Smith often exercises at her Miami home because itís more
convenient and affordable than hitting the gym. Several times
a week, she also records her workout sessions and uploads them
to YouTube, so thousands of her closest friends can sweat
right along with her.
effort to spread fitness to the masses is gaining momentum.
Her free exercise videos and programs have attracted more than
8 million views. More than 90,000 people, meanwhile, have
subscribed to Jessicasmithtv.com and the rate is steadily
increasing each month, according to YouTube. Her mostly female
fans say they love her energy, enthusiasm and down-to-earth
has brought my career to a whole different level because Iím
able to connect with the audience in a personal way,"
said Smith, a certified wellness coach and fitness instructor.
"I train millions more people than I did when I was a
personal trainer, yet I only do one workout so Iím not
exhausted and able to give more of myself to the
of exercise DVDs continue to decline, fitness professionals
are increasingly putting their workouts online, either
establishing YouTube channels and posting free videos or
charging minimal fees for downloads or monthly subscriptions.
Online workouts can help overcome one of the biggest obstacles
to exercise: Getting to ó or being inside ó the gym. With
a variety of choices and programs, the workouts can be
accessed on demand in the comfort and privacy of home, with
minimal equipment and cost.
since anyone with an Internet connection can upload a video or
create a website, the market is also flooded with amateur or
unqualified trainers, posing as credible professionals,
industry experts say. With online fitness, thereís no one to
correct bad form or screen for risk factors or injuries. Home
workouts often lack the palpable energy of a live class.
Moreover, Smith and other fitness experts say itís difficult
to give away content and still pay the bills, yet free
programming is something consumers expect.
Internet has provided an opportunity for anyone with a good
body to post a selfie, and consumers are buying into the
hype," said master fitness trainer and educator Amy
Dixon, who has had several workouts stolen and posted on
YouTube. "It feels like the social media world is getting
run over with Ďposers,í especially for those of us who can
communicate how to do an exercise properly and design programs
that are safe and effective."
experts say online workouts can be appropriate tools,
especially if they help people get started. But they often
arenít tailored toward an individualís specific needs.
"Itís good to have a little more oversight and use them
as part of a larger package with overall health
screening," said Brent Alvar, a board member of the
National Strength and Conditioning Association, which
certifies personal trainers. "You have to be cautious.
You often donít know the credentials of the individuals on
with a little trial and error, consumers can find quality
content, especially if they are willing to pay. Strength and
conditioning specialist Leah Sarago, creator of the Ballet
Body Signature Series, has produced more than 130 downloads in
addition to DVDs. The workouts can be used individually or as
part of a systematic training program called periodization,
which was devised by Sarago and requires a three- or six-month
interacts directly with the clients who have invested in the
periodization program as much as she can; if they have
questions about form, she may ask them to send her a video of
themselves performing the exercise.
didnít just want to throw out a bunch of workouts. I wanted
to give people some structure," said Sarago, whose method
is centered in dance, ballet, Pilates and yoga and uses body
weight, isometrics and what she calls "resistive
elongation techniques." "It is like being a trainer
from afar, but more accessible for an entire group of
people," she said.
her downloads cost $3.99 and she has no plans to give them
away. "I value my product," she said.
straddles the line. She charges for most of her content, but
will also offer free single exercises, tips or programs, in
part to help market her other work. "If you truly put
together a full production for a complete program, it should
be worth something," she said. "However, if I do a
quick guerrilla workout shot on my iPhone, Iím fine with
posting it for free."
YouTube, fitness-related videos are among the fastest growing
areas within sports, according to a company spokesman. Smith
first posted short clips on YouTube in 2009 but hopes to one
day reach a million subscribers, especially now that she is
collaborating with YouTube to build her brand.
Sarago, Smith connects with viewers by using minimally edited
videos and bringing them into her home. During some episodes,
Smith carefully steps around her French bulldog puppy, Peanut,
when he naps on her yoga mat. Women report that Peanut
distracts their children, allowing them to get a workout in.
you watch DVDs, you see polished, amazing bodies," said
Smith. "Real life isnít like that. Iím at home just
like they are. My dog is in the way, Iím sweating and they
can hear me breathing heavily. I think people like the reality
Garcia, 28, started doing Smithís workouts after discovering
her on sparkpeople.com. A former dancer who gained weight
after having children, Garcia found gyms to be expensive and
confusing because she never knew if she was using the
equipment properly. Now she considers Smith to be the personal
trainer she always wanted.
Garcia feels like blowing off a workout, she finds the weekly
schedule or playlist, turns on her computer and just does it.
"Afterwards, I always feel it was so worth it. Even the
hardest or my least favorite workouts, Jessica always has me
smiling at the end."
make their home workouts a social event. Every Monday and
Thursday night, friends and neighbors come over to Jan Shufeltís
house in Hyde Park, N.Y., to do a Leslie Sansone Walk at Home
workout. "I did join a gym at one point but this way, I
can roll out of bed, put on my sneakers and start," said
Shuflet, 70. "Iím often still in my nightdress, but Iím
ó who remembers when her classes were taped on VHS in the
1980s and shared ó thinks one live class, followed by three
workouts at home is "the ideal combination for staying
motivated, keeping on track and getting results."
so exciting about social media is that people take the time to
sit there and send love," said Sansone, who was recently
inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame. "But
when youíre in those live classes, moving and singing and
screaming together, you canít beat it. You canít choose.
Social media is just a fact of life."