For people who are financially strapped, time challenged or on the road without a gym in sight, fitness experts say streaming videos can provide cheap or free workouts, leaving no excuses for even the most dedicated couch potatoes to avoid exercise.
Streaming videos cater for tastes ranging from aerobics to the dance exercise Zumba and are as portable as a smartphone.
To emphasize how accessible it is, the streaming site for Dirty Yoga features a pizza take-out box.
“It’s online yoga delivered to you, wherever you are,” said Jess Gronholm, yoga teacher and co-founder of the site that was launched more than two years ago. "Our idea was to remove as many barriers and make it as convenient as we can.”
Not everyone has the time or money to go to a gym on a regular basis, Gronholm said, and online exercise is flexible in a way traditional gyms are not.
Miami-based fitness instructor Jessica Smith streams a variety of workouts from cardio blasts to kettlebells through JessicaSmithTV over both YouTube and paid digital download. She has also released her latest program, "Walk On: 21 Day Weight Loss Plan," as a digital download and DVD.
Smith said the YouTube Channel makes up only about eight to 10 percent of her company’s revenue, through Google Ads, but the platform builds her community.
“Streaming faces many of the same challenges that the fitness DVD market did. Consumers are faced with the distractions of home workouts, (as well as) multiple programs, instructors, fads, and trends to choose from,” she added.
Many home exercisers outside urban centers also do not have fast enough Internet to play streaming videos in real time which poses another problem.
Crunch Live, a service of the national chain of fitness centers called Crunch, streams some 65 videos of its varied, signature workouts.
Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programming, said the service, which is free to members and costs non-members $9.95 a month, appeals to people who travel, or do not feel fit enough to enter a gym, or who do not live near a club.
Gronholm believes the future of streaming is spacious enough to accommodate all workout tastes and styles.
“We’re not trying to be everything to everyone. We’re very niche,” he said about his yoga site. "As streaming becomes easier to do, I think it is definitely the way of the future.”