Fit thanks to Youtube - is that possible?

Fitness clips on the net can be a workout alternative in times of closed studios. Youtube, for example, is full of them - the videos there are often well made, but still not suitable for everyone

Even during the Corona lockdown last spring, Professor Theodor Stemper's granddaughter had a fixed fitness schedule. After homeschooling in the morning, she had to do "ripe" at 12 noon, as she explained to her grandpa.

Behind "Reif" is the 24-year-old Pamela Reif from Karlsruhe, who has published numerous fitness videos on YouTube. Around five million people follow her there and do their workouts. But is that also recommended?

"From a sports science perspective, Reif's videos are well made," says Stemper, who was a professor at the Institute for Sports Science at the University of Wuppertal until his retirement in the summer. "With very few exceptions, the movements are carried out cleanly." The underlying music speaks to the target group and motivates young people to do sports. Like Stemper's granddaughter.

Beneficiaries of the crisis

Reif is just one of many who upload fitness videos to Youtube. Other well-known examples are "Fitnessblender", Lilly Sabri or the German Gabi Fastner. Your videos have names like "Online Winter-Fit" or "Full Body Workout".

The fitness Youtubers have benefited from the fact that many in the Corona crisis have moved the sport to their own four walls in view of closed fitness studios or a lack of training opportunities in the club and watch their clips there.

However, the fact that the offers are freely available and free of charge is not a sign of poor quality: Users can generally feel that they are in good hands with the instructors on the web, although they rarely find out anything about their sport-specific training.

"With the democratization of the Internet, the bad are gone immediately and the good are pushed," says Professor Lars Donath from the German Sport University in Cologne. "It is impressive how good these offers are."

Lack of interactivity as a disadvantage

Nevertheless, there are points of criticism: The degree of difficulty of a training session is sometimes made clear in the title of the video. However, sports scientist Stemper, for example, misses indications from Pamela Reif on how to control stress.

Lars Donath adds that there is hardly any feedback from the trainers during the YouTube workouts. This interactivity is absent in contrast to sports in a club or studio, where instructors can correct posture and execution. In most of the videos, on the other hand, they "do gymnastics from A to Z," says Stemper.

Self-control in the mirror or with a smartphone

The deputy chairman of the Bundesverband Gesundheitsstudios Deutschland (BVGSD) therefore recommends checking yourself in the mirror and seeing whether you are doing the exercises as shown in the video. In addition, according to Stemper, you can film yourself using your smartphone and compare the two videos.

"What you shouldn't do, however, is to constantly look at the computer monitor while exercising on the floor to see how the instructor is moving," says Stemper. To do this, you would have to turn your head or upper body again and again in order to be able to see better. "Then it comes to bad posture and, as a result, possibly painful incorrect loads."

Not on Youtube after a long break in sports

Not every offer is suitable for every age group. Older people in particular, who might not have done any sport for ten or twenty years, should first go to a club or gym and ideally stay there, recommends Stemper. There they would get support.

From the age of around 30 you should always ask yourself "whether you have enough previous experience and still have enough training", says the expert. To be on the safe side, you can go to the doctor for a check-up beforehand.

In addition, Gabi Fastner, for example, was praised in a study by Stiftung Warentest on online fitness offers for the fact that "the instructions and implementation of the training sessions were convincing". However, the testers criticized the lack of risk information.

With young people up to the age of 20 or 25, however, there is no great danger of being overwhelmed by Fastner, Reif and Co., explains Stemper. If they are healthy, they often have good contact with sport, for example through school sport.

With yoga mat and enough space

The home training area in front of the screen should only be designed to be safe, says Stemper. For example, walking on a slippery carpet is not a good idea. It's better to put a yoga or rubber mat underneath. It shouldn't be too tight either: outstretched arms and legs need space.

Functional gymnastics is best for at home, says Donath. "You only train with your own body weight or with small devices." You don't need more.

Hardly any success without a plan and goal

During the restrictions in spring, the Cologne-based sports scientist set up his basement for sports and, in addition to his rowing ergometer, for example, drilled a sling trainer into the ceiling. "I didn't do much, but at least 20 minutes a day," says Donath.

After the lockdown, however, the "everyday autopilot" quickly started again with more regular office hours and meetings. It was then that it became clear to him that you had to make a plan and keep fixed times free in order to stick to it.

In addition, it is good to set goals, says Donath. "You have to have the absolute will to persevere. That is why you should be aware of why you are doing sport and make a plan." This applies particularly to online offers, which, unlike club or studio offers, naturally do not give you any specific times for training.

So Stemper's granddaughter was right: "Ripe" at 12 noon.