You may be too anxious to even think about missing the gym, but your gym misses you. Or at least the money you pay every month to go or...not.
The nationwide covid-19 lockdown has gyms and fitness studios in a bind. Gyms make a large part of their profit from people who pay to be members and never show up. Usually, people are willing to pay because they think they might show up to get their money’s worth. They’re not as willing to pay when the gym is closed. Boutique fitness studios are a little different, because they offer smaller, specialized classes, but those are considered unessential services, too.
Fitness instructors, like you, are bored at home and bouncing off the walls, which is why they’re turning to platforms like Instagram Live to teach the kind of premium workout classes that would normally cost anywhere from $25 to $40. These classes are free, though many instructors take donations.
“The only goal is to connect with our clients and serve them as best we can, given the circumstances,” Sarah Larson Levey, co-founder of NYC-based hip-hop yoga studio chain Y7, told Gizmodo.
Since the lockdown started, Y7 has been working with its instructors to offer two 50-minute yoga sessions a week on Instagram Live. The sessions are free, with any donations from those who watch the streams going directly to the instructors. Levey said she’s seen love and support for the company’s instructors from loyal regulars. But the company, which normally charges $25 for a single class, makes no money from these sessions and laid off 96 percent of its staff this month due to the financial strain caused by the lockdown. Levey said Y7 instructors will continue to offer the free IG Live sessions, and they’re working to create a paid live-streaming version of the in-class experience, but it hasn’t been easy.
“Ninety-five percent of our team works in studio, and with the kind of revenue drop-off we’ve seen, we’ve had to make some tough decisions in order to ensure we’ll be able to open our doors when we get through this,” Levey said.
The IG Live classes are a way for studios to maintain brand awareness and help them reach new audiences. For those of us trapped at home, they offer the chance to try new workouts you otherwise wouldn’t want to pay for. If you’re a devotee of a specific boutique brand, you can keep up with its instructors and stay in shape without going outside. And maybe when lockdown ends, we’ll all be ready to splurge on a class package or a studio membership just to feel feelings again.
So instead of staying on the couch after work for another 8 hours watching The Office for the 700th time, take advantage of these free classes to figure out which type of workout helps you forget about your coronavirus-induced existential dread. All you need to do is throw on some workout gear, find enough space to move, and scroll through Instagram—you’ll find countless fitness gurus and personal trainers vying for your attention.
If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve spent a lot of my time in isolation finding the best Instagram Live workout accounts to follow. The following accounts offer multiple classes per week—some even a handful every day—and are worth trying, especially considering how much money you’re saving.
AARMY, the bootcamp/spin mash-up studio started by former SoulCycle celeb trainers Akin Akman and Angela Manuel-Davis, just officially launched in NYC earlier this year. That was ill-fated timing, so it’s probably no surprise that they’re ready to bring it.
The workout: AARMY is pushing out several IG Live sessions a day. It’s a mix of full-body and upper/lower body bootcamps, EMOM (“every minute on the minute”) interval training, ab workouts, and spin sessions, plus a daily inspiration session with Angela. You’ll need a spin bike for the cycling classes, but otherwise the workouts are mostly equipment-free. Akin does use dumbbells fairly often, but you could definitely substitute a water bottle or other makeshift weights in a pinch.
Price: $38 for in-studio classes
Why it’s good: AARMY’s main appeal isn’t its workouts (there’s only so much you can do to make spin and bootcamps more exciting), but its trainers, Akin and Angela. I’m a big fan of Akin’s training style—he’s definitely pumped up (like every spin instructor, ever), but he’s not too crazy during non-spin sessions and makes all of the workouts seem very approachable. Don’t be fooled, because his bootcamps are very, very intense. I didn’t do any workouts with Angela, but I was pleasantly surprised by her daily inspiration sessions. These aren’t (as I first assumed) some sort of meditation or yoga; they’re short sessions where she discusses her training philosophy of changing yourself from the inside out.
