A recently launched streaming video service has created a way for fitness novices to get into shape without having to brave a trip to the gym.
Called Daily Burn 365, the streaming service includes live and on-demand instructional workout videos that can be watched on the web or on a variety of devices like the iPhone, Apple TV, and Roku.
"I had tried so many things that were just quick fixes," said Teresa Hui, who regularly participates in the workouts as an on-screen extra at the company's studios in the Long Island City neighborhood of New York City. "You end up losing a lot of weight really quickly but then gain everything back—plus more. I just wanted something that was just going to be fun and different.
Hui's feelings are almost certainly experienced by millions of other Americans. According to the latest data from the National Institutes of Health, more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese in the US; the NIH partially attributes these numbers to poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.
"If you're muscle head or a gym rat and that's your thing, then that's great and there are programs out there for you," said J.D. Roberto, the host of Daily Burn 365. "But honestly, the average person that just needs to move more in their life—that's who we want to talk to."
By design, the exercises features on Daily Burn 365 are tailored for novices, with no equipment necessary beyond the occasional yoga mat. "What we decided as a team was that the workouts would be 30 minutes, no equipment, and that they all had a bit of cardio, strength, mobility, and stability," Daily Burn VP of Fitness Programming Lisa Wheeler told me, explaining that her exercises were designed so they could be done in small spaces like apartments and bedrooms.
The goal of these beginner-friendly exercises isn't to rapidly lose weight or quickly put on muscle. Rather, it's to get people into the habit of exercising consistently and staying accountable to fellow Daily Burn users.
"It's like your date with your best girlfriend," said Wheeler. "You're not going to bail on your best girlfriend to go out shopping so you're not going to bail out on your community to show up for your workout."
This we're-all-in-it-together ethos carries over to Daily Burn's various social media outlets, most notably its official Facebook page where users constantly offer each other uplifting words of encouragement. "Daily Burn where have you been all my life?" one user recently asked. "I think it's fair to say I'm pretty much OBSESSED!" exclaimed another. And said one Ohio mother: "I feel great, and as a result, I was able to keep up with my kids sledding yesterday!"
Of course, Daily Burn isn't the only online community offering support for people interested in fitness. Robb Topolski, a moderator of the Reddit weight loss community /r/loseit, told me that most folks there know what it's like "to be starting, to be hanging onto hope and fleeting motivation, [and] to fear what will happen when times get tough."
"Encouraging one another to fight the fight, face down the obstacles and keep going is one of the biggest roles we play in someone's weight-loss effort," he added.
Reddit's r/fitness subreddit is another popular community for people looking to get into shape, though its members specialize in taking more of a "tough love" approach in how they encourage each other and serving as a counterbalance to the endless amount of inaccurate fitness information floating around online.
"[We are a place] for people to find good, free, well-sourced and supported information about what actually works, and a place where the community will keep you honest and call bullshit on excuses," said r/fitness moderator Sven (who asked that I withhold his surname). "We're very much of the opinion that sugar-coating realities, or spoon-feeding people information does them no favors," he added.
And while J.D. Roberto and the rest of the Daily Burn 365 team aren't in the business of "calling bullshit" on people's excuses, the sense of togetherness is undeniably the reason why people stick around.
"It's really about reminding them that they're part of a community of people just like them," said Roberto. "I think we all feel like everybody else has it together but me. Secretly everyone feels like, 'I'm a fraud.' No, man. We all fail, we all fall, we are all just plugging away. We wake up every morning hoping to be this much better than we were yesterday, and you are in good company. And it's OK."