Use and Perceptions of Online and Virtual Exercise Training During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Casterline, Leonard
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Middle Tennessee State University
The coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic forced fitness centers to close due pandemic restrictions. Online and virtual exercise training provided a manner of addressing physical fitness needs in a guided format. Using an online survey, the studies in this dissertation provided an overview of what motivated people to participate in online and virtual training and the costs of participation and equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondly, the goals, barriers, and modes of participation in online and virtual training were examined. The first study showed greater participation in online and virtual training during March 2020 – February 2021 compared to March 2019 – February 2020 (p < .001). Participants were more motivated to use this training due to cost per session (p = .004), less travel (p = .008), more flexible schedules (p = .021), classes not available at local fitness centers (p = .001) and being more comfortable exercising from home (p < .001). Participants were willing to spend more on online and virtual fitness training during March 2020 – February 2021 compared to when there is a post-pandemic state (p = .011). In the year before the pandemic and the first year of the pandemic, participation was greatest in yoga, body weight, and high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) classes. The most selected goals were to improve overall heath, tone muscles, and lose weight, with lose weight (p = .001), tone muscles (p = .039), reduce fat mass (p = .013), improve overall health (p = .039), and improve muscular strength (p = .035) showing significantly lower goal achievement. Participants also desired less expensive online streaming classes compared to pre-recorded classes (p = .004). Exercise professionals should consider the factors that motivated clients the most to take classes, such as, cost of sessions, less travel, flexibility in schedules, and being able to exercise from a client’s home. Exercise professionals using online or virtual training should create classes using yoga, body weight or H.I.I.T. classes, while focusing on improving overall health, toning muscles, and weight loss as primary goals.
COVID-19, Online Exercise Training, Virtual Exercise Training, Health sciences