The best thing about AARMY being a brand-new studio is that they haven’t had time to hire a lot of other trainers, so most of the IG Live content is put out by Akin and Angela. This might be the only chance you have to work out with such highly sought-after trainers for free, and I recommend taking advantage of it.
Multi-brand activewear retailer Bandier knows you won’t buy workout clothes without a good reason to wear them, so they’re partnering with brand ambassadors—mostly individual instructors/personal trainers—to bring you daily workouts on Instagram.
The workouts: Workout types vary, but you’ll mostly find sculpting, toning, and HIIT classes. You won’t see as many boutique studios represented, but you’ll get the chance to work out with some popular instructors, such as SoulCycle’s Samantha Jade, Rumble’s Callie Gulickson, and BoxUnion’s Rachel McClusky. You won’t need any special equipment, though Bandier hopes you might need some new workout duds.
Price: Bandier doesn’t offer studio classes, but SoulCycle is normally $34/class and Rumble starts at $32/class
Why it’s good: Bandier’s IG Live schedule isn’t always super easy to find, because it’s often listed in its stories instead of on its Instagram page. But the company is offering one workout class a day (1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET), and no workout I’ve done (so far) has required any special equipment. I kind of enjoy not knowing what each session will entail, because it’s easier for me to talk myself out of a workout if I know what it’s going to be. At the same time, the workouts aren’t too surprising—almost all of them are some form of toning/sculpting/interval training with the occasional yoga mixed in, so it’s not like I have to be prepared for any overly intense cardio.
Barry’s Bootcamp (@barrys)
Founded in Los Angeles in the late ‘90s, Barry’s Bootcamp is the original bootcamp-style boutique fitness studio. It’s not the newest or trendiest workout, but bootcamps haven’t evolved that much.
The workout: Barry’s is going live with two workouts a day: an equipment-free full-body bootcamp workout and a resistance band workout using the studio’s Band Together Fit Kit ($45). If you miss a class, all of the studio’s IG Live workouts are neatly labeled and archived on IGTV.
Price: Normally $28-$38/class at a studio
Why it’s good: Barry’s Bootcamp has been around forever, so it’s not necessarily the first place I look for a way to disrupt my workout game. But the good thing about being around forever is that its trainers knows exactly what they’re doing. If you’re new to working out at home, or new to working out in general, Barry’s Instagram is a great place to start. The workouts are consistent but there’s still a decent variety, the instructors are all excellent, and everything is organized and archived on IGTV.
Bootcamps aren’t the easiest workouts to get started with, but Barry’s instructors make it pretty fun. Even if you end up hurting the next day, at least you had fun. Right? I’m a big fan of the resistance band workouts, even though $45 is a bit pricey for the band kit. (I prefer to think of it as a way to support the studio). Plus, it’s always nice to do workouts that are customized for the exact equipment you have.
Basecamp Fitness (@basecampfitness)
Basecamp Fitness is a bootcamp studio that specializes in intense 35-minute workouts with alternating intervals of strength training and cardio. The in-studio workouts use equipment, but during lockdown, Basecamp is doing a series of (almost) equipment-free IG Live workouts.
The workout: Basecamp is offering one workout a day, usually a circuit consisting of bodyweight exercises, though you’ll occasionally see a couple of exercises that use dumbbells. Basecamp trainers are streaming the same workout multiple times a day, so I had no excuse to skip it if I missed it.
Price: Normally starts at $32/class for in-studio workouts
Why it’s good: Basecamp’s “workout of the day” model reminds me of CrossFit. If you like CrossFit, or the idea of CrossFit, it’s worth checking out. (You could also just do CrossFit, but this’ll give you some variety.) The best thing about Basecamp’s IG Live setup is that they go live with the workout multiple times a day, each time with a different instructor. Not every person has time to sit around waiting for a fitness class to start, and not every instructor is going to work for you. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), what this also means is that Basecamp is doing its best to make sure you have absolutely no excuses to not work out.
Carbon38 isn’t a gym, it’s an online luxury activewear retailer—basically the place to go for all that ultra-chic athleisure none of us actually work out in.
