One of the brands that I came across at Be:Fit was the new-to-the-UK Yoogaia. I'd been seeing ads for it popping up around facebook and twitter, so I was excited to have the chance to speak to them face to face about what exactly they were. They started in Finland a couple of years ago and have since expanded to Asia, the UK and will soon launch in the US, so they're clearly a successful fitness start-up I wanted to know more about.
What I learned from speaking to the staff at their Be:Fit stand is that they are a pretty cool service! In it's simplest form it's online yoga classes that you can do whenever you want. But with a twist.
What makes them different from any other online yoga (of which I'm not aware of many!) is that you have the option to do either a live class as it happens or you can do the same classes at a later time, any time that suits you. AND during the live class you can have your webcam on so the teacher can watch you and help with adjusting your form or with words of encouragement.
As soon as my free trial started, I got right into a yoga class. I ended up doing a pre-recorded class the first time just to see what it was like and because I'd logged in at a time that was halfway between a couple of classes.
After the class, with a bit of exploration, I found the whole thing really easy to use. There's a weekly schedule, just like you'd find in any studio, so you can plan ahead if you want to do any live classes. The live and prerecorded classes are separated into two really clear menus and in your profile, they create little lists of classes they'd recommend for you based on what you've done in the past or what's new/exciting.
The most fun was later in the week when I joined a live stretch & lengthen session with one of the instructors. I logged in and joined the class. Anyone familiar with video conferencing, Skype, facetime or any other online video-enabled services will find this a snap. Soon a little message appeared that I had successfully joined the class and we were waiting for the instructor to join. Once we were all online, I could see her, she could see me, and everyone can see the list of names of people who are taking the class (don't worry, no one else can see you other than the instructor!!).
It felt pretty natural as the instructor welcomed me and a few others by name and she was quite interactive throughout the class -- not necessarily to anyone specific but just mentioning casually how you might change a stretch if you were struggling to get into a position or if you wanted a deeper version of that stretch. So, just like a real class!
Yoogaia in action during a bum & legs class:
Yoogaia offers a huge range of styles of yoga class and lots of instructors so you can explore and find what you like. They also have pilates, barre, tai chi, kettle bell, squats, core-focussed, stretching and many, many other classes--too many to list here but suffice it to say they are far more than just a yoga studio online.
So here's what I thought overall...
The best part? You will never get turned away from your favourite class. Since you practice at home (or wherever you want and have an internet connection) you'll never find a 'Class is Full' sign. Then as soon as you're done you can shower and be in your PJs (or ready for work) in no time.
All levels welcome! Whether this is your first class or your 500th, there's something for you. Total pro looking for something harder? Go for Broga. Completely new and worried about showing up to a class and looking silly? They've got beginner yoga, Curvy Girl yoga and just stretching if you want to ease yourself in. Never tried Tai Chi (like me!), kettlebells or pilates? Beginner classes online whenever you want.
At home doesn't equal repetitive. I've done plenty of yoga / pilates / etc at home over the years and with a DVD it can get a bit repetitive. There's no danger of that with Yoogaia. You can bookmark favourite classes but you can also try something different every single day if you want to. Brilliant.
At home doesnt equal alone. The super-cool interactive webcam feature means it's like having a private yogi in your living room.
Music. Well, actually there isn't any. While I found this weird at first and I think there could be place for the yogis or other instructors to have a soundtrack that they choose, it actually means you have free rein over the music you want to listen to in the background. So I guess this can be an upside if you're a muso or a downside if you don't want to have to think about it. But then they also say silence is golden... ;o)
The drawbacks? Almost none! If you love the smell of incense and the zen lighting of a real studio, you might need to go out and buy some Nag Champa and invest in a dimmer switch or some candles. Easy to fix.
Last but not least, the price. It's £15 a month. Yep, you read that right. I had to do a double-take when I first heard that, too! It's a whole month of yoga (or other classes) for less than the price of a single class in most big cities. And it's even cheaper if you buy several months at a time. This is a total no-brainer.
And, if you've read all that and still have any doubts, Yoogaia have also been kind enough to give any of my readers a free trial! If you want to try it free for 14 days, simply click here.
Have you tried online or other types of at-home yoga? What's your favourite DVD/service/private professional?
Disclaimer: Occasionally I am offered free product in exchange for a review, as was the case with Love Your Blender. The opinions expressed in these reviews are my unbiased opinion and are not affected by or paid for by the companies mentioned.