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Episode 89: Wired Workouts

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The shift to online fitness has been REAL, especially during the pandemic. Today, Jess McDowell KINETICSWEAT Founder and Fitness Model joins us to discuss this shift and what it means for the health and wellness community moving forward.


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The content of this podcast has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA. It is educational in nature and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult a qualified medical professional to see if a diet, lifestyle change, or supplement is right for you. Any supplements mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please note that the opinions of the guests or hosts are their own and may not reflect those of Advanced Orthomolecular Research, Inc.

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Welcome to Supplementing Health, a podcast presented by Advanced Orthomolecular Research. We are all about applying evidence based and effective dietary lifestyle and natural health product strategies for your optimal health. In each episode, we will feature very engaging clinicians and experts from the world of functional and naturopathic medicine to help achieve our mission to empower people to lead their best lives naturally.

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[01:10] Cassy Price: Welcome to Supplementing Health. There have been a lot of shifts that have taken place throughout the pandemic and one of those was the move to online fitness. During the first half of 2020, fitness apps grew by nearly 50% and the virtual fitness market is expected to see a compounded annual growth rate of more than 30% by 2026. Today Jess McDowell KINETICSWEAT founder and fitness lifestyle model is here to discuss this shift with me to online fitness. Welcome Jess.

[01:36] Jess McDowell: Hi. Thank you for having me.

[01:39] Cassy Price: Let’s dive right in. Like anything there are pros and cons to online fitness. There are the camps that love it and the camps that kind of would prefer not to do online and would prefer in gym or in person classes. One of those objections that I personally have heard a lot is the equipment requirement. Some people feel that it is a huge financial and space burden to have the equipment that they feel that they need especially with the supply chain issues and limiting accessibility that has come up in the last few years. From your perspective, what investment is actually required to start something at home online?

[02:20] Jess McDowell: Honestly it truly depends on that person’s goal and what they are working to achieve. As far as online fitness goes with equipment, a lot of what you can do to get to a place where you are confident in your body and feeling strong can be done with body weight and really minimal equipment especially it being 2021, we have a lot of fun new equipment inventions that are affordable. For somebody that is starting out and is wanting to do possibly two to three times a week of a live stream class or monthly on demand it really could go from anywhere between $75 up to a couple of hundred. If you are looking at doing more virtual training where it is a one-on-one basis, but it is virtual, that could also go up to $600. Truthfully it is what that person is looking for, the type of workouts that person is needing for their body.

[03:28] Cassy Price: For your company KINETICSWEAT, you offer online fitness programs. Have you noticed or created a change in your programs with this shift to online that helps your clients increase accessibility?

[03:43] Jess McDowell: Yes. Honestly, you have to just be creative. You want to keep people staying on trend and relevant. Just because it is virtual doesn’t mean that you are not in competition obviously with all of these other virtual apps and virtual influencers as well as gyms and studios. Getting creative, honestly for myself and my business, my clients are the most important and sky is the limit. Offering weekly and monthly memberships that include livestream options where people can show up with you as well as those on demand options for those that are on the go or have a busier or a different schedule. Clients are automatically signed up for three of my classes weekly so that eliminates having to sign up and having to commit yourself. You know every week I am working out with Jess on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. As well as knowing that all you have to do is kind of show up with those added bonuses with the unlimited on demand access. If you know you are going to be travelling for a few months or a week or two and you are not going to be able to get into a few classes or wherever you are going you are not sure if those classes will be for you, you can take your virtual fitness wherever you go. A lot of the categories for livestream as well as on demand can range from 15 to 60 minutes. I think that is another really great opportunity as far as the online fitness platform whereas a lot of studios have to maintain overhead of being in the studio or gym as well as the trainers and clients of having strict 45–60-minute classes.

[05:30] Cassy Price: What are some of the challenges that you find that come with online instruction then?

