By Samir Murji

It’s no secret that Canadians have been less active as a result of measures to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. You’re most probably sitting at home right now, not commuting to work or school, not going out socially or even training at a gym. This sedentary lifestyle could not only have a negative impact on your physical fitness but also your mental health.

With fitness studios closed and outdoor recreational activities banned, many people in need of a sweat fix are turning to virtual fitness as a means to stay healthy and fit. Many gyms and trainers are offering live workouts to help keep their members fit. F45 has developed a robust virtual training program complete with multiple live daily workouts streamed through Zoom along with pre-recorded videos so members never have to miss a workout.

The F45 Live sessions are led by coaches who not only explain each exercise but also provide progressions, regressions and form correction. F45 training is focused on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), split between cardio and resistance and has been adapted for a seamless at-home experience with no equipment necessary. F45 has identified its crucial role in keeping its members physically and mentally fit during these uncertain times by pivoting to the virtual space and converting its personal trainers into virtual coaches.

Numerous published studies hail the benefits of exercising regularly on the immune system. In a recent article, Harvard Medical School reports that exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight are natural methods of keeping your immune system strong.[1] It gets better. The virtual HIIT sweat session you just completed may also contribute even more directly to strengthening your immune system by  promoting good circulation.[2] A strong immune system supports your body to defeat invading pathogens and defend you against disease-causing microorganisms. Given current health risks, the importance of engaging in regular exercise has expounded.

F45 Live workouts are specifically designed to provide a full-body functional workout while improving energy levels, metabolic rate, strength, and endurance—all from home. F45 is built on a philosophy of “Innovation, Motivation and Results” meaning that no two workouts are ever the same, a virtual community of members train as a team to motivate one another, and the program is results driven. During isolation, F45 members have been reaping the benefits of the F45 program and can’t stop raving about the life changing impacts they have experienced. Most notably, actor and F45 investor, Mark Wahlberg can’t get enough of F45 Live. In a recent interview with InTouch Weekly, Wahlberg said he plans to “come out of the lockdown in even better shape” by using the F45 Live program.

Since functional training is only a part of the fitness equation, F45 delivers the highest quality nutrition to its members by way of the F45 Challenge Meal Plan. The F45 Challenge portal located at www.f45challenge.com provides daily recipes, nutritional content and a macronutrient calculator. Significant scientific evidence exists that various micronutrient deficiencies alter immune responses which may make us more susceptible to viruses.[3]

The F45 nutritional philosophy centers around providing the body with all nutrients, vitamins and minerals to support optimal performance and overall health. F45 motivates its members to practice good nutrition through its 45 Day Challenge and also makes it easy for its members to stay the course by facilitating prepared meals ordered online and delivered to their doorstep with contactless delivery. This has significantly helped members keep their diets in check while staying home and avoiding line-ups at the grocery store.

All of this is great but it’s not just about packing muscle on your frame so you move up a size in leggings or unleashing your six pack abs in front of the bathroom mirror. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the F45 Live program is the incredibly supportive fit fam you join when becoming a member. As we embark on two months of self-isolation, mental health among Canadians is worsening. According to a report issued by Mental Health Research Canada, anxiety has increased by 20% and self-reported cases of depression have more than doubled from 4% to 10%.[4] A major cause of anxiety and depression is a lack of social interaction. Being connected with a virtual community and feeling supported by others creates a sense of belonging that goes a long way to support mental health.

Exercise also produces endorphins, chemicals in the brain which have shown to stimulate anti-anxiety effects and can work quickly to raise depressed mood in a person. According to some studies, regular exercise may work as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.[5] One vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time.[6] Finnish researchers from the University of Turku have recently suggested that HIIT workouts like F45 Live result in a greater release of endorphins as compared to steady state cardio over the same period of time.[7] With the future uncertain and mental health issues on the rise, virtual home fitness provides a fast and easy outlet to boost your mood and give you the social interaction that you might not get otherwise while social distancing measures are in place.

Virtual fitness is the new fitness, Zoom and Instagram live are the new studios, and the ability to adapt to this new landscape to support the physical, nutritional and mental health of members and clients may determine which gyms come out on the other side of this and how prepared they will be to operate post-quarantine.

About Samir Murji

Samir Murji is an Owner and Coach with F45 Training New Toronto and F45 Training Stockyards and the CEO of F45meals, the Canadian meal prep partner of the F45 meal plan. You can see him in action coaching an F45 Live Class on Saturdays at 10 am. Follow him on Instagram.