and make playlists. I’m also joined by anywhere from 35 to 80 people in each class, many of whom have cameras on, which makes it feel like we’re all working out together. If someone in the Zoom box next to me is working hard, I feel the immense and competitive peer pressure to also work hard.
The pandemic also forced Sudeikis’s hand in launching Forward Space’s virtual presence and changing its business plan. She explains that they were lucky in a way because the company had a single flagship studio in SoHo as opposed to multiple branches. They had an eye on expansion, but the shutdown orders put that to a halt.Not being on the hook for multiple rents allowed Forward Space to be more nimble, which meant more classes online and leaning into alternate revenue streams like merchandise.“Instead of focusing on new physical locations and markets in 2020, with an active eye on virtual expansion for 2021, we built our Virtual Hub for subscription classes in the span of a few weeks,” Sudeikis said. “We launched our online shop to allow for guests to purchase our limited edition FS merchandise drops. This moment also provided our company an opportunity to fast track our merchandise model and its accessibility to those not in NYC.”
etting one was a very expensive decision, and not one I thought I’d make. I’d been saving up money for a vacation, and the pandemic vaporized those plans. I also came to the realization that I have no idea when New York City and its gyms will open again. And when those fitness studios do open, I don’t know if I’d be comfortable going back right away.This huge unknown swayed me.Peloton’s app, interface, and streaming capabilities are sleek and impressive. Unlike its competitors, Peloton has always been a digital-first program, and its app is evidence of that. The bike is quiet and smooth. Its coaches know how to perform for and are comfortable in front of a camera. But the most impressive thing about it is that it features live classes and an extensive library of workouts of varying lengths on demand.
That said, while I think the leaderboard aspect and camaraderie — you can send virtual high fives — are nifty aspects, it still isn’t the same as working out in a room with other people and your friends. It’s not better or worse, just different.Perhaps nothing, aside from working out in the same room as other people to really loud music, will feel the same as working out in the same room as other people to really loud music.It’s what Gonzalez, who also teaches and trains classes, thinks sets group fitness apart.“Throughout this crisis, people have been cooped up in their homes, in some cases in complete isolation, for a painfully long period of time,” Gonzalez told Vox. “That energy you get from an in-person class can’t be replicated, and I do think that by the time we come back from all this, people will be hungry for that connection.”