JCC Fitness - Online Exercise Videos: What You Need to Know

By Susan Donovan, Director of Fitness & Wellness Services, JCC of Greater New Haven

The pandemic has certainly prompted the gym goer to pursue online options to stay in shape. Platforms like YouTube have certainly made workouts easier to find and convenient to access, allowing people to take advantage of exercise classes in the comfort of their home.

These online video platforms are overflowing with exercise video options; a quick search can lead to dozens or even hundreds of choices. However, be careful that the ease of workout availability may not always be the best solution regarding exercise safety, quality and even the information offered as it is not always the best for everyone.

Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate your options when it comes to exercise safety, content quality, and an underlying negative message or promotion of a product.

  1. When following an at-home exercise video, no one is checking in on your form or taking into consideration any physical limitations or pre-existing medical concerns you may have; you need to take responsibility for your own safe workout. Is the person leading the workout offering movement modifications and encouraging you to listen to your own body? Does a particular exercise cause pain? If you are unsure if you’re performing the exercise correctly—or if it causes discomfort other than the healthy sensation of muscles reacting—then stop, sit that one out or choose another video to follow.
  2. Check the channel information for the instructor’s credentials. Anyone can post an exercise video on a platform such as YouTube, whether or not they are well-trained, certified or even qualified. Do they carry the education and experience in the workout format they’re teaching? Are they certified through a credentialed fitness organization such as ACE, ACSM, NASM or AFFA, to name a few?
  3. Is there a proper warm-up to prepare for the workout and a sufficient cool-down?
  4. The person leading the workout has the ability to influence you. Are they inspiring and motivating? You should feel good physically, mentally and emotionally when you move your body.
  5. Be aware of product promotion. Is it a sponsored video requiring you to purchase a specific product for success? This may not necessarily be good or bad, but it may influence the messages you hear.

Consider going virtual through live streaming exercise classes and/or personal training programs. Platforms like Zoom enable you to have an interactive experience where the fitness professional can instruct and observe through the screen, ensuring a safer and more effective workout. The JCC Fitness & Wellness Department offers a variety of live streaming programs that do exactly that. They also have a library of videos taught by certified, experienced teachers and trainers where members can access easily through our website at jccnh.org.

Reach out to Susan Donovan for additional guidance at susand@jccnh.org to help you take better care of your health and wellness. Find out more about programs at jccnh.org/personal-training/fitness.