Tips For Exercising With Friends Online From People Who Actually Do It

Staying fit with friends

The new normal calls for new routines. In this series, #TeamClozette shares their journey of making healthier habits a new way of life.

When it comes to fitness, you make gains by giving up easy comforts — whether it’s a craving for junk food or a desire to stay in bed instead of exercising. It was a hard thing to do before the pandemic, and it’s even harder to do right now. Indulging in emotional eating and staying still are coping mechanisms that make us feel instantly better amidst all the chaos that’s happening around us. But continuing to do these in the long run isn’t a good strategy. Eventually, our bodies will become frail and unhealthy which is not a good thing when you’re in the middle of a pandemic.

The solution? Exercising with friends online. It’s a hitting-two-birds-with-one-stone situation — you stay fit while staying social. Both are key to being mentally and physically healthy in the new normal. In hopes of reaping these benefits, Integrated Solutions Manager Lee Soo Sin, Content & Campaign Manager Wanjing Lin and I (Features Writer Therese Lim) committed to exercising together online for a week. Ahead, get no-nonsense virtual workout ideas and tips for exercising online with friends based on our experience.

Set a time everyone can commit to

The first challenge we had to tackle was setting a time everyone can commit to because we have different preferences of when to workout. Soo Sin loves morning workouts while Wanjing and I are night owls who think the idea of working out at 7:30AM is equivalent to torture. Eventually, we decided to commit to working out every day at 6:15 PM so we can have a little wiggle room to wrap things up at work and set up our workout space.

Although it was seen at first as a hassle, we eventually found that setting this time apart is an advantage. “There is this pressure to stick to the schedule since other people have set aside the time too to make sure we can do this together — which means I do actually exercise according to the planned schedule,” Wanjing said. “This made me realise that it isn’t all that impossible to fit exercising regularly into the daily schedule.” Instead of asking your friends what time they’re available to workout each day, it’s better to set aside a specific time so you can already block it in your schedule.

Prepping your space for a group workout

Working out in balcony

Soo Sin working out on her balcony.

There are two main things to consider when preparing a space for a virtual workout with your friends. First, you must have a nook that doesn’t have a lot of visual clutter that may distract your teammates. Make sure to keep piles of laundry or stacks of paper out of sight. Not only are they distracting but you may knock them over while working out. Soo Sin likes working out on her balcony which has a nice calming city view.

Working out at home with laptop

Wanjing's desk setup for a virtual workout with friends.

Next, position your laptop in a way that your camera could cover your whole body. The reason for this is so your friends can check up on you especially if a particular workout is challenging. It can also help your workout buddies correct your form. You also have to check before your workout session if you can still see the screen even if you’re lying down for the floor exercise. Wanjing likes putting her laptop in a stand for a great vantage point even when she’s doing ab crunches.

Vary your workouts

Workout Zoom with friends

The three of us reviewing the workout and sharing what we think about it.

It’s tempting to stick to one exercise that you know very well, but it’s good to shake things up so you don’t overwork a particular group of muscles. A benefit of working out with friends is you get to swap ideas about various exercises. The three of us love different types of workouts. Soo Sin prefers cardio-heavy ones. “I prefer HIIT types of workouts. I like that I don't need to commit long exercising hours to achieve my daily calorie burn goal as HIIT workouts can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. I also like the feeling of sore muscles the next day after every HIIT session,” she shared.

Meanwhile, Wanjing prefers gentler exercises. “I like gentle Pilates workouts. It’s not one of the most intense workouts with lots of jumping and all but still manages to make use of your full body muscles. It’s low intensity and short, yet helps you tone the entire body,” she said.

And as for me, I like barre exercise because it offers a good balance of developing your flexibility and building muscle.

To make it work, we decided to come up with an exercise plan that will incorporate all the workouts we like. Here’s what our schedule looked like:

Monday: Yoga Reset

The first day of the working week can be a drag, so we start with something that’s gentle and allows us to decompress after a long day.

Tuesday: Barre Burn

The next day, we ramp up the action with a barre exercise. It’s a little bit challenging as it requires body coordination and some of the reps require weight training, but overall, it’s fun and manageable.

Wednesday: Happy Workout

Hump day! We don’t just work on our glutes during the mid-week, but we also pick a workout that will continue to perk us up so we decided on doing a feel-good happy workout that has a lot of intense reps and dance-like movements. We enjoyed the endorphin rush after.

Thursday: No Equipment HIIT

Thursdays can be quite busy for us as we begin to wrap up projects and try to beat deadlines before the end of the working week. Luckily, with this quick no-fuss, no-equipment HIIT exercise, we still got our dose of workout for the day even with a hectic schedule.

Friday: Gentle Sculpting Pilates

A super gentle low-impact exercise pick to cap off our week. Most of the reps are done while lying down and there’s no intense jumping or weight training, but it still gave us a good stretch.

Learn and practice correct forms beforehand

There’s one big disadvantage to working with friends online without a coach — there’s no professional that will keep an eye on you and correct your form. While your friends can watch out for you during the workouts, they may sometimes miss what you’re doing as they may be concentrating on working out. “There is no one to help with your postures for the yoga workouts, so it’s really just doing what you can and keeping fingers crossed you’re doing it right,” Wanjing said. Soo Sin agreed, “You are more likely to have bad form especially if you are a beginner to that exercise and improper form can lead to pain and, over time, severe injury.”

With this, it’s important to learn and practise the correct forms of the exercises you’ve chosen before your actual workout session. Master what a warrior pose should look and feel like, practice plies in the mirror and so on. Even workouts where you don’t hold the poses for long can be tricky. Push-ups, for example, can be challenging for beginners so you have to look for variations that you can start with like doing it with knees bent or vertically on a wall.

Catch up after the workout

After finishing a session, don’t immediately log-out. We usually stay on the call and talk about our workout — what we like, the challenges we had. And we also stay for some personal chit chat some time. “On those days when I don’t feel like exercising, it's great to know that you have friends that can have a pep talk to and encourage each other to complete the exercise together. It's always a good feeling to know there is someone there to support you. And I always look forward to the hangout session with friends after the class, which is the carrot that motivates me to stick to attending the classes,” Soo Sin said.

Doing virtual workouts with friends felt challenging at first glance and we all had doubts if we could stick to it, but surprisingly, we did and we’re better for it. What we couldn’t do alone, we easily did together! Sometimes all you need is a little encouragement and a healthy dose of not wanting to let others down to get regular exercise.

Next, check out these yoga mat recommendations by seasoned yogis.

Comments, questions or feedback? Email us at [email protected].

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