Barre Body Studio classes. PHOTO: MARLO BRAUSSE

Need some new workout motivation? 

Personally, I have been struggling with finding the motivation to work out – especially from home. I am a 20-year-old who loves fitness, but can sometimes get lazy, and the pandemic restrictions have not helped this matter. It has been notably harder for me, and others who I’ve talked to, to find the drive to stay active at home.

Over the past few weeks, I have tried three different online workout classes that are based out of Calgary, and have spoken with each of the owners. I am going to be reviewing each of the studios in order to show which ones may be the best fit for different individuals. 

These three local fitness studios have transitioned to an entirely online format since the rollout of the public health restrictions. Fitness studios have taken a substantial hit from all of the restrictions over the past year, having to close down indefinitely and come up with new innovative ways to keep their doors open. So, when looking for new workouts online, why not support local companies?

kin + fit

The owners of Kin + Fit from left to right: Kenna, Jenn, and Alissa. PHOTO: JENN VARZARI

The first online fitness studio I tried was kin + fit. This studio was formed after three like-minded barre instructors decided they were missing the community aspect and power of group movement. The studio is unique as it was formed during the pandemic, in order to provide a safe, inclusive environment for all fitness levels to participate.

Their classes do not have a goal of caloric burn or weight loss. Instead, their focus is on spreading positivity, giving back and physical and mental health. Once a week, kin + fit has a class where the participation fee is a minimum donation of $1 to a chosen charity. To date, this studio has donated $1,500 to the Calgary Food Bank. 

These classes are all based on the, high intensity interval training or HIIT model of exercise which one of the owners Jenn Varzari explains as, “the alternating combo of high-intensity aerobic activity and resistance training.” 

They currently offer three types of HIIT classes: signature choreographed HIIT, timed bodyweight intervals, and weighted circuits. A drop-in regular class is $9, monthly membership is $29, a three-class pack is $21 and a 10 class pack is $65. This is very affordable compared to other fitness classes. These classes are accessible over Zoom and are available to the user for 24 hours after the class. This allows for a very interactive format, and the ability to do the workout more than once. 

“There is a palpable energy – almost an electricity – that comes with in-person group movement to music,” Varzari says.

This felt especially true when trying their signature HIIT class. This class beautifully incorporates music, with difficult but satisfying movements such as burpees, lunges, and jumps. Individuals have the option of leaving their cameras on or off, but are encouraged to leave them on for alignment corrections.

This class does not require equipment and provides motivating and encouraging instructions from the instructors. I personally loved this class and felt the burn of every muscle in my body. The community aspect of this class is riveting and feels as though you are right there with everyone.

MU Virtual

MU Virtual filming their digital spin class. PHOTO: MU VIRTUAL

The second online fitness class I tried was a spin class from MU Virtual. This studio was previously located in downtown Calgary but was forced to shut down due to the pandemic restrictions. They offer six different types of workout for $18.99 a month, or $199 for a yearly pass. These six types of classes include spin, yoga, meditation, HIIT, rowing, and mobility.

Studio owner Mike Minorczyk believes it is very important to be exposed to a variety of movements and disciplines when it comes to working out. This is why with a subscription to this service, you are provided with many different types of classes both live and on-demand,  with many different instructors.

“We feel that mental wellness is just as important as the physical which is why we include various yoga practices and meditation to promote an overall state of well-being,” says Minorczyk.  

MU Virtual really brings the in-class experience to your home. They do this by filming all of their classes in their studio, instead of their homes. Minorczyk says that they want clients to feel like they are in a fitness class, as this helps them zone in, and increases motivation.

In addition, the studio is in the process of releasing a virtual reality spin class on Youtube, which will really encapture this immersive experience. It will actually feel as though the client is front row in the spin studio.

“This is a brand new technology for the fitness industry and we are among the leaders in this field. Our goal is to have VR classes in all of our disciplines very soon and we believe we can achieve that this year,” says Minorczyk. 

As someone who is new to the world of spin, I was a bit hesitant to try one of these classes. The only real limitation to this type of workout is the necessity of a stationary bike or a stand for a normal bike. However, to my surprise, it was very easy to follow along, and overall fun to participate in. The class itself is very immersive (even without the virtual reality), and makes you feel like you are in the studio with the instructor.

The class is motivating, and the music is very upbeat, putting you in a positive mood for the rest of the day.

Barre Body Studio

Barre Body Studio classes before COVID-19. PHOTO: MARLON BRAUSSE

The third studio I tried was a barre class at Barre Body Studio. This studio in the southeast has been open since 2013, however converted their studio online due to the COVID-19 restrictions last March. It has been an especially tough transition for this studio as the owner Marlo Brausse says it was a huge learning curve.

“The entire past year has been spent building and re-building everything that we had worked so hard to create. 90 per cent of our business had to be re-imaged and re-created,” she says.

However, now they have a beautiful digital space with high-quality recorded videos for their clients to enjoy. At least one client loves the online classes.

“The hardest part is pressing that ‘play’ button but once I do, I’m all in! says Jennifer Buir. “The energy that radiates from the instructors is so genuine and motivating. You can’t help but smile while breaking a sweat with BBS.”

Barre Body Studio offers a 14-day free trial for anyone who wants to try out their program, and after that it is $29.99 per month. The classes range in intensity, length and style, and can be done with or without equipment. This makes it really easy for everyone to find something for themselves.

They offer barre classes, yoga, stretching, prenatal classes and high-intensity cardio classes. The studio is currently working on their Barre in the Park Classes that they will be offering this spring/summer to increase the community aspect of the studio. 

Barre is an amazing way to move your body while being gentle on your ligaments, and without lifting heavy weights. I especially loved trying the barre class on a day where I was feeling less motivated and had muscle fatigue. The high definition of these online classes and multiple camera angles make you feel like you are physically in the studio with them, which is very motivating to participate in.

The thing that I noticed about this studio was the strong sense of community individuals who attend class have. The Facebook groups, along with the live chats during class kept me motivated during the tougher movements.

YouTube video

I also tried a yoga class with this studio and found it very beneficial and relaxing. The stretches in this class are great for recovery and for your mental well-being. Having a mix of movement on this platform is amazing and I would recommend this studio for someone who loves a strong sense of community in a fitness studio. 

Making movement a goal

These three online local fitness studios all have something different to offer. Personally, I found all of these classes highly motivating and they brought something exciting and different to my day. I look forward to continuing all of these classes over the next while, and encourage you to find a local studio and try some of their digital classes.

Right now is an especially hard time for everyone with the uncertainty and lack of motivation to move your body. However, making small goals and cutting yourself some slack is key to your wellbeing. 

“Make your workout goals super small and reachable and find a friend to move with,” Varzari explains. “Working out doesn’t have to be an hour-long HIIT class! Ten minutes of walking with a friend or 10 minutes of an online class are better than zero. And if you don’t reach your small goal today, tomorrow’s a fresh new day.”

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Cassidy McKay is a lead editor at The Calgary Journal. She has a special interest in social media marketing and sports journalism.