We’ve all been on Zoom for a good long time now and there’s so much we’re tired of. Fussing with the audio, blinding ourselves by staring into a ring light, figuring out the right backdrop in our homes that weren’t designed with video in mind, managing family needs and pets, worrying about the internet connection…plus we’ve all probably increased our screen time by about 1000%.

So yeah, there’s a lot that’s not great about it.

But as a fitness teacher and as a student there is so much I appreciate about it, beyond the fact that Zoom let me do my job and also get my own workouts while everything was shut down.

I started listing all the things I like but it really boils down to autonomy.

As a teacher, I like seeing my students interacting with their family and their pets, maybe stopping to take a drink of their coffee or wandering off for a moment to take care of something in the other room. I like the fact that they can come in late or leave early based on their needs, without worrying about disrupting the class. They can even check their cell phones without it being an irritation to everyone else! I like seeing them get confused about an exercise and come up with something else in its place. (Although I don’t leave people hanging; if I see you’re struggling, I’ll give you direct cues to help!)

And I think that atmosphere of being in your own home, in a place where you’re thoroughly comfortable and literally “at home,” gives a feeling of permission to take care of your own needs and be in charge of your own body that you might not get at a studio where you feel like the teacher is in charge.

Is there an exercise that doesn’t feel right? Change it or do something different.

Space doesn’t work for what we’re doing? Get creative to make it work.

Does your child want to join in? Well, maybe it doesn’t matter if your form for those last few bridges isn’t perfect because you’re modeling a choice to prioritize fitness while also getting some quality time with your kid.

Did you need to stop to snuggle your cat? Petting your pets is an excellent choice for your health and wellbeing and fits in just fine with your workout.

Not sure if you’re doing it right? You can always ask or take a moment to watch everyone else’s video but as long as you’re not hurting yourself, you’re getting value out of just moving your body without having to feel like you’re on display to the rest of the class while you’re doing it wrong. (After watching a zillion Zoom classes I can guarantee you that no one is looking at you on video other than the teacher.)

Need a break? Take one! Go chat with your partner about dinner plans for the evening.

Feeling like you just want to be left to your own devices? Turn your video off and enjoy the workout in your own way. Maybe add music!

On vacation? As long as you have a device and a wi-fi connection you’re welcome to join in if you feel like it.

Need a bathroom break? No one is timing you or listening to any sounds you’re making in the bathroom.

Want to tell the teacher something privately or ask a question without looking silly? Use the chat button and just make sure you’re directing the message specifically to the teacher. (Zoom defaults to sending the message to “Everyone” so this is a pro tip!)

Have a name or pronouns you want to be sure are used and respected? Add them to your Zoom label.

As a student I’ve done things like:

  • Decided it was more important to take a walk and enjoy the sunset than be at class for the warm-up and then joined in later when I got home
  • Decided my body has had enough push-ups and wandered into the other room to chat with my partner until they’re over
  • Turned my video on and off and on and off again, based on whether I felt like getting feedback
  • Taken non-fitness classes with the video off while rolling around on the floor with my foam roller and massage balls to stretch and roll out
  • Skipped out early because I felt like I got what I needed from class
  • Helped my partner put the groceries away and then come back to finish class

There is definitely much to be said about attending classes in person. There’s a bigger feeling of commitment because you have to leave your house and go somewhere. There’s the group energy and camaraderie you get by working out with other people where their efforts can help lift and carry you through class. You can make friends with people you might not otherwise have met. There’s the Cheers effect of having a community spot where everybody knows your name. And there’s the added focus and escape of being somewhere that’s not your house and where your kids and your pets and your partner can’t bug you.


For me, a confirmed Luddite who doesn’t like technology, Zoom fitness has added to my life in ways I didn’t expect and I’m grateful for it. For me? It’s here to stay.

copyright 2021 Autumn Needles Pilates and Fitness LLC