[05:36] Jess McDowell: Challenges honestly, I personally am a very detail-oriented trainer in person so when I am speaking or when I am in a livestream class or I am filming for on demand, I don’t find it is difficult for me to properly instruct with form movement or how fast or slow someone should be going. I also know that there is a time and a place for people to really push themselves and also to knowing that when I am doing a virtual workout if I can’t see them, and they know that I need to make sure that I am going up to the screen and letting them know that I hear you. That part for me I don’t find difficult. What I do find difficult is more on the sense that you can’t help it if Wi-Fi goes out. You can’t help it if your microphone decides not to turn on. Some of those technical glitches that happen can be a little bit challenging for online instruction. On top of that there are people that obviously don’t consider virtual fitness to be beneficial or don’t even consider it to be ‘real business’. Having to really put yourself out there and explain yourself and to really market to the right people and always staying relevant about what you are talking about your business by showing people your on-demand platforms and making that available for people to preview. I have a $5 Thursday class and I talk about how you can’t knock it until you have tried it. The pay $5 only to take the virtual class. Some of those barriers that you probably wouldn’t see normally when you are doing more of a gym or studio because your people feel more comfortable when they are going in person verses “okay, I am paying this person and I am working out at home why am I paying for it? it should be free.” They don’t understand the billable hours that we are not being paid for and a lot of the on-demand platforms are one person. I am my own trainer, so I am not only prepping for all of the classes, I am doing my website, my branding, my marketing, the in person privates that I have, I am prepping for both sides, I am filming, I am working with my PR, I have my clients that I have to be there for constantly as well. There are a lot more aspects to it that people don’t understand, and you want to be able to explain that but also at the same time not take away from really what is the most important and that is the fitness aspect of it all.

[08:17] Cassy Price: One of the benefits of being in person that people get is also proper adjustments to make sure that your form is correct. When you are with a trainer they can move and guide your body to the position it is supposed to be in. How do you overcome that when you are doing it digitally?

[08:35] Jess McDowell: For me, I just know when to stop doing the workout and really talk and explain verses doing the whole entire workout. I know that a lot of trainers when they are doing virtual feel like they have to do the full workout which is really great because it gets a full workout for you in too but knowing that if you are stopping and taking a deep breath and explaining during the 30 second- one minute round that you are doing that you are taking that time and you are visualising all of those people in front of you as if they were in real life and you are looking into the camera and you are looking them in the eye and you are explaining that you want a flat back, your core is engaged, slow and steady fluid movement, this isn’t a sprint this is a marathon. I would rather have you get 15 really good reps out of this round than 30 where you are crazy all over the place. Explaining “okay, when we are using these dumbbells have your wrists a certain way. Elbows in.” It is actually a lot of work to make sure that you are constantly reminding and staying on top of it and not just saying it once or twice but doing it throughout the whole entire workout. It is really no different than if you are in person in a group class where they are packing in 15-30 people and it is one person, it is kind of the same thing, but you are doing it virtually. You are really having to be a good trainer and be expressive.

[10:06] Cassy Price: Kind of going old school here but back when workouts were on VHS, I am perhaps showing my age a little bit, the recommendation was always to watch the workout before you actually tried it the first time yourself. Do you think there is any benefit to that recommendation still now that we have moved into this more common digital age where it is a little more at your fingertips than it used to be?

[10:31] Jess McDowell: I wouldn’t say to watch the workout before you do it. Luckily if you are doing an on-demand class you have the option to pause which is really great. If you are somebody that is able to hold yourself accountable or for instance with some of the on-demand options that I have, you are in constant contact in a sense so being able to watch a part of the round that we are doing or that set and seeing what is going on and then starting it again and going over it is great. If it is something to do with a livestream class honestly you have to just throw yourself in there. I don’t think that anyone should be intimidated on not being able to do a livestream class because they are unsure or afraid of the unknown. It is kind of like going into a studio or gym for the first time. You are going to have those kinks that you have to work out and those areas that you are unsure of or unfamiliar with but being able to be to get in front of the trainer and talking to me so reaching out and asking questions “hey, is this the right pair of gliders I should have? Should I go a little heavier on my dumbbells?” I always explain that too in class to have at least two sets of dumbbells because you do want to push yourself. I do also offer with the $5 Thursday, I think it is great when trainers offer that virtually, where they can have a class that is not a regular price for a drop in or not a package where they are paying monthly where someone can come in and try it out and see if they like it. That is where I feel it is beneficial in a sense. I forget to always mention this, social media, there is a lot of times where I post on social media via reels or stories or posts or highlights of what happens in class and what to expect during class. You have to be really vocal. You are constantly explaining and answering questions just like anything else.

[12:28] Cassy Price: So then cueing becomes much more important as an instructor when you are doing it virtually verses in person?

[12:36] Jess McDowell: Honestly, yes. 100%. I think it is actually a little bit more using more brain power because you really want to make sure that these people are enjoying class and that you are enjoying yourself and you are bringing life and humour in that you are not just some virtual robot because you are human still.

[12:54] Cassy Price: I can imagine it can be challenging at times when you are used to doing an activity and then you have to think about how you can explain that activity rather than just doing it, making sure it is in a clear way that somebody that knows nothing about it could understand and follow through.

