Online fitness training or in-person workouts: Which is better?

Dennis Guerrero, co-owner and head trainer of fitness platform Life Outside the Box, leads a virtual class from his living room in Long Beach, New York, on November 8, 2020.

(CNN)When the coronavirus pandemic temporarily closed gyms nationwide in 2020, many people opted to do their workouts at home through online instruction. Even after fitness facilities reopened, a good number of individuals elected to stay at home. That's probably why online training nabbed the top spot in the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021, a poll conducted annually by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Online training involves the use of digital streaming technology to deliver exercise programs aimed at groups or individuals, and encompasses both livestreamed and prerecorded workouts. Today, with the Omicron variant racing across the globe and many gym-goers pondering a return to online instruction, this trend appears to be here to stay. Or at least some version of it.
"I foresee a hybrid model being the trend of the future," said Jennifer Rewkowski, vice president of community health and wellness at the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, which offers both in-person and online workouts. "The world has changed so much over the last 19 months regarding people's work schedules and locations, schooling, etc. For some people, the on-demand world really works," she said via email.
    But is one workout format better than the other? Experts say it depends. Here are several factors to consider when deciding whether to head to the gym or your living room for your next workout.
      Important note: Before beginning any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you experience pain. Also, be sure to check Covid-19 guidance in your area.

      Online workouts are more accessible and less expensive

      One of the most popular reasons for working out to an online video is that it offers the ultimate convenience. No need to roll out of bed at 5 a.m. to make that 6 a.m. boot camp class, which may end up being full when you arrive. Instead, you can turn it on at home at your convenience. And if you're on the road? No problem. You can access your workout via your phone, tablet or laptop.
        Another advantage is the price. Gym memberships can be expensive, while online workouts are less so -- and sometimes even free. Chicago's Irving Park YMCA, for example, charges $52 per month for an adult membership (age 27+), plus a $52 joiner fee. The online Les Mills+ program, in contrast, offers a free 30-day trial of its 1,500-plus workouts. If you like them, it's just $9.99 per month when you sign up