Video conferencing isn’t just changing the way the world does business – platforms like Zoom can also revolutionise group fitness sessions to keep sporting teams and workforces fit and motivated while sidelined by COVID restrictions.
Professor David Lubans, a physical activity researcher at the University of Newcastle and a member of HMRI’s Cardiovascular Program, is using the technology to ‘virtually’ train his 12-year-old son’s rugby team with a variety of High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts.
It’s equally effective at maintaining social contact with research colleagues at the university, Professor Lubans says, with the sessions typically involving resistance exercise and aerobic activity. “HIIT is designed to give you the maximum fitness benefits in the shortest amount of time,” he explains. “This particular session has a rugby focus, but we've got different styles designed for netball, basketball, soccer – there really are as many options as there are sports available.
“There's something about the accountability and the social connectivity of doing it with your friends, doing it with your family and workmates together at the same time. Sharing the pain but also sharing the laughs and the joy.”
Professor Lubans believes the live feedback afforded by Zoom makes it a more powerful medium than pre-recorded exercise videos, and he’s keen to develop the concept further.
“We’re making do with what we’ve got at the moment, but even when the pandemic finishes there’ll still be a need for these type of fitness sessions for those in rural and remote communities who don't have access to great quality sessions. So I definitely see some scope for research in this space,” he adds.
“The benefits of cardio-respiratory fitness are lifelong, It's going to make young people perform better in terms of schoolwork at home, it's going to make them feel better about themselves and hopefully, through this, we're going to help them to connect with each other and enhance their mental health.”
Rugby fitness workout for Zoom
High intensity interval training (HIIT workout): 40 seconds work: 20 seconds rest
To be completed in pairs with parent, sibling or friend.
Warm-up: 2 minutes of moderate intensity activity, including a combination of squats, running on the spot, walking lunges and skipping.
Complete 3 rounds of the 6 intervals below (total work time = 18 x 40 seconds)
Interval 1: 5 burpees following by continuous passing with partner until end of interval
Interval 2: 20 jumping jacks following by rugby pass burpees (i.e., pass ball to partner then complete burpee, return to feet and receive the ball) until end of interval
Interval 3: 10 jump squats followed by uneven plank until end of interval
Interval 4: 10 push-ups followed by one-legged ski hops until end of interval
Interval 5: 10 sit-ups followed by scrum crawl (i.e., bear crawl) until end of interval
Interval 6: Squat hold (i.e., squat position with thigh parallel to the ground) with rugby pass to partner until end of interval
Cool down: slow walking on the spot, followed by static stretching.