[13:08] Jess McDowell: Yes. Exactly. There are times where I will ask family members of best friends of mine, I will give them a free class to sign up and I will say “what did you think about this? What did you think about that?” I do in home private training, that is the whole point of KINETICSWEAT, you are available, or I am available, and I go where you go. I will even run of a few things with my clients that are in person because I know my clientele and I know the vast majority that are looking for the virtual fitness, that way I can know better as to how to properly explain something nicer or easier or maybe I shouldn’t use this type of equipment for this type of workout. It is like trial and error sometimes too.

[13:56] Cassy Price: In your opinion is there anything that people shouldn’t be trying for the first time via digital tutorials?

[14:02] Jess McDowell: Honestly, anything that is high cardiovascular output so where you are getting into a high anaerobic stage or doing some Tabata or as well as plyometric lifting which could be Olympic lifting or what people would call cross fit because that requires you to possibly have a spotter as well as if you are getting to that cardiovascular output of that anaerobic stage where you are getting 90% to max of your heart rate you could pass out. There could be serious repercussions for that and depending on the type of health that person is in. I always suggest when it comes to high intensity interval training, that is different. That is okay. Of course, if you are doing high intensity interval training, functional fitness, sculpting, barre, a cardio class is that lower to medium impact, things like that is totally fine. Also, too if it is somebody that is extremely unhealthy or has been sedentary or overweight I still do recommend them to do that because a lot of the classes that are virtual will explain. It is the trainer’s job to be descriptive in the class descriptions just like anything else, for me personally I would always recommend that if it is a high anaerobic Tabata, Olympic plyometric cross fit lifting to always make sure that you’re able to do that and that there is somebody there spotting you or with you. Obviously, of course just making sure if you have any injuries that you are cleared by your doctor. If you have recently been pregnant that you are able to go but that also comes with signing a waiver. That is another situation.

[15:48] Cassy Price: You mentioned accountability which is another super important piece for many people to have a successful workout program or fitness program in their life. What are some of the tips that you have for staying motivated if you don’t have that gym membership or that scheduled class to keep you on track?

[16:04] Jess McDowell: Honestly, that goes by the type of person you are. If you are eliminating any type of gym or if you are eliminating the studio atmosphere you have already automatically gained 30-40 minutes back onto your day. I like people to think about how much time and convenience it is but also too what the output and the physical gain that you can get from it. It is always nice if you are signing up and you are new to a virtual program to have accountability by signing up for classes or paying ahead of time. That way if you have paid and put your money out you are invested in it you are more likely to show up. Of course, it is great to have a fitness buddy, or a workout pal which with virtual fitness it is really cool because you can have somebody that lives half way across the world. It might be somebody that you loved working out with, but you can’t do it normally because they don’t live in the same town as you but now you can which is really great. Another thing on my end keeping people motivated via challenges. My weekly picks that I will do for on-demand so that way clients will see “oh, these are the picks for this week that she really likes.” That gives someone more of an incentive to do it. One week everyday this is what you are doing. I am really big on people writing things down. I always go on a plan of who, what where, when. and why kind of thing. Every day you should know what type of workout you are doing whether it is strength or cardio. How long is it going to be? Where is it? What you are going to wear? Is it virtual or in person? That way if they know everything, they are more inclined to do it because there are no excuses or fear of the unknown or major decisions that have to be made. Truthfully it is really not anything different that you would be doing going into a gym or going to a trainer or going into a studio, it is just more or less you are opening your laptop or tablet or whatever screen you are and committing to it.

[18:10] Cassy Price: Do you think it is important for trainers to help bolster that sense of community online or is that more up to the people doing the workout in your opinion?

[18:21] Jess McDowell: Gosh, I always go back and forth with this I’ll be honest. I think it is up to that person. There are some people who want to just workout in their own peace or work out and get it done and move on. There are some people who only go to the workout for the community and the interaction because that might be the only interaction they have. I do think for a virtual platform there should be that sense of community whether it is through Facebook groups, whether it is through online community being “hey, I am going to have one day where everyone comes on to a zoom meeting and we all chat” like a workshop for example. If it is something like a local meetup or a pop up that will happen. That way you are hitting on everybody’s needs and wants. I do think no matter what there should be an aspect of community but most importantly relationship between you and trainer and that comes in play with me. I want any person who is working out with me, whether it is on-demand, livestream, in person to know that I am accessible and I am here to provide you the tools and instruction and I am here to serve you no matter what. I let them have my email address and my phone number. I am yet to have anybody abuse it thankfully but at the same time I think that also gives a sense of reasserting that they have somebody even if they don’t use it.

[19:51] Cassy Price: That makes sense. Now for people who thrive from the energy that comes from those group classes, is there a way to recreate that feeling from home for those who are doing the livestreaming or the on-demand classes?

