January 11, 2020 at 12:00AM by CWC
Personal training hasn’t ever been all that accessible (unless, perhaps, you’re Kim K). Because of this, most of us have to schlep it to boutique fitness classes or rely on digital offerings to work up a sweat. But as of late, at-home workouts have been blurring the lines between boutique-level quality and accessibility, and you can bet that streaming services are going to do the very same for personal training. One company that’s out front? Openfit.
While there have certainly been advancements in at-home personal training—the digital fitness platform Mirror, for example, recently introduced the option for $40 training sessions on their $1,495 device—none has, until now, made it truly accessible for everyone. The digital fitness app Openfit is looking to democratize access to a personal trainer. On its streaming service, workouts are led by an instructor who can give you everything an IRL personal trainer would—form adjustments, motivation, you name it.
All you do is allow the app access to your camera (this is optional), so that it’s focused on you as you workout. This way, the trainer watches you in real time so they know exactly how to coach you through the exercises. It costs about $15 per month, or $100 annually, and all you need is your phone to participate. “Our goal with Openfit Live is to democratize the [boutique fitness class] experience and make it possible for everyone to benefit from accountability, community, and results that come from having a live trainer providing immediate feedback in a small group setting,” says Selina Tobaccowala, chief digital officer at Openfit.
Until this point, one of the main sticking points with at-home fitness has been that you can crank through the exercises, but you might do so to the detriment of your body if you’re doing them incorrectly. “What makes Openfit Live different from other streaming workouts is that they are actually live,” says Tobaccowala. “Through use of your phone’s camera, the certified trainer leading the class can actually see you and give real-time feedback and motivation, just as if you were in-person at a boutique class.”
That’s exactly what it felt like when I signed into my very first workout: a 25-minute “calm” yoga flow with a trainer named Kristin. Like a regular video chat, Kristin took up most of my screen and I was a tiny box off to the side. While there were others in the class as well (Kristin made sure to say “hi” to everyone ahead of class), the experience actually felt pretty intimate, as I followed along with the flow. Once or twice, she shouted out my name and offered me adjustments. When I corrected my form, I found that I could feel the stretch even better (just like happens in an IRL class). There’s so much more than yoga to choose from, too. The classes run the gamut, including barre, Pilates, strength training, running, even foam rolling, and all range from 15 minutes to 35 or 45 minutes long per class, with some 60-minute long options on weekends. (FWIW: Openfit says 40 percent of its users opt for 15-minute classes.)
To retain the boutique fitness feel of the workout, Openfit limits its classes to 40 attendees so that the instructor can really keep tabs on everyone throughout the workout. Trainers teach from a studio-like room in front of screens that let them watch class participants, so they’re fully focused on digital attendees during the class. After you’re done with the workout, the trainer will send you a personalized message that looks at your growth and performance. You don’t have to stick with the live schedule, though—there are over 300 on-demand workouts you can stream at any time. While the classes themselves are just the same as any other streaming app, if you want extra help with form (or prefer having someone to coach you through chaturanga push-ups when you’re struggling, which—I feel you), this is hands down the most affordable way to experience that.