The workouts: Carbon38 is teaming up with its brand ambassadors—individual trainers and boutique studios—to stream some fun, athleisure-friendly workouts. The workouts vary quite a bit, but you can expect a good mix of HIIT, yoga, pilates, barre, dance cardio, and other types of sculpting and toning work. Most of the workouts require no special equipment beyond a yoga mat and a winning attitude, but there’s the occasional spin class (such as Cyclebar), which you’ll need a spin bike for.
Price: Carbon38 doesn’t normally offer workout classes
Why it’s good: Carbon38's IG Live schedule is basically like a virtual ClassPass, and I am here for it. There are plenty of workouts you might expect, such as HIIT and yoga, but there are also less common workouts: barre, boxing, different types of dance. Trust me, there’s only so much HIIT and yoga you can really do at home before you get bored. Of course, the best class I’ve taken on Carbon38's IG so far is “Sofa Sweat with Gabby Short,” which is like a full workout using your...couch.
Don’t be fooled by the name: CITYROW is a rowing studio, but the home workouts they’re offering during the lockdown do not require any special equipment.
The workout: CITYROW’s instructors are serving up 20-minute bodyweight workouts three times a week on the company’s IG Live. (All of those workouts are archived on IGTV.) If you’re looking for a, well, full rowing experience with an actual rowing machine, check out CITYROW GO. You can check out on-demand rowing workouts with the company’s app (2-week free trial, $22+/month), grab a $75 gadget to stick on your current rowing machine, or buy the full CITYROW GO Rower for $1,500.
Price: Normally $25-$32/class in studio
Why it’s good: Honestly, I first went over to CITYROW’s Instagram looking for rowing workouts. I’m not sure why, since I don’t have a rowing machine. But most people probably don’t have rowing machines (especially those who go to CITYROW to work out), so it’s cool that CITYROW is doing a series of home workouts that don’t require equipment. CITYROW’s IG Live workouts are short (about 20 minutes) and intense, but not as intense as most of the bootcamps I tried, so they’re good for those who aren’t quite ready to go full bootcamp but who still want to get a solid workout in. If you do happen to have a rowing machine, you can find actual rowing workouts on CITYROW’s (paid) app.
Rumble is a celeb-favorite HIIT workout that mixes boxing and strength exercises for an intense 30-45 minutes.
The workout: You won’t get the full Rumble experience with their IG Live workouts, because Rumble’s in-studio classes require wraps and gloves and involve actually hitting things (bags, not people). The studio’s IG Live workouts stick to shadowboxing and body weight exercises. You won’t need any equipment or previous boxing experience to do one of Rumble’s home workouts, but you will need a little extra space for bouncing around and punching the air.
Price: Normally $30-$36/class in studio
Why it’s good: Because it’s boxing! Seriously—the coolest thing about Rumble is that the boxing part is actual boxing, and there’s just something awesome about working out while also learning how to punch effectively.
I’m not saying you’ll be able to jump in the ring after this is all over, but it’s something. Even if learning to box doesn’t thrill you, Rumble’s workouts might still be worth a look. There aren’t that many ways to make interval workouts “new,” but boxing is one of them.
Y7 mixes traditional moves with not-so-traditional music and atmosphere, such as vinyasa yoga in a candlelit studio set to hip-hop.
The workout: Y7 is offering a 50-minute full yoga “flow” twice a week during the lockdown. You won’t get the same dark, heated, alternative-yoga vibe from the IG Live session alone, but you can set the mood with music using Y7's instructor playlists from the studio’s Instagram page.
Price: Normally starts at $25/class in studio
Why it’s good: The one thing I’m definitely missing from most of the IG Live workouts is music. Most instructors do play some sort of music on their end, but it’s not the same as having music play through decent-quality speakers on your end. So I love that Y7's instructors release their playlists before the sessions, because it means I can cue up Spotify on my Google Home. It probably seems like a minor detail, but anything that makes working out at home feel more like working out in a studio is what’s going to keep you engaged through quarantine.