[20:05] Jess McDowell: Yes, absolutely. I always say create your own space. Like anything else, if you have a home office. A lot of people are making their own home coffee bars now. Since Covid, there ae a lot of ways that people have recreated their home life to make it more functional for them. Knowing that you have a little workout area, have your own mat that makes you feel good, have your activewear that is practical and works for you, the right type of sneakers, with your equipment if you are eccentric, you can always get different types of dumbbells that are bright and colourful or if you are more neutral you can get that as well. Making it a place where you go that is also separate. You are more likely to be distracted by looking at your kitchen then I would suggest then maybe not having your fitness area next to your kitchen. If you are more likely to be distracted by whatever it is in your home, move it away from that. If you are unable to do that because of the size and space, luckily you can go outdoors so maybe this is something where you have your few items of equipment that put into a little fun area, you bring it outside, you get your workout on and you get that fresh air and then you come back inside and you put it away wherever it is. Make sure that you feel the best with the workout but also too with your props or your equipment or your activewear. Definitely, having your own space.

[21:39] Cassy Price: Now the influx of people moving to online fitness was huge at the early onset of the pandemic in early 2020 through to probably Q4 of 2020 and beyond. Have you noticed that there has been any drop in that interest since gyms have started reopening or Pilates studios or yoga studios and all of these places that people used to frequent pre-pandemic?

[22:07] Jess McDowell: Yes and no. It honestly depends on the type of city and location that you are in. For example, I like in a very small town so we have a set amount of gyms and studios and people like the aspect of community but also too they realise that they have kids or now they are going back into the office or now they have more responsibilities because sports are back or their personal groups are back with things so being able to have that time added back onto your day by being able to eliminate having to travel, pack, prep or wonder where the kids are going or who is going to take care of this or that. I think honestly covid helped fitness as far as making it more of an online virtual platform and making it more accessible to some people that might not have been able to do fitness because of cost or not having transportation or being intimidated. I think if anything this is going to be something that is going to end up being a billion-dollar industry. I don’t see it going anywhere. I am sure that some areas of the online world have taken a hit, but a lot of people also now are doing fitness where they will go in person, and they will also have their virtual side too especially those that are busy and lets be real everyone claims that they are busy no matter what. It is everyone’s favourite word these days. That and having convenience. I don’t think that anyone that has been doing virtual fitness since 2020 has really taken a serious hit where you would have to reconsider our business platforms.

[23:54] Cassy Price: Would you say there is anything that you have learned through this shift that you will carry forward?

[24:02] Jess McDowell: Yes. Knowing your worth. Knowing that you can reach a greater amount of people and provide them with something that not very many people can provide. In a sense for me my whole goal with KINETICSWEAT and what I wanted to do was provide women affordable, attainable and practical fitness that actually works that they can incorporate into their day-to-day. For me that is what I strive to do every day and be better at that and really to be able to reach people near and far. I don’t want anyone to think that they can’t do it or that fitness is not for them or that they can’t have a healthy strong confident lifestyle because they were born a certain way, genetics, mental health, the drive, the fear of the unknown. Anyone can become strong and fit as long as they put in the work and understand that it is going to get hard and there are peaks and valleys but once you click with that right trainer and once you get onto that path and you start seeing those results and start feeling good and you start showing up it is really hard to go back from that. That is what I really want everyone to understand and know. I think with virtual fitness that is the most gratifying think I can ever have.

[25:36] Cassy Price: I know personally I am a big fan of the virtual fitness. I find it has helped me keep a more regular schedule when it comes to my fitness which I think is a huge barrier for a lot of people and like you said it has helped to make it easier to schedule that into your day when you are ‘busy’ whatever that looks like for you. For our listeners, if they want to learn more from you or work with you, they can check out your offerings on your website kineticsweatbyjess.com. then you were mentioning that they can also find tips and tricks on your Instagram which is @kineticsweatbyjess, correct?

[26:16] Jess McDowell: Yes. Feel free to go to either one. Reach out to me. My email is all over both social media and on my website. I am always available. I love to chat even if it is just chatting and getting to know each other, the industry, wanting to just make a friend. I am always available so check it out. There are so many different great options, and I am also a really fun trainer too.

[26:46] Cassy Price: Awesome. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. I found this conversation very interesting, and I really appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge with me.

[26:54] Jess McDowell: Yes. Thank you so much. I have had a blast and I hope that everyone gets a lot of good information out of this.

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Thank you for listening to Supplementing Health. For more information about our guests, past shows, and future topics, please visit AOR.ca/podcasts or AOR.us/podcasts. Do you have a topic you want us to cover? We invite you to engage with us on social media to request a future topic or email us at marketing@aor.ca. We hope you tune in again next week to learn more about supplementing your health.

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