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Judy Murray: I love the fun and social side of the gym but online classes give the same benefits

© OMER MESSINGER/EPA-EFE/ShutterstBallet star Iana Salenko, with son William, works out at home in Berlin, Germany.
Ballet star Iana Salenko, with son William, works out at home in Berlin, Germany.

The first few weeks of January usually see fridges and cupboards emptied of anything naughty and gyms filled with Lycra-clad bodies, as we all attempt to get stuck into the “new year, new me” mantra.

This year our new exercise routines will look a little different, as the second national lockdown has meant gyms will remain closed until at least the end of the month – but I doubt that will stop us from reaching our goals.

In the past 10 months, we have learned how to adapt to a “new normal” for every aspect of life, including how we exercise. We’ve logged into YouTube to do PE classes with Joe Wicks, laced up our trainers to run in the local park, and even joined virtual yoga classes – all those calories burned and not a treadmill or step machine in sight.

I must admit that when I go to the gym it’s not just for the latest equipment and machines – I love the social aspect of the classes, which bring people together. But, during lockdown, I found I could still enjoy the same interactive benefits with online classes thanks to Zoom and other video-calling technologies. What’s more, I could try out a variety of new activities I might not otherwise have accessed at my local leisure centre.

One of the virtual workouts I’ve enjoyed most is former Strictly professional Ian Waite’s weekly videos, aptly named Waite’s Wednesday Warm Up, as well as the Fit Steps classes he does live on Facebook and Instagram twice a week. Dance is my favourite way to get moving and with these virtual sessions you can dance like nobody’s watching because, well, nobody is. Music always makes things more fun and doing your own thing in your own space and at your own pace is hugely appealing right now. You might be on your tod but you still feel part of a group.

There are so many benefits to our new way of working out, especially for people who would otherwise be time-poor in the “normal” world. If I was a young mum or dad trying to home-school the kids, send emails, cook dinner and clean the house, heading out to an hour-long class at the gym would probably be quite far down my list of priorities. But an abundance of short online workouts means anything is possible. Plus, you don’t need to buy all the fancy kit to look the part in front of other gym bodies – you can wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. I’m fessing up to wearing old pyjama bottoms and my Hibs top.

It’s not just online workouts that have gotten people moving recently. Many of us have discovered the joy of cycling, running and walking outdoors, using wearable fitness tech to set new challenges, too.

For me, all the new ways of working out will never fully replace in-person classes, but the shift to online has proven to us we can find new ways to fit exercise into our weekly routine. And, going forward, I’m sure gym bosses will be busy trying to figure out how they can tempt us back or be a part of our new normal. Ready, set, go!