Fit in my 40s: can I learn to love livestreamed classes?

Zoe Williams

I’ve got to know a neighbour who, when this is all over, I intend to make a friend of, for partly this reason: that she texted me, with the urgency of an air raid siren, to say that her livestreamed yoga class was full of niche-famous people, and if you pinned Fiona Millar as the main speaker, you could see her kitchen. (Who knows, maybe if you pinned her often enough, Alastair Campbell would walk past, naked… Why am I going here? This is such an obvious imaginative excursion, you surely would have made it on your own.)

Anyway, I didn’t fancy livestreamed yoga (I only like it hot), but I did take a fresh interest in the livestreamed class. At the start of lockdown, all I wanted to do was be outside. Towards the middle, I came to the view that interim fixes could be quite fun, and didn’t have to represent complete surrender. Spoiler: I didn’t see any famous people.

Hitherto, I’ve even come to prefer videos, which are more often free and give you the freedom of choosing what time to do them. However, I mostly used that freedom to do nothing. I needed some discipline, and maybe to spend a little money, as that can be motivating, especially when it’s two quid rather than £10.

I chose two platforms, ClassPass and Frame, because there’s so much available that you need some way of narrowing it down. Frame is expensive if you buy single classes, but has a classic gym payment structure: if you kid yourself you’re going to do 10 classes a month, they’re a quid each. God, they’re fun; 45 minutes, high-tempo aerobics from a variety of classic disco eras, including rave and a class where you learn to dance like Lizzo. You need a space in your house that’s two square metres, and for the first time in my life, I can say roughly how big that is.

Related: Fit in my 40s: 10-year-old girls love it, but will skipping work for me? | Zoe Williams

ClassPass curates other studios, rather than making its own content, so has a huge range: pilates, loads of yoga, ballet floor and barre work, and body conditioning, which I always read as “weights for lazy people, without any weights”. The studios set the prices, so some are mad expensive (like, £15), some are good value and some are free. They have a whole stack of 20-minute classes, and this was a revelation.

I did a ballet fusion core with London-based Rhea Sheedy (after a time zone cock-up, where I signed up for a rap class in LA that would have meant getting up at 3am). It was intense: active planks that felt as though they lasted hours, absolutely brutal on your core. Under any other circumstances, I would have given up, but I had the sensation that she was watching me, even though I had my video turned off. I must have checked how many minutes I had left about 70 times, it was that hard. But I kept going till the end, and the next day could actually feel (though definitely not see) the difference in my side muscles.

By the time we were allowed out for exercise as often as we wanted, I preferred an online class. This is Quarantine Law.

What I learned

Classes with ‘core’ in the title will be more intense, for a shorter time, than those with the word ‘strength’