The Right Way to Take an Online Fitness Class

Fitness has gone digital now that South Jersey gyms and studios have shut their doors to visitors – which means you can now try all of those classes you couldn’t get to pre-quarantine.

We talked to Jayne Miller-Morgan, assistant fitness director at the Katz JCC Fitness Center, to get the do’s and don’ts of taking an online fitness class.


First things first: Mute

Your teacher can no longer shut a door and block out the world when an online class begins. Now that’s your job. When you enter a video conference – especially if you’re tip-toeing in late – the first thing you should do is mute your sound, says Miller-Morgan.

This may be a tough adjustment for people who usually ask a question or two in class, but it’s necessary. Your own voice will drown out the instructor’s direction. “I had someone un-mute to tell the teacher how to teach – twice,” she says. “Just don’t do it.”

Beyond muting, Miller-Morgan also recommends turning off pop-up messages during class if you can to get the full effect. Seeing notifications from work or personal messages can be distracting. “Just focus on the class,” she says.


Remember, everyone can see you!

Step two of virtual fitness is to check your camera. One common mistake many students still make is putting their camera too close for comfort.

“Sometimes you don’t even see people’s faces,” she says. “You only see chests.”

You can check how you look on the Zoom group chat and make sure you’re not showing more than you intended to show, says Morgan-Miller. “Once you come in, put the mute on, back up and be ready for class.”


Watch out for that coffee table

For your own safety, give yourself three to four feet of space – at least – in either direction. Nothing kills the flow of a class like hitting your head on a coffee table.

Also eliminate other distractions in your home that could put you off balance – literally. Try your best to keep kids and pets away, especially when doing exercises that require balance or are use weights. And if you have to get creative, like using cans instead of hand weights, make sure they’re leak-proof and easy to grasp.

“If I could make a clip of bloopers, I would show people what not to do,” says Miller-Morgan. “Pets or children interfering in classes are the big ones.”


Can’t keep up? Don’t stress about it

“I had someone who thought they were doing Zumba, but it was really a Zen-flow yoga class,” Miller-Morgan says.

She adds that everything turned out ok, but emphasizes the importance of knowing your limits. Instructors will offer modifications over the video call and ask if there are any new students who may need extra tips, but providing individual help is a serious challenge in virtual classes. If it’s too much, that’s ok, says Miller-Morgan.

“You don’t have to stay there,” she says. “It’s much easier to leave an online class than one in person. Just leave if it’s too much.”

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