Sarah Melone has not been to the gym in 10 years. Not coincidentally, 10 years ago she had the first of her three children. But Melone finds a way to stay fit, while being realistic.
"I don't have the [money] to invest in a gym knowing I can't keep up with that schedule, because I have child-care issues and all those other things that get in your way," says Melone, who lives in Tenafly.
Instead, Melone logs on to emglivefitness.com to access live streaming of a fitness class or choose a recorded class on demand. She pays $5 per class, selecting from a wide variety of choices. And she does it on her schedule.
Streaming fitness classes is a growing trend — and business — that seems to benefit everyone involved. It could change how (and when and where) people work out.
"This is a no-fail routine," says Melone. "You can't lose money. You pay as you go. Because it's always there and available, I feel like it gives me more of that opportunity toward fitness."
On most sites, like yogisanonymous.com, users pay a time-based subscription fee.
"The response has been absolutely amazing," says Yogis Anonymous co-owner Dorian Cheah, who started streaming classes from their California studio last March and has daily, weekly and monthly subscriptions. "It's been growing very quickly and consistently."
Joyce Wells, who started EMG, saw the possibilities of streaming fitness classes. She had years of business and technological experience from careers at Citibank and Microsoft. And she is a self-described fitness nut who loved going to classes when she lived in Manhattan. No longer in the city, she misses that level of fitness class.
"Not that I'm criticizing anything here, but the classes were nothing like the ones I took in New York," says Wells, who lives at Crystal Springs in Hamburg. "When they did get up here, they were, I'm going to say, 5 degrees different than what they [were] in New York or Chicago or L.A."
So as she pondered what to do with the rest of her life after leaving Microsoft, she realized she could combine her love of fitness and her business experience. How could she bring high-quality fitness classes to others like her, who didn't have it immediately available or were traveling and missing their favorite instructors and classes?
Wells called her former Pilates instructor, Liz Clingham, with the idea of streaming classes online. Clingham, who lives in Tenafly and teaches in the area, including at The Spa at Glenpointe, was immediately on board. She helped Wells test the site and they launched in May 2011.
Better than DVDs
Now Clingham's kickboxing, step, BOSU ball and spin class are available on the site. She says the people in the studio do not get short-changed and the people at home feel like they are in the class. She knows who is on live and talks directly to them at times. Melone says it is a much better experience than the tiresome, slickly produced DVDs.
"The way [EMG's] taping it, from the angle, you're right behind the instructor as you would be in class, as opposed to trying to mirror them like you do with a DVD," says Melone, who used to do the classes while looking at her laptop screen but now connects her iPad to the TV. "You see real people in the class, moving the way you are instead of perfect models. That part makes you feel better as you're trying to keep up."
And, Clingham says, it makes her better, too, especially when she has a particularly small crowd at the studio.
"You say, 'Oh, I usually have 12 people and I only have three today,' so you're sensitive to it," she says.
Knowing others will take the class from the website motivates Clingham to be at her best.
Wells thinks this business is a can't-lose endeavor.
"The streaming is so new, and as more and more people get used to it, I don't think it's going to replace DVDs or replace the gym, but add an extra dimension so people who are bored with their DVDs or bored with their own playlist will be able to have another option," she says.
Check it out
Many websites offer live streaming exercise classes. Here are some that are part of the growing trend:
EMG LIVE FITNESS
- URL: emglivefitness.com
- How much: No subscription. Classes are $5 each.
FLIRTY GIRL FITNESS
- URL: flirtygirlfitnesslive.com
- How much: 24-hour pass $5, 7 day pass $10, monthly pass $15.
- URL: yogisanonymous.com
- How much: $5 for 24-hour pass, $10/7-day pass, $15/month.
CONNECT ONLINE FITNESS
- URL: connectonlinfitness.com
- How much: Starts at $15.95/month. Free trial, one workout class on demand
- URL: dailyburn.com
- How much: $9.99/month
MY YOGA ONLINE
- URL: myyogaonline.com
- How much: $9.95/month, $89.95/ year.