Ditch the dumbbells and get your sweat on from the comfort of your home

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Ditch the dumbbells and get your sweat on from the comfort of your home

Yoga classes streamed online via a smartphone. [SHUTTERSTOCK]

Yoga classes streamed online via a smartphone. [SHUTTERSTOCK]

For some, working out at home isn't just a substitute for the gym or joining a sports club — it's become a way of life. 
 
Lee Chae-mi, a 34-year-old living in Seoul, finds that working out at home suits her lifestyle perfectly. After taking yoga classes at a professional studio once a week for years, she found it tough when the coronavirus pandemic hit, shuttering all gyms and exercise facilities. In a bid to release some of her daily stress, she started practicing yoga at home and now, after a few months of doing so, she says she may never go back to outside centers because she enjoys taking charge of her own workouts so much. 
 
“When I feel like not moving my body at all, I watch a light stretching session on YouTube, and when I feel energetic enough to do something intense, I will do a workout that is mixed with cardio and muscle exercises,” Lee said.  
 
Lee has categorized different workouts for different times. In three different folders, she's saved YouTube videos that focus on cardio for weight loss and muscle exercises, yoga for daily workouts and stretching for days when she feels tired but still wants to push herself to do some light exercise. If she feels stiffness in her neck or shoulders, she searches for a video that can relax the muscles in those areas. 
 
“Since I've been scheduling my own workouts fit for my needs, I’m more satisfied with my daily exercise,” she said. She even works out more often now — up to four days a week.  
 
Although restrictions related to gyms have been slightly relaxed, many are choosing not to return and are favoring at home workouts as their main choice of daily exercise. Individuals are putting focus on finding instructors that suit their tastes and needs leading many personal trainers to build their own programs to offer diverse options to such workout hunters online.  
 
Instructors are using social media like Instagram and YouTube to market their personal workout styles and attract exercise enthusiasts, ranging from yoga to solo running. 
 
Some are using K-pop songs as the backing tracks for their aerobic workouts while others take into consideration the limits people might face at home and design exercises that can be done with simple equipment that most would have access to. 
 
In line with the trend, many retailers have seen an increase in the sales of equipment related to working out at home. Shinsegae International’s lifestyle brand Jaju saw a surge of about 59 percent in the sales of workout gear for at-home training from November last year to January. Stretch bands, dumbbells and pull-up bars were especially popular, recording an increase of about 70 percent compared to the same time the year before. Post workout equipment like foam rollers used to massage sore muscles, as well as massage balls, also saw a hike in demand. 
 
“As working out has become an essential factor in living a healthy and happy life, it is expected that these items will continue to be popular,” said a marketing official with the brand. We will continue to unveil more items that anyone can use easily and conveniently at home.”
 
Lee Eon-jae, a 23-year-old from Seoul, purchased a foldable bench and dumbbells whose weight can be changed from 4 kilograms (8.82 lbs) to 31 kilograms to improve her at-home workouts.  
 
“As someone who used to exercise at a gym up to five times a week and considers working out as part of my daily routine, I wanted to find a way to maintain my lifestyle at home, because I'm worried about visiting a crowded gym, especially because I have a child at home," Lee said.  
Mina Home Training is a brand selling workout gear started by an online fitness influence. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Mina Home Training is a brand selling workout gear started by an online fitness influence. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Online retailer Ticket Monster offered a special promotion on health-related items including workout gear early this year, after it saw a whopping 183 percent increase in the sale of such items from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4.  

 
Many workout influencers are grasping the opportunities that this new trend has brought with it, with some releasing their own workout gear to sell online. Mina Home Training (@mina_homt) with 251,000 followers on Instagram has her own brand that offers workout equipment which she then demonstrates how to use in her online posts. In addition to the equipment, she's also released her own line of leggings. Lily Home Training (@lily_homt), with 115,000 followers, also sells a variety of clothing and exercise related items while offering free daily workout routine videos.  
 
Twin sisters, who go by the name "Yoonssaem", ssaem meaning teacher in Korean, work together to share exercise tips. @ch.yoooon with 425,000 followers on Instagram and @pila_nyong with 174,000 often post workout videos featuring a variety of trendy songs like “Dynamite” by BTS or “Savage Love” by Jason Derulo and Jawsh 685. They also share their daily happenings and what food they eat to keep their followers more engaged. 
 
An influence who goes by the nickname "Smi" under the handle @smitruti1010 with 401,000 followers is another popular workout guru who does live dance sessions. She also has video programs for those who are pregnant, which she filmed while pregnant herself. 
 
A screen shot of a live workout session by @smirtruti1010. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

A screen shot of a live workout session by @smirtruti1010. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Those whose businesses are suffering from the uptick in at-home workouts are trying to find some solutions. Park Seo-yeon of Yeonpilates, who runs her own studio in Nonhyeon-dong, southern Seoul’s Gangnam District, has teamed up with online platform Class 101 to offer online classes at discounted prices.  
 
“Many seem to be more determined to continue to workout when they sign up for the paid online sessions than the free ones,” said Park.
  
She made the decision to join hands with the platform in late December last year after much thought. 
 
“I could see people get anxious about not being able to work out when they wanted to due to the pandemic keeping them away from workout centers where people gather,” said Park. “People can simply go online and follow the recorded videos whenever they want to at home, that’s the biggest advantage of doing something online.”
 
But, there are some limits. 
 
“I wish there was a platform or application where every service related to taking care of your body and lifestyle is available, ranging from ordering food to signing up for a shoot to get your own body profile picture,” said Park. “A platform that enables much easier feedback from students as well as from teachers for better communication is something I personally wish to have in the future.”
 
BY LEE SUN-MIN   [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]
 
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