Updated: 2020, Jun 13

The Online World of Fitness: Why Your Home Workout Could Be Damaging the Fitness Industry

The coronavirus pandemic has meant a shift to digital for the fitness industry as gyms close and people are forced to exercise at home.

Whilst the world is telling us to take some time out and slow down, technology still holds us in its grip, a useful servant but a dangerous master.

The Online World of Fitness: Why Your Home Workout Could Be Damaging the Fitness Industry
Finding time for fitness is never easy, but home training could provide the answer. (Image via Shutterstock))

As the world enters a global phase of social distancing, we take comfort and remind ourselves how fortunate we are to live in a world where we have the technology to still stay in touch and keep moving forward.

Over the last few weeks, people have moved their businesses online overnight posting new initiatives and online ventures. The fitness industry like most have seen the huge impact of gym and studio closures[1].

Many self-employed fitness professionals have lost their main, and in some instances, the only source of income overnight. The uncertainty has caused a ripple of panic, with the industry reacting in a heartbeat to provide people with online classes through social media platforms and apps now offering hundreds of options to exercise.

This new online exercise trend comes with many benefits in an attempt to keep people moving and stay fit and healthy during this time[2]. But arguably there are also many drawbacks to be considered.

Whilst fitness experts and otherwise are posting endless workouts and live streams every hour, many are offering classes free of charge or at a very reduced rate in what has become an overactive competitive industry in an already saturated market.

As the big brands, gyms chains, celebrities, and influencers dominate the market, the effects on the small businesses, studios, and freelance instructors and trainers are worrying.

As a result, many have resulted in working for free or for a small donation. These free classes have set an unrealistic expectation that fitness professionals should work for nothing diminishing their value.

In what is already a poorly paid industry, they are still investing their time, knowledge, expertise, and experience not to mention navigating through the loopholes of insurance and music licensing which becomes way more convoluted when going online.

This new trend does not only cause concerns for these professionals. From a consumer perspective, there are many issues you should be aware of before embarking on any new online exercise program free or otherwise.

1. The Risk of Injury

The importance of pre-exercise screening and informed consent from individuals is essential. This is to identify those who may have medical conditions or injury which puts them at risk during exercise but is often overlooked in the online fitness world.

There may sometimes be a disclaimer at the start which essentially puts the ownness back on you as the participant, but this often does not then adapt the workout to cater to specific needs.

With many live or pre-recorded workouts currently out there, you should be mindful of the increased risk of injury. Without a qualified instructor closely monitoring technique, managing intensity, and offering suitable modifications, the health and safety of participants can be severely compromised.

Instead, consider one to one sessions and smaller private instructor-led groups over larger group sessions, live streams or pre-recorded workouts to ensure you are being observed and you are exercising safely.

2. Qualified Trainers and Coaches

Ensure that your trainer, coach, or teacher is accredited. Many in a bid to diversify or add strings to their bows have started offering online fitness and potential programs that they are not necessarily qualified in or insured.

It is imperative that your chosen provider is accredited and a good place to check is the REPS (Register of Exercise Professionals) or CIMSPA (The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity).

3. Commitment and results

Exercising in the comfort of your home on your own for an hour sounds great in theory, however, it can be much harder in practice even when watching a live stream or pre-recorded workout.

It is a lot easier to be motivated when you have someone watching you. Exercising with a trainer or coach on a one to one basis will ensure that you stay motivated, are held accountable, and can make progress.

Fitness is not one size fits all. A one to one programme will be tailored to your individual needs and goals to ensure you have something to work towards and you can see results.

A qualified coach can ensure that you are not exercising beyond your means and progressing too soon risking burn out or injury if exercises are not performed properly. This is particularly the case if you are embarking on exercise programmes that you are perhaps new to without the appropriate knowledge of technique and adequate supervision.

Committing one to one coaching also means that for an hour once or twice a week you are more likely to exercise without excuses.


Despite all the pitfalls, there has never been a better time to exercise at home. A dedicated coach or trainer can serve to enhance your training experience and online one to one coaching allows you to train with your preferred coach or trainer irrespective of where they are based with peace of mind.

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Mariella Murray

Mariella Murray is a qualified Fitness Instructor, Level 3 Mat Pilates Specialist, and a trained Alternative Therapist since 2008 that

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