You use it for uni, to find out the rugby score and even to do your shopping. So it makes sense the web could help you get fit.
Shannan Ponton, personal trainer for The Biggest Loser, told The Newsroom that when it comes to getting fit, “We have never been so spoiled for choice. There’s 24 hour gyms like Anytime Fitness, [and classes such as ] cross fit, boxing, mixed martial arts, dancing, hip hop, pole dancing, boot camp, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, as well as running clubs, triathlons.
“There’s something for everyone.”
But he leaves off one major and relatively new player in the fitness game: the internet. Millions of people worldwide are turning to the web to help them reach their fitness goals. A 37-minute fitness workout video posted on YouTube in 2013, Fat Burning Cardio Workout, has been viewed over 23 million times.
It’s a similar story on social media where hashtags such as #Fitspo trend regularly. There are 28 million posts dedicated to it on Instagram. Fitspo (short for fit inspiration) is hugely visual: it promotes toned, taut, fit bodies in stylish workout gear. And a tan and a six-pack, obviously. It’s perhaps no surprise its Facebook page has 9,553 fans.
The popularity of online fitness is understandable. It doesn’t require the cost of gym membership, it is convenient to do in your own home and fits in with your own hours.
Shannan adds, “Exercising at home is definitely a good place to start for people who are too self-conscious to go to a mainstream gym. Unfortunately there is still a lot of unwarranted stigma attached to health clubs and gyms. It’s the age-old conundrum “got to go to the gym to get fit, got to be fit to go to the gym”.
While it might not seem like there is a dark side to this trend, it does have its drawbacks.
“Training online has its own inherent risks,” says Shannan. “There is no way of ensuring correct, safe and efficient technique is maintained. This is particularly important for beginners, who unfortunately make up the highest percentage of this sub group.”
Alex Fergus, a health coach, blogger and personal trainer in Potts Point, Sydney, agrees. “Having a trainer with you in person can not only help demonstrate the correct movement and suit it to the client and the environment, but also the trainer can offer advice and suggestions as the client is performing the exercise. This is hard to do online, unless you have setup a live video recording, but even then there are limitations,” he told The Newsroom.
Shannan also points out that motivation can be difficult with online programs. “It’s also very easy to skip, alter and reduce your scheduled workout when you’re doing it by yourself. If you’re in a group environment and everyone around you is pushing through the hard sections, it’s much harder just to stop,” he adds.
One person however, who wholeheartedly believes in the Internet being a great tool for fitness and who has capitalised on this trend is 26-year-old Zach Deane Roesler, from the Northern Beaches.
“I struggled with my weight and was a chubby kid growing up, lots of family stresses and as a result found myself hiding away from reality by eating lots of food and playing computer games 16 hours a day,” Zach told The Newsroom.
Before all this Zach was a child struggling with obesity. He fell into the trap of sitting at home, eating fatty foods and playing video games.
“I was very lost and didn’t know how to get out. Luckily I had a family friend who believed in me, he told me about personal development books, seminars, how to eat right and train properly.”
From this, Zach, now a nutrition and wellness coach, created a YouTube nutrition and wellness program called Raw Cave with his high school friend David Turnbull.
Zach told The Newsroom that the project started by accident: “David and I were brainstorming ideas for short films and web-series at my house. After about an hour of thinking of ideas, I decided to have a break and go make a green smoothie. Little did I know David started filming this process. Afterwards, he edited it and put it up on Youtube.”
He now has 7,000 YouTube subscribers, with most videos having over 10,000 views.
Zach does it simply to help people get healthy and does it as a hobby, with his acting career to support him.
“We have over 100 videos on health and wellness,” he says. “It’s been a wild journey and it’s something I truly love, my passion project and my baby.”
Maybe Zach’s just being sentimental – the Raw Cave is no longer a baby; it’s well on its way to adulthood. – Jesse Mullens
If you fancy starting off gently, here’s a video of Zach making his famous green smoothie. Bon appetit!
A month ago he posted the first in a series of YouTube videos explaining how he turned his life around:
In case you’re feeling brave, here’s a video by Shannan, from 2012, showing how to do a “Malcolm” exercise:
Top photo courtesy of Zach Deane